Tuesday, November 06, 2007

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

I have said it before, and I have campaigned for it and will do so again. Good on Jack. And he is teaming up with a Red Tory; Hughie Segal to do it.
Layton calling for referendum on abolishing Senate

NDP Leader Jack Layton is calling for a referendum on the abolition of the Senate, an institution he describes as "outdated and obsolete."

"It's a 19th-century institution that has no place in a modern democracy in the 21st century," Layton told party organizers Sunday in Winnipeg.

"It's undemocratic because (senators) are appointed by prime ministers who then are turfed out of office. But these senators end up leaving a long shadow of their continued presence in the legislative context."

Layton has long called for the upper chamber to be done away with. The idea for a nationwide vote on the issue was floated two weeks ago by Conservative Senator Hugh Segal, who favours maintaining the upper house. He said a referendum could lead to important reforms if a majority of Canadians voted to keep the upper chamber.

Layton, albeit with different motives, is trying to put Segal's idea on the floor of the Commons. He said the NDP will introduce a motion calling for a referendum in the coming weeks, and is hoping Prime Minister Stephen Harper will allow Tory members to vote freely on the issue.

The referendum would not be costly, Layton said, because it could be held in conjunction with the next federal election.

"Why don't we start out by finding out how Canadians feel about it," Layton said.

Four provincial governments, including British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have supported the idea of abolishing the Senate and the prime minister has warned that the upper chamber might be abolished if it can't be reformed.

Abolish the Senate, the anachronistic vestigial remains of British Parliamentary representative government, which was not democratic. It is a throw back to the days before universal suffrage when one had to own property to be elected to government.

In order to have authentic parliamentary and democratic reform in Canada the Senate needs to be abolished and replaced with proportional representation in the House with an increase in MP's.

And while we are at it lets implement some of those radical left wing populist notions from the turn of last century; Recall and Referendum's. Yes I said left wing because they were instituted in Alberta under the joint United Farmers/Labour government in 1921.

After all there is no democracy like direct democracy.

But there are those who are whining about this being unconstitutional. Must be Liberals. Not liberals.

The true sociological doctrines of modern times can be summed up in a few words: Recognizing that, in the political and temporal order, the only legitimate authority is the one to which the majority of the nation has given its consent; that are wise and beneficial constitutions only those for which the governed have been consulted, and to which the majorities have given their free approbation; that all which is a human institution is destined to successive change; that the continuous perfectibility of man in society gives him the right and imposes him the duty to demand the improvements which are appropriate for new circumstances, for the new needs of the community in which he lives and evolves.

1867 Speech of Louis-Joseph Papineau at the Institut canadien

For a different, but no less thoughtful,perspective see Jack Layton and the Drunken Chamber


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Woman at Mile 0 said...

An incredibly stupid idea. That's all I can say about it. Jack's an idiot for falling for this one.

Cliff said...

What an incredibly good idea. We can see south of the border right now how even an elected senate can thwart the democratic will of the people.

Even an elected Senate is a recipe for obstruction and gridlock. There are ways to promote and protect the good of federalism without a body who's supposed role is to see the national forest through the regional trees.

Put a pillow over its face. The Senate is an old fashioned bulwark for old fashioned inherited power.

eugene plawiuk said...

It is not a stupid idea. It has been NDP and CCF policy for many years. Just like it was NDP policy to get our of NATO which is all the more relevant now eh wot.

Once again it only works if the Senate is replaced by either proportional representation and an expanded House of the Common Folk or else through Constituent Assemblies as Papineau suggested.

Cliff said...

She's OK with posting her views on other blogs - not so much with other people posting their views on her blog.

Cliff said...

Turns out Wordpress blogs hold all first time posters for moderation - which makes my snit ill-advised.

eugene plawiuk said...

Wordpress has been having problems lately however Woman At Mile Zero has her own issues. Take what she posted above and then her comment on her own blog that she supports proportional representation, an issue that has not been discussed since 2004-2005. And which I believe must be the alternative to abolishing the senate.