View Poll Results: Senate reform - which options do you like? (multiple votes ok)

Voters
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  • Status quo - unelected senate

    12 25.53%
  • Elected senate

    22 46.81%
  • Abolish the senate

    11 23.40%
  • Don't know

    5 10.64%
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Thread: Senate reform - which options do you like?

  1. #1

    Default Senate reform - which options do you like?

    Note - you can vote for more than one. Feel welcome to pick a first and second choice.

    After the prorogue of Parliment, the Conservatives may have enough power thanks to Senate appointments, to focus on one of their policies, to reform the Senate such that Senators are elected.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/...rticle1420300/

    Stephen Harper will revive a contentious plan to reform the Senate after Parliament resumes in March, setting the stage for a showdown with the opposition and a handful of provinces over whether senators should be elected and held to term limits.
    Of the options above, which do you prefer? The NDP has stated in the past they are open to abolishing the Senate (some countries have done this). The Liberal party has traditionally favoured an unelected Senate (it will be interesting to see if this view changes once the majority of senators are no longer Liberal appointed). The Conservatives want an elected Senate, and have been stacking the Senate with a view to doing this.

    Vote and comment.
    Last edited by moahunter; 06-01-2010 at 10:40 AM.

  2. #2
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    I, for once, agree with the NDP. The Senate should be abolished, in my opinion.

    In a system without a separate elected executive (like France, US, Germany) you cannot have two elected chambers of a bicameral legislature. In Canada and the UK, we have a fused executive and legislative branch. If we elect the Senate, and one party runs each, then who is running the government? It would be a disaster. If you want to elect the Senate, then you have to elect and empower the Governor General.

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    A disaster? Not really a series of checks and balances where no one person or group has absolute power, the Senate could serve its purpose better as a place of sober second thought if elected.

    The House of Commons passes a motion on a rash move because of an event then Senate has time to review it, check if it passes constitutionality requirements, will it breech the charter of rights and freedoms.

    Plus it gives voters a chance more frequently to change the politicians, the American system of staggered votes seems to work well.

    Personally I think that all provinces should have about 5 senators, 2 for each territory, while this gives PEI the same rights as Ontario it does force politicians to consider whether spending a disproportionate amount of money in Ontario and Quebec is the right thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sundance View Post
    A disaster? Not really a series of checks and balances where no one person or group has absolute power, the Senate could serve its purpose better as a place of sober second thought if elected.

    The House of Commons passes a motion on a rash move because of an event then Senate has time to review it, check if it passes constitutionality requirements, will it breech the charter of rights and freedoms.

    Plus it gives voters a chance more frequently to change the politicians, the American system of staggered votes seems to work well.

    Personally I think that all provinces should have about 5 senators, 2 for each territory, while this gives PEI the same rights as Ontario it does force politicians to consider whether spending a disproportionate amount of money in Ontario and Quebec is the right thing.
    An elected Senate would serve to assure that nothing ever gets passed through the Canadian Parliament. Sober second thought? Think that's what it is now? It's a rubber stamp and has been for most of it's history. But all of a sudden we now need a sober second thought? Okay, but to ensure that our system doesn't grind to a halt you have to separate the legislative and executive branches of government.

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    I am for an elected senate with staggered elections...the composition of the senate is something that needs to be discussed so it is a place of sober second thought vs a roadblock.

    However, this should be co-ordinated with changes to the entire parliamentary system...the senate is the easiest to change...but the fused exec/leg component is more of a problem IMO.
    Since calm logic doesn't work, I guess it is time to employ sarcasm. ...and before you call me an a-hole...remember, I am a Dick.

  6. #6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonR View Post
    An elected Senate would serve to assure that nothing ever gets passed through the Canadian Parliament. Sober second thought?
    Which isn't much different from what we have had from an unelected senate the last few years. The only difference, is that at least people will have chosen the individuals who have decided to hold things up, and hopefully, they will be doing it based on consideration of their province rather than the party who appointed them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by JasonR View Post
    An elected Senate would serve to assure that nothing ever gets passed through the Canadian Parliament. Sober second thought?
    Which isn't much different from what we have had from an unelected senate the last few years. The only difference, is that at least people will have chosen the individuals who have decided to hold things up, and hopefully, they will be doing it based on consideration of their province.
    The Liberal attempts to hold things up in the Senate over the past few years are unusual in Canadian politics. And since Stephen Harper is likely to be PM for some duration, the Liberal majority in that chamber is not assured in the long-term.

    I think that the Senate can be elected. But not without structural changes to the House of Commons and the office of the Governor General. You would take a less-than-ideal situation and make it far, far worse.

    Furthermore, I strongly object to the idea of a triple-e senate. There is no way that a province like PEI, which has the population of Strathcona County should have the same number of Senators as Quebec, Ontario, BC or Alberta. No way!

  8. #8

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    ^I think geography is important, perhaps almost as much as population, otherwise all decisions and control would be made in respect of only Quebec and Ontario. We already have a population vote for the commons, so it would make sense to me that a more geographical check be the balance for the upper house.

    As to PEI, it is a historical anachronisim, but to take rights away now, I don't think would be appropriate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    ^I think geography is important, perhaps almost as much as population, otherwise all decisions and control would be made in respect of only Quebec and Ontario. We already have a population vote for the commons, so it would make sense to me that a more geographical check be the balance for the upper house.

    As to PEI, it is a historical anachronisim, but to take rights away now, I don't think would be appropriate.
    My friend, I truly believe that it is the job of the constitution to protect the rights of the minority. It is a mistake and a myth to think that a geographically divided Senate can offer protection to a geographic minority. Besides, if you want to do it by geography, then it would be much more appropriate to put regions together. The west, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic.

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    Jason while giving PEI and other provinces the same number of seats seems anochristic or unfair it does serve a purpose in unifying the country. If Ontario and Quebec had to care about PEI or the other provinces then some decisions wouldn't be made, like massive "loans" to Bombardier, or perhaps adscam.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sundance View Post
    Jason while giving PEI and other provinces the same number of seats seems anochristic or unfair it does serve a purpose in unifying the country. If Ontario and Quebec had to care about PEI or the other provinces then some decisions wouldn't be made, like massive "loans" to Bombardier, or perhaps adscam.
    Sorry, my friend, but I just don't believe it would work out that way. Besides, I'm that one westerner who thinks that subsidizing bombardier is a good thing.

  12. #12

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    Abolish the senate, or at least elect it.

    I side with Moa on the senator distribution however. Canada will be forever divided as a country as long as the Ontario and Quebec populations rule the rest of us. Canada NEEDS a better system of representation that ensures all voices are heard, and are meaningful. Ontario is being propped up by Alberta oil dollars via transfer payments, and the Quebec government exists solely to tear away from Canada. We can't let that happen, and any reform must make a stronger Canada, not a more disproportionate one.
    "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction" - Blaise Pascal

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    That system has unified United States for the most part, yes you now and then hear of Montana, Texas separatists, but the only part of USA that might separate would be Puerto Rico which has on more then one occasion chosen not to become a state. Even Alaska and Hawaii feel like they are reasonably represented.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sundance View Post
    That system has unified United States for the most part, yes you now and then hear of Montana, Texas separatists, but the only part of USA that might separate would be Puerto Rico which has on more then one occasion chosen not to become a state. Even Alaska and Hawaii feel like they are reasonably represented.
    And the USA has a separate executive and legislative branch, which is what allows them to have an elected senate, equal or otherwise.

    Although...I'm not sure that each state having 2 Senators is what unifies the USA.

  15. #15

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    I'm no expert on the senate, but doing a little reading I like what our senate is supposed to represent now. Lately with the blocking of bills, it's not doing what it should be, but also looking at the US, I don't want our senate to look anything like that either. At the end of the day, our current senate doesn't work so hot, and an elected senate would just be more of what we all hate south of the border.

    Maybe we should keep the senate we have, but impose far stricter term limits to ensure that the folks making decisions aren't senile and out of touch with the modern world, and reconfigure the senator distribution.

    Try a few tweaks before we resort to a major overhaul that could break the whole system.
    "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction" - Blaise Pascal

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chmilz View Post
    I'm no expert on the senate, but doing a little reading I like what our senate is supposed to represent now. Lately with the blocking of bills, it's not doing what it should be, but also looking at the US, I don't want our senate to look anything like that either. At the end of the day, our current senate doesn't work so hot, and an elected senate would just be more of what we all hate south of the border.

    Maybe we should keep the senate we have, but impose far stricter term limits to ensure that the folks making decisions aren't senile and out of touch with the modern world, and reconfigure the senator distribution.

    Try a few tweaks before we resort to a major overhaul that could break the whole system.
    This post makes a great deal of sense to me.

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    Like replacing the monarchy with a "home grown" head of state, the merits of an elected senate seem obvious to me at first thought, but thinking deeper leaves me wondering if it would actually be an improvement. Mandatory retirement at age 75 has largely eliminated the senile senators who collected a paycheck and occupied a seat despite being incapable of making any meaningful contribution, and docking the pay of senators who don't show up for work has reduced the incidence of deadbeat senators on permanent vacation, although I think there are still a couple exploiting loopholes there. I have found myself agreeing with most of the policy reports produced by the senate, some of which (such as the recommendation to legalise marijuana) ran counter to the policies of all of the major parties. I would also suggest that the legislative amendments that are currently infuriating the Conservatives are simply a result of senators doing their job of providing "sober second thought" to flawed legislation and that the country is better for it.

    There are some significant potential pitfalls with an elected senate. There is the representation question - represenatation by population would just lead to a copy of the house of commons, but the "triple E" equal representation for each province concept is also problematic given the disparities in size and population. The US senate gives the same representation to small and northern states like Rhode Island, Hawaii and Alaska as it does to California, Texas and New York, but there are 50 states in the US so no small state or group of small states has a huge amount of power. Furthermore, even California only has 10% of the total US population. We have a much smaller federation, with Ontario accounting for 1/3 of the population and all of the tiny provinces clustered together on the East coast.

    Assigning fixed but different numbers of seats to different provinces won't work either, as it violates the fundamental equality of provinces on which the federation is based. There is also the issue of the territories - do you treat them the same as a province and have 1/4 of our senators representing less than 100,000 people or arbitrarily give them less representation just because of their political classification?

    There is also the politics question - how will we prevent elected senators from being bullied into supporting flawed legislation or blocking good legislation because their party leaders want them to for political reasons. If this happens, there is no point in having an upper house at all - whipped votes are the antithesis of sober second thought. The unelected nature of the current senate makes it much less susceptible to such pressure.

    I have thought of a couple of possible solutions. For representation, we could divide the provinces and territories into population classes to avoid clustering too much power in the East and the North. The classes could change with changing demographics so provinces and territories would not be permanently stuck with a fixed number of senators. For example, provinces or territories with over 20% of the population (currently ON and QC) could get 12 seats, those with 5% to 20% (currently BC and AB) could get 10 seats, those with 1% to 5% (currently SK, MB, NB, NS and NL) could get 8 seats, those with 0.2% to 1% (currently PEI) could get 6 seats, and those with less than 0.2% (currently YT, NWT and NU) could get 4 seats each.

    The political question is trickier, but if the provinces ran the senate elections the senators could be somewhat distanced from federal party leaders. Holding senate elections during provincial elections would also achieve staggered replacement of senators and continuity across federal elections. I would also not support an elected senate unless members were chosen by proportional representation as PR would prevent a majority in the senate and further insulate senators from control by federal party leaders.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
    I am for an elected senate with staggered elections...the composition of the senate is something that needs to be discussed so it is a place of sober second thought vs a roadblock.

    However, this should be co-ordinated with changes to the entire parliamentary system...the senate is the easiest to change...but the fused exec/leg component is more of a problem IMO.
    What Richard said. Right now our system of government is to a large extent broken. We essentially have elected dictatorships where the PM has absolute power, provided he was able to form a majority. There's a reason the US has two elected legislative houses, an independent executive, and a judiciary selected by the executive but vetted by the legislative. There's checks and balances.

    In Canada the PM does whatever he wants once he's managed to get elected, with no checks on his power. And that's precisely the problem. Even those who campaign on "accountability" or "democratic reform", such as Harper, have no incentive to actually make any progress on those issues because it will only weaken the grasp on power they worked so hard to achieve in the first place. Harper went from a reformer to arguably the most centralized, secretive PMO in the country's history.

  19. #19

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    ^ The reason these reforms are close to the heart of the Conservatives, is that for years, they were in opposition and watched the unbridaled power you fear, from "Canada's" natural governing party (i.e. the old Liberal Party). They are proposing to have an elected senate. If the Conservatives wanted unbridaled power, they would do what the Liberals did in the past, just leave the senate as it is, and carry on stacking it with Conservative Senators with no goal of reforming the senate (which they are entitled to do, just like the last Liberal government stacked the Senate with Liberal Senators, and governments before that also stacked the senate).

    What is proposed may not be perfect, but it is the first step in a long time, in the right direction towards some regional balance (senators representing the province that elected them) instead of partisan political balance (senators representing the PM/party who appointed them).
    Last edited by moahunter; 06-01-2010 at 02:52 PM.

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    ....wow, an elected upper chamber - yet another opportunity for Canadians to not bother voting.

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    Andy would you rather have a government appointed for you, or inherited from their parents?

    Okay people vote for a party hopefully because they agree with most of what the party stands for, its a way of categorizing ideologies. So to some degree the party leader or whip makes sense because the majority of voters in a riding did vote for that particular ideology.

    But as for the Senate we need some checks and balances, an appointed system isn't the right way, and if you have the Senate be represented by population you are duplicating Commons. Hence my desire to have a equal number of elected Senators from each province, with fixed staggered election dates.

    As for Commons I would have fixed election dates, as well governments wouldn't fall in a minority, rather bills just wouldn't get passed to the leading party would have to work with the other parties to get bills passed.

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by sundance View Post
    As for Commons I would have fixed election dates, as well governments wouldn't fall in a minority, rather bills just wouldn't get passed to the leading party would have to work with the other parties to get bills passed.
    I think that could only work with a separate executive, like the US, there has to be somebody to make the day to day governance decisions, with government flipping, that would be unmanageable (which is why elections are forced under the present system).

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    The states occasionally has a problem when appropriations bills don't get passed. These bills are used to pay for federal workers and other bills. If these bills get stalled then non-essential US government workers are sent home, essential workers have to still work but not get paid. This can cause a bit of mess as a lot of federal offices are closed, and the necessary people like border guards tend to be a bit angry as they are donating their time.

    But if our system had the politicians salaries payment schedule tied in with the civil services salary I think the politicians would work very quickly to pass necessary operating budget bills.

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    If we have an elected Senate, we should have the House of Commons elected on the basis of population. Contrary to some, it won't result in Ontario or quebec getting any more seats, Alberta and BC will gain a few seats and everyone else would lose seats. Since the Senate is for regional representation, the lower house could become more representative of population patterns.
    On the other hand, if we want to keep the lower house the way it is and avoid endless wrangling amongst the provinces, we should abolish the Senate (my preferred option). It would make our system more democratic, less expensive and more efficient.

  25. #25

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    Interesting stuff, many of the appointed conservative senators now don't want to give up their perks (why would they?):

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/...rticle2067484/

    Jason Kenney is suggesting his boss Stephen Harper could do away with the Senate if his Conservative caucus in the Red Chamber doesn’t play ball and accept his reforms.
    So, per that article, Harper is finally coming to the realization that the only answer that makes sense may be to abolish the senate. With the NDP in support (it is their preference), I really hope this happens now. If you think about it, this could be a win-win for the NDP and Consrvatives, an example of working together to get rid of something Canadians want changed but that the Liberals didn't care about.

  26. #26

    Default Electing the Senate: worst idea in the history of the planet

    This looks like an interesting idea, I don't know if senators would agree, but it looks the answer:

    What makes most sense in terms of both democratic theory and Canada's needs is to get rid of the damn place entirely before it scuppers more useful legislation. But abolition requires a constitutional amendment, which is also as likely as getting Tony Clement to show integrity. Still, the way forward is remarkably simple: Impose stringent term limits on sitting senators – I’m thinking Labour Day at the latest – and then just stop appointing new members. Before you could curse Mike Duffy, there’d be no more senators in the Senate.

    This of course will not happen, since the Prime Minister seems determined to leave behind an elected Red Chamber. Why he’s obsessed with this notion is, like so many of the other dogmas in his catechism – prisons good, Israel good, corporate taxes bad, long-gun registry and long-form census awful, coalitions evil – quite obscure. He asserts his articles of faith but never troubles to explain the reasons behind them. Arguably, there are none; dogmas disdain reason.
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/...rticle2055951/

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    Cal67 if you have the elected Senate based on population than you have just duplicated the House of Commons and while there are costs there are benefits. If it is just population based then you may as well eliminate it. A system where every province has x number of Senators forces the Senators to work together rather than what is becoming very provincial. I don't mind the Bloc Quebecois looking out for Quebec interests, that is their role, but I wish our MPs and Senators would do the same.

  28. #28

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    ^the problem Sundance is that provinces don't get an even number, and those that are over represented for historical reasons are not going to agree to a reduction. This is another reason why simply just electing the senate doesn't make sense, there is no rhyme or reason to the representation proportion.

    I agree that a system of an equal set number of senators per province could work (like the US), but on the other hand, we already have Provinces to deal with regional power issues so why duplicate that with a senate as well?
    Last edited by moahunter; 21-06-2011 at 10:00 AM.

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    I'm not sure if I'm comfortable eliminating the Senate entirely, because in some ways they really are the only check on the Prime Minister's power to pass legislation. Our executive directly controls the legislative branch, and appoints the judiciary with little or no oversight.

    While I don't think that we're at any great risk of descending in to a dictatorship any time soon, a developing country that concentrated that much power in a single person's hands would be tut-tutted at by developed countries for eroding their democracy.

    Although I'm not so sure I'd want to mirror the US system with two legislative houses that are quite independent from the executive, because it seems to lead to continual politicking, partisanship, and an inability to accomplish much of anything useful.
    Last edited by Marcel Petrin; 21-06-2011 at 10:05 AM.

  30. #30

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    ^I disagree, we don't really have any check in the Senate right now, it does squat except hold up legislation for petty political reasons. The Courts judges could be appointed with legal committees, not so different from senators who are unelected PM appointments. So we aren't losing anything. There are still the provinces and courts for balance, and a better system of select committee expert review for sober second thought on bills can be put in place. New Zealand eliminated the senate long ago (very similar "constitution" to Canada, just no provinces) and Denmark also operates without one.
    Last edited by moahunter; 21-06-2011 at 10:26 AM.

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    I am not against the idea of reforming senate on a basis of election and a different schema that appropriately represents Canadians, and does not hurt the "voice" of the public in government. But I am not convinced that can be done, leading me to believe the best solution for Canada, and Canadians as voters and taxpayers is to abolish the senate.

  32. #32

    Default Canada’s only elected senator also the most expensive

    I hate that the taxes I pay goes towards this crap:

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/11...ost-expensive/

    OTTAWA — Canada’s only elected, sitting senator Bert Brown spent $331,000 on travel and other expenses in the last fiscal year, more than any of his colleagues in the Red Chamber, government documents show.

    The Conservative senator from Alberta charged taxpayers nearly $180,000 in travel expenses and $151,000 for “research assistance, staff and other expenses,” according to the government’s annual record of public accounts.

    Overall, the country’s senators spent $7.2-million on trips and more than $13.2-million on research assistance, staff and other expenses between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011.

  33. #33

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    Sentate is getting some more bad press.

    Seems having demintia doesn't stop one from being an effective member:

    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/...nadian-senate/

    69 year old senators Jet setting with 23 year old wives is another:

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/...rticle4504707/

  34. #34

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    Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall starts the ball rolling toward Senate abolition

    http://www.nationalpost.com/index.html

    Its interesting, at a time when the NDP are hammering the Conservatives on the Senate expense scandal, we see Conservatives in Saskatchewan (home of the NDP) step up and start the ball rolling in advancing a big policy platform of the NDP. I hope this gains momentum. Its something that the Conservatives (who are realizing an elected chamber will never happen) and NDP basically can agree on.

    This is a strength for the NDP over the Liberals IMO, the Liberals not having a coherent policy on the Senate (other than it has to change, but the constitution can't be reopened).
    Last edited by moahunter; 07-11-2013 at 08:34 AM.

  35. #35

    Default Trudeau throws Liberal senators out of caucus

    Nice move by Trudeau, while. I favor abolishment, this is a step in the right direction IMO.

    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2...caucus.bb.html

  36. #36

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    I am reluctant to admit it, but that is one cagey move by Trudeau the younger.

  37. #37

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    It's obvious that if you have another house in place to, among other things, to police the system and reduce the risk that bad decisions could do irreparable harm to the country, then they should be independent and not under the thumb of a political party. The current system just encourages conflicted interests favouring party rule. An elected senate, where you end up having to choose from the same parties, with the same command and control, always seemed useless to me as the 'self-dealing' would still contaminate the system.

    I'd rather have a near random selection, or maybe better, an appointments of "experts" and a few generalists from across the country to provide "sober second thought" and educated guidance to the government. That would provide a different cross-section view of the country than constituents representing the same geographic regions as do the MPs.

  38. #38

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    ^id rather have like Denmark or New Zealand, no second chamber, but instead select committees for sober second thought with experts relevant to the legislation. Much, much, cheaper. My concern is people are political regardless of whether they are a member of a party. What if the Liberals gain power and their legilsation is held up because most senators have conservative leanings or vice versa? There's even less accountability then.

    Still, smart move by Trudeau, puts the heat on Harper / turns tables.

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    Of course, one might ask, if it is such a good idea to free senators of the burdens of caucus, why not free M.P.s of the LPC shackles too ...

    Unless this was just a giant free publicity stunt.

    Can hardly wait to see these newly independent Senators voting thier conscience rather than toeing the party line. *snigger*
    ... gobsmacked

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    so I guess the poll should be adjusted to add another column now?

    Maybe time for another poll methinks.
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  41. #41

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    ^isn't it, "status quo - unelected senate"? Seems the liberal senators will probably form their own caucus.

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    The US Senate was unelected at 1st senators where appointed by the president but states could (and did) reject appointments. This changed with the 17th Amendment in 1913, when Senate elections started.
    http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/...evelopment.htm

    The Senate can be a very useful tool to grant under populated regions rights over their area, should Ontario and Quebec tell 1/2 of Canada what to do? No, there should be negotiations on various areas to see what will work for all Canadians.

    Justin's removing the Senators from caucus might be a publicity stunt to say he is in support of elected Senators or a way to distance him from the Liberal Senators expense problems which probably will surface in the near future.

    I think they should be elected perhaps on a similar 6 year, with 1/3rd being voted on every 2 years like the US Senate. It will allow the Canadians an option to express their approval or disapproval of the government's direction more frequently. It would also reduce a landslide election swings based on some hyped up event.
    Last edited by sundance; 31-01-2014 at 03:37 PM.

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    Looks like Canada West Foundation thinks it's a good idea...

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/01...Canada+Alberta
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  44. #44

    Default Liberal Senators are Revolting

    Seems most still consider themselves Liberal senators:

    http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/01...caucus-ouster/

    I'm guessing they are pretty upset not being part of the "decision making" process in caucus though - it goes to show how useless powerless and useless the senate is though if it isn't elected. And an elected senate, like the article ^ above shows, is likely distortive against the West.

    I guess if the Senate can't be abolished, I'm actually open to Trudeau's ideas.
    Last edited by moahunter; 31-01-2014 at 01:50 PM.

  45. #45

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    ^ great piece on CBC this morning on the topic.

    They touched on a few things.... and why its was important for Trudeau to do this not because of senate reform but for him to be able to actually lead the party.

    Some pints are...

    1) The new free senators are in shell shock. They don't know what to do with their new Independence.

    2) Justin with one swoop got rid of a lot of old baggage. i.e Martin/Chretien rivalry

    3) Removed a lot of people who had a legacy view of the party and over estimated their ability to stir party platform/decisions.
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  46. #46

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    The problem with this move, as it would be with any apparently popular proposal by the hated "left", is that Canadians on balance do not vote based on the issues they claim they are important to them. No do they vote based on integrity, or transparency, or honesty, or freedom from moral turpitude, or even and especially their monetary self-interest.

    Canadians overwhelmingly vote the way they cheer hockey games. With unswerving and ultimately unsatisfactory devotion to the "team" they have been conditioned to cheer for. And the team only changes once every three generations.

    Think this does not apply to you? Fine. It does not apply to you. But it's still true, in the final reckoning.

    Unfortunately, Harper and the rest of his type in power will have nothing to fear for the next century or so.
    Last edited by AShetsen; 31-01-2014 at 05:04 PM.

  47. #47

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    Senate reform - which options do you like?
    One option would be to take them all out back for a flogging or they could all be strapped to the undercarriage of a plane and dropped off in the middle of the ocean or a third option , locking them all in a vault and make them listen to Justin Bieber music all day.
    I have conversed with the worst kind of hectoring, bully pulpit smart-a**e*; dripping with virtuous self-aggrandizing sanctimony.................. and that's just on this forum.

  48. #48

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
    Senate reform - which options do you like?
    One option would be to take them all out back for a flogging or they could all be strapped to the undercarriage of a plane and dropped off in the middle of the ocean or a third option , locking them all in a vault and make them listen to Justin Bieber music all day.
    My point exactly. So much violent homicidal "joking" and yet the vote goes the way you know it will go.

  49. #49
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    I would rather go for elected Senate similar to US senate who get elected by the people.
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  50. #50

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    Yeah, we can see how well that is working right now. Or rather, isn't working.

  51. #51

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    Trudeau to appoint five Independent senators in January as first step to take partisanship out of upper chamber | Ottawa Citizen

    http://ottawacitizen.com/news/nation...-upper-chamber


    And my thoughts from last year... So I tend to think this is a great move by Trudeau. Having some higher degree of expertise on various issues like science, business, trade, social work etc. might serve to temper the purely political short-term vote getting weaknesses we see in the House of Commons.

    Something like a qualified group of experts on board might lead to things like preparing for climate climate regulation (without the on-again, off-again dogma based approach we've had) with a non-partisan body taking a longer term view of the scientific issues.


    Quote Originally Posted by KC View Post
    It's obvious that if you have another house in place to, among other things, to police the system and reduce the risk that bad decisions could do irreparable harm to the country, then they should be independent and not under the thumb of a political party. The current system just encourages conflicted interests favouring party rule. An elected senate, where you end up having to choose from the same parties, with the same command and control, always seemed useless to me as the 'self-dealing' would still contaminate the system.

    I'd rather have a near random selection, or maybe better, an appointments of "experts" and a few generalists from across the country to provide "sober second thought" and educated guidance to the government. That would provide a different cross-section view of the country than constituents representing the same geographic regions as do the MPs.
    Last edited by KC; 03-12-2015 at 11:39 PM.

  52. #52
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    I would like to see it stay the way it is. I would hate to see the same as in the usa where nothing can get passed and bills go to stalemate. Better get a few libs in there quick so the system can go to work.

  53. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drumbones View Post
    I would like to see it stay the way it is. I would hate to see the same as in the usa where nothing can get passed and bills go to stalemate. Better get a few libs in there quick so the system can go to work.
    Might as well just merge it into the House of Commons, if it is just going to rubber stamp the ruling party's bills. Right now it's partisan with its weighting based on the number of retiring senators that occurs under a particular party.

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    They have some very good discussion in there at times and do hold things back for deeper scrutiny. On occasion a bill is not passed but tied up in the senate until a few changes are made. I like the way our government runs and has worked well for us for 150 years. I have travelled a lot and have seen some screwed up governments. Talking to many people about their politics and systems and having a few experiences first hand have made me thankful for what we have.
    Last edited by Drumbones; 04-12-2015 at 04:56 AM.

  55. #55

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    Agreed but there is always room for improvement. It has become too partisan in the past few decades. We need sober second thought that represent the peoples' wishes and the ethics of good government.
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  56. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmonton PRT View Post
    We need sober second thought that represent the peoples' wishes and the ethics of good government.
    You can easily get that from having select committees appointed based on expertise, not patronage, for specific legislation. That's what countries who don't have an upper house, do (e.g. Denmark, New Zealand).

    I think this is all very noble re Trudeau, but what happens when he finds one of his bills delayed in the Senate (which is still Conservative dominated), just like Harper had happen to him from the previous Liberal Senate? Its just a matter of time before it happens. Something he cares about will get held up, because, holding things up, is what Senates do.

  57. #57

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Edmonton PRT View Post
    We need sober second thought that represent the peoples' wishes and the ethics of good government.
    You can easily get that from having select committees appointed based on expertise, not patronage, for specific legislation. That's what countries who don't have an upper house, do (e.g. Denmark, New Zealand).

    I think this is all very noble re Trudeau, but what happens when he finds one of his bills delayed in the Senate (which is still Conservative dominated), just like Harper had happen to him from the previous Liberal Senate? Its just a matter of time before it happens. Something he cares about will get held up, because, holding things up, is what Senates do.
    Right you are. Fill it with experts not lackeys.

    We know how committees and commissions work. They too are politically biased, produce reports, get media and then nothing ever happens.

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    For it to be accountable it must be elected not appointed. I'd have elections staggered from the House of Commons elections (except for by-elections to fill vacancies).

  59. #59

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    ^Its odd, Harper tried to do that, with the initiative to appoint senators who were elected by provinces, but the provinces, aside from Alberta, didn't like that. I think what the Provincial leaders want, like Quebec, is for them to be able to appoint the senators. You can understand why (basically, it gives them power to appoint a person for life). I wouldn't mind being on Trudeau's senator selection committee - I'd imagine they will get a lot of people taking them to dinner.

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    And that was one of Harper's failings, he could have only appointed senators that were elected, and if a province chooses not to have an election the seat remained vacant. But alas he followed the path of other politicians before him and continued appointing.

    A do not see any meaningful change happening under Trudeau's tenure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sundance View Post
    And that was one of Harper's failings, he could have only appointed senators that were elected, and if a province chooses not to have an election the seat remained vacant. But alas he followed the path of other politicians before him and continued appointing.

    A do not see any meaningful change happening under Trudeau's tenure.
    Or any other PM, because any meaningful change requires approval of 7 of 10 provinces representing at least 50% of the population (or unanimous approval, if abolishing it is the goal). The Supreme Court was pretty clear on that. It's a nearly impossibly high bar for any government to clear, regardless of who it is.

    It's not a situation anyone is happy with, but short of a miracle I don't see any realistic opportunity to resolve it.

  62. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by sundance View Post
    And that was one of Harper's failings, he could have only appointed senators that were elected,
    Perhaps, but he wouldn't have been able to pass much of the legislation he wanted to pass, because the Liberal senators were holding it up. He would have been a lame duck.

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    I like the idea of a body that is as non-partisan as possible whose job is to study proposed legislation and either reject or make amendments to bills that they consider to have serious problems. Elected representatives must always have the power to overrule the unelected, but there is nothing wrong with the Senate delaying legislation and ensuring that the electorate knows exactly what their government in the Commons is trying to do.

    Christy Clark had a good point when she complained that anything that legitimizes the senate heightens the problem with the representation formula though. Unfortunately, that is something that can't be changed without opening the constitution.

  64. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    I like the idea of a body that is as non-partisan as possible whose job is to study proposed legislation and either reject or make amendments to bills that they consider to have serious problems. Elected representatives must always have the power to overrule the unelected, but there is nothing wrong with the Senate delaying legislation and ensuring that the electorate knows exactly what their government in the Commons is trying to do.

    Christy Clark had a good point when she complained that anything that legitimizes the senate heightens the problem with the representation formula though. Unfortunately, that is something that can't be changed without opening the constitution.
    They could still be elected but make sure they aren't part of any political party. Say people could elect the most popular climatologist or scientist from a group of scientists put forward one year to fill a role decided upon by the Senate itself which might be charged with having a diverse representation of people across all facets of Canadian society. As long term issues like global warming, native reconciliation, international trade, minority rights, etc. arise, expertise could be appointed to the senate as a means to ensuring the best legislation comes out of the House of Commons. So we'd have more experts in various fields and not just lawyers and successful politicians and party hacks parroting the policy lines of the most successful senate stacker party.
    Last edited by KC; 12-12-2015 at 09:37 PM.

  65. #65

    Default So much for a non partisan senate...

    Its still about patronage:

    ■Peter Harder, a former bureaucrat who led Justin Trudeau's transition team.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/sena...eral-1.3496977

  66. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    Its still about patronage:

    ■Peter Harder, a former bureaucrat who led Justin Trudeau's transition team.
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/sena...eral-1.3496977
    Power corrupts.

  67. #67

    Default Trudeaus' Senate - Still unelected - now more unaccountable

    Deafening silence from Liberal supporters who didn't like Harper appointing senators.

    But in the belief that partisanship is the big problem in the Senate, Trudeau is doing his utmost to make himself completely unaccountable for the behaviour or character of any senator.

    He kicked all senators out of his parliamentary caucus last year. He then ceded the responsibility to appoint senators to what he describes as an independent, arms-length board.

    And these new senators -- worthies though they may all be -- may do whatever they please until they retire at age 75.

    Trudeau was right on this: The hyper-partisan approach of too many Conservative senators was a problem.

    But it is not the biggest problem of the Senate. The big problem is that senators are unelected and unaccountable.

    Trudeau's new system for appointing senators is just as opaque -- and arguably more so -- than what came before and his idea to make them all "independent" makes them even more unaccountable.
    http://www.torontosun.com/2016/03/18...-unaccountable

  68. #68

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    Senate reform - which options do you like?

    Get everyone out, fumigate the place, buy strong locks, lock the doors, let nobody back in, ever.
    I have conversed with the worst kind of hectoring, bully pulpit smart-a**e*; dripping with virtuous self-aggrandizing sanctimony.................. and that's just on this forum.

  69. #69
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    Too bad about that pesky constitution.

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    ^^^What would you expect from liberal supporters? The liberals weren't the ones grandstanding against the Senate.

  71. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel Petrin View Post
    Too bad about that pesky constitution.
    Too bad about the democratic checks and balances that were usurped by party politics.

  72. #72

    Default Maybe duffy did nothing wrong?

    Seems he has won over the judge so far (more rulings to come):

    http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/all-c...ssed-1.2868614

    Ontario Court Justice Charles Vaillancourt has dismissed all 31 counts against Sen. Mike Duffy, who stood trial on charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery.

    The dismissed counts included allegations that Duffy filed expense claims or residency declarations containing false information, and that he expensed personal travel and a “shopping trip” to pick up a puppy under the guise of legitimate Senate business.
    I'm not really surprised - the broken system is designed to let Senators have a good life, its not really an abuse of a Senator to take advantage of that. Becoming a senator, is basically like winning a lottery (albeit, if you have powerful friends, you have more influence over winning).

  73. #73
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    There's a difference between "wrong", and "illegal". I think Duffy did plenty wrong. So have a few dozen other Senators past and present. But from what the judge has been saying, little or nothing was illegal, because the Senate rules about these things were so vague and poorly conceived.

  74. #74

    Default

    Unbelievable. Along with a slick lawyer Duffy bull chitted his way out of that mess.
    Now he is going to be more insufferable.
    I have conversed with the worst kind of hectoring, bully pulpit smart-a**e*; dripping with virtuous self-aggrandizing sanctimony.................. and that's just on this forum.

  75. #75

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    I don't know,Duffy was completely exonerated on 31 charges against him and the PMO'so office was lambasted by the judge for conspiring to force Duffy to take the money. That is pretty damming against Wright, his boss (Harper) and all his minions.

    Sure the Senate was a mess but Harper did NOTHING about fixing the Senate in 10 years even though he originally wanted Senate reform. The judge's comments clearly indicate a PMO that was more out of control and corrupt than the Senate.

    If it was a hockey score with Duffy scoring 31 goals and the PMO with the only goal of scoring in their own net you have to consider this a complete win for Duffy. Remember it was the Crown Procequter picked by the PC government and a judge favorable to them as well
    Last edited by Edmonton PRT; 21-04-2016 at 11:06 PM.
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    Glad to see this myself. I felt sorry for the guy. I felt all the way through this that Duffy was innocent. Have never trusted Harper and to me it just shows more of his sneaky corrupt bs we put up with for 10 years.

  77. #77

    Default Unelected senate now over-riding democracy

    Senators are vowing to rewrite Bill C-14, federal legislation legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia, from top to bottom, and refusing to pass the bill until their amendments are accepted by the Commons. An excited Sen. George Baker predicts “this could go on forever.” The bill may have passed the House of Commons by a vote of 186 to 137, but what are the wishes of MPs or the public which elected them compared to those of people who once contributed to the Liberal party or kept quiet about a Conservative scandal?

    Already there is talk the Senate might go on to amend or defeat legislation enacting electoral reform, when it lands. And beyond that, who knows? Freed of the caucus whips, senators are now accountable neither to the public nor to any elected officials, but only to themselves.

    In a sense there is nothing new here. Even in the bad old days before Justin Trudeau’s “non-partisan, merit-based” appointment process, senators have shown themselves increasingly unconstrained by their own illegitimacy. Bills have been defeated or obstructed in recent decades with growing frequency, on matters ranging from abortion to free trade to the GST to global warming. But clearly the Trudeau reforms have catapulted the Senate into a whole new era of activism. And why not?

    ...

    For 86 individuals, however distinguished or high-minded, to substitute their own judgment for those the people elected to represent them is in gross violation of that principle. Those prepared to look the other way this time, because they agree with the result, must reckon with the likelihood that the next time it will be something with which they do not agree. And if, on sober second thought, we agree that democracy comes first — that it is the principle that must be upheld before all others — then it is time the Senate were told to mind its place.
    http://news.nationalpost.com/full-co...e-of-democracy

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    I wouldn't say overriding democracy. Their purpose is to be "the house of sober second thought", so if the proposed law will be overruled by the Supreme Court, then it makes sense to amend the law so it would stand once passed.

    But yes senators should be elected.

  79. #79
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    ^ I agree. The senate is doing its job in amending a flawed bill that does not conform to the requirements of the relevant supreme court ruling. This is not a bunch of senators appointed by party A intentionally trying to make life difficult for party B after a change in government. On the other hand, the latter sort of thing has been known to happen in the past.

  80. #80

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    ^That's fine and dandy, until the Liberals realize their legislation looks nothing like what they wanted:

    The ministers did not explicitly say the government will formally reject the amendment, which is just the first of many the Senate is expected to pass. It's up to the House of Commons to determine whether to accept or reject amendments from the upper house.

    But their continued defence of the bill and their dismissal of any substantive changes sets up the potential for a deadlock between the two houses of Parliament.

    The two ministers were careful not to criticize appointed senators for voting to make a significant change to a bill approved by the elected House of Commons. But Conservative Sen. David Tkachuk said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reaping what he sowed when he kicked senators out of the Liberal caucus and set up a process for appointing non-partisan, independent senators in a bid to return the Senate to its intended role as an independent chamber of sober second thought.

    "If there'd been Liberal senators in there, we wouldn't be in this mess," said Tkachuk, who voted against the amendment.

    "Much as I dislike the Liberals, they won the majority ... They should be in charge of the place but they're obviously not."

    Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said the apparent collision course between the two chambers is a sign of a bigger problem.

    "We have the courts making laws in this country and now we have an unelected Senate changing the laws of an elected House," Ambrose told a news conference Thursday.
    http://www.thepeterboroughexaminer.c...g-bill-ambrose

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    They might have won an election, but what is the point of passing legislation that will be almost immediately struck down by the Supreme Court.

  82. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by sundance View Post
    They might have won an election, but what is the point of passing legislation that will be almost immediately struck down by the Supreme Court.
    Sure, senators, can change any legislation then, and hold it up indefinitely if the government of the day doesn't agree with it, because they think they know better what the Supreme Court want. I don't personally mind the ideas of the senate here, I actually agree with them, but those aren't the policies of the government Canadians voted for.

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    I don't think you can reasonably say that the senate is trying to thwart the will of the people. Assisted death was not a major election issue, and IIRC the specifics of this bill were never even discussed during the campaign.

    The problem is that this is a potentially unstable arrangement. There is no mechanism to stop the senate should they decide to hold up future legislation for less noble reasons. Whether the senate continues to be appointed or transitions to an elected body, there needs to be some sort of override. It could be something like a 2/3 majority vote in the commons or a joint sitting of the two bodies (which would be dominated by the commons, with over 300 members compared to less than 100 senators).

  84. #84
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    Didn't matter if it was an election issue, the Supreme Court ruled in February 2015, before the election that the federal government had to change the laws by February 2016. Then they granted a 4 month extension as the new law wasn't in place.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carter...ney_General%29

  85. #85

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    Quote Originally Posted by sundance View Post
    Didn't matter if it was an election issue, the Supreme Court ruled in February 2015, before the election that the federal government had to change the laws by February 2016.
    No it didn't, it doesn't say anywhere in that decision that the federal government have to do something. They delayed the implementation of their decision to give government time, but the government could do nothing if it chose (which is looking possible if the Liberals decide they don't like what the senate has decided). The only way the federal government could remove the stalemate then, assuming they don't want to just give in, would be to appoint Liberal senators.

    This issue is going to come up again and again. Take electoral reform for example, there is no way that senate is going to allow the Liberals to change the electoral system without a referendum.
    Last edited by moahunter; 10-06-2016 at 03:57 PM.

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    Uh yah, it was in the conclusion of the decision, they essentially allowed a suspension of the Charter violation for a 12 month period. The Supreme Court later allowed Parliament an addition 4 month suspension.
    XIII. Conclusion
    [147] The appeal is allowed. We would issue the following declaration, which is suspended for 12 months:
    Section 241(b) and s. 14 of the Criminal Code unjustifiably infringe s. 7 of the Charter and are of no force or effect to the extent that they prohibit physician-assisted death for a competent adult person who
    (1) clearly consents to the termination of life and
    (2) has a grievous and irremediable medical condition (including an illness, disease or disability) that causes enduring suffering that is intolerable to the individual in the circumstances of his or her condition.
    http://www.lexisnexis.ca/documents/2015scc005.pdf

  87. #87

    Default

    It used to be that senators were accountable to their parties - they vote on party lines. But Trudeau has tried to change that, making it that senators can independently do whatever they want (even though they weren't elected). So, while I am no fan of Liberal budgets or legislation, I think the inevitable consequence of Trudeau's stupidity is now occurring, the senate is refusing to pass Trudeau's budget bill (which inappropriately contains items like an infrastructure bank, but such is how parliament works today). What will Mr Trudeau do? There is only one answer - appoint partisian senators. This mess was inevitable, the senate is a useless body of fat leeches off our society, and now, its a completely unaccountable obstructionist one (as it was, against Harper, Mulroney, etc.).

    http://www.macleans.ca/politics/hous...s-over-budget/

    The message was sent, without debate and with unanimous approval of MPs from all parties in the Commons, less than three hours after the Senate gave final approval to an amended version of the budget bill, deleting provisions that would impose a so-called escalator tax on booze.

    Senators must now decide whether to insist upon their amendments or defer to the will of the elected chamber. But they were so insulted by the assertion that they don’t have the right to amend budget bills that they almost unanimously refused to even consider the message later Wednesday, putting it off until Thursday and potentially disrupting MPs’ summer break.
    Last edited by moahunter; 22-06-2017 at 09:17 AM.

  88. #88

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    It used to be that senators were accountable to their parties - they vote on party lines. But Trudeau has tried to change that, making it that senators can independently do whatever they want (even though they weren't elected). So, while I am no fan of Liberal budgets or legislation, I think the inevitable consequence of Trudeau's stupidity is now occurring, the senate is refusing to pass Trudeau's budget bill (which inappropriately contains items like an infrastructure bank, but such is how parliament works today). What will Mr Trudeau do? There is only one answer - appoint partisian senators. This mess was inevitable, the senate is a useless body, and now, its an obstructionist one (as it was, against Harper, Mulroney).

    http://www.macleans.ca/politics/hous...s-over-budget/

    The message was sent, without debate and with unanimous approval of MPs from all parties in the Commons, less than three hours after the Senate gave final approval to an amended version of the budget bill, deleting provisions that would impose a so-called escalator tax on booze.

    Senators must now decide whether to insist upon their amendments or defer to the will of the elected chamber. But they were so insulted by the assertion that they don’t have the right to amend budget bills that they almost unanimously refused to even consider the message later Wednesday, putting it off until Thursday and potentially disrupting MPs’ summer break.
    Are you Moahunter seriously opposed to the senate blocking the budget bill. I think it's working perfectly

  89. #89

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    ^I think its karma and its funny that Trudeau's elitist stupidity that calling an appointed patronage hack independent is somehow going to make them reasonable, is backfiring, but yeah, I don't at all like an unelected body of fat privileged individuals accountable to no-one, preventing an elected body from passing legislation. But agreed, that's what Trudeau wanted, "Sober second thought"... poor thing, he will have to reschedule his vacation now (well, probably not, just those of most of his MP's).
    Last edited by moahunter; 22-06-2017 at 09:22 AM.

  90. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    ^I think its karma and its funny that Trudeau's elitist stupidity that calling an appointed patronage hack independent is somehow going to make them reasonable, is backfiring, but yeah, I don't at all like an unelected body of fat privileged individuals accountable to no-one, preventing an elected body from passing legislation. But agreed, that's what Trudeau wanted, "Sober second thought"... poor thing, he will have to reschedule his vacation now (well, probably not, just those of most of his MP's).
    There be no point in having a Senate if they worked for the parties . It needs independent, a sober second thought

    Do agree they need elected . Let each province <~~~it's people elects it's senator
    Last edited by champking; 22-06-2017 at 11:22 AM.

  91. #91
    I'd rather C2E than work!
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    Bert Brown must be salivating over this. Could we get a Triple E senate out of this? #Doubtful
    Mom said I should not talk to cretins!

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