The Senate has been much in the news lately, with the
expense troubles of a few Senators – compounded by the mishandling of their
investigation – bringing much negative attention
to the other place. While this is really a scandal about Stephen Harper’s
decision-making and the style of governance he fosters, a serious and real
national debate about the Senate’s place in our democracy is long overdue.
- An overhaul of representation in the House of Commons, including a reviewable cap on the number of MPs and the proportioning of seats purely on population, moving seats from declining-population areas to higher-population areas.
- An elected Senate, with set terms and an end to the archaic constitutional requirements for a minimum age and land ownership. Also, rebalancing representation so Senate seats are allotted equally by region.
- A revision of the powers and role of the Senate. It should be effective in reviewing and proposing legislation, and curbing the excesses of the House, but to avoid gridlock there should be a mechanism for the House to over-turn a Senate move to over-rule it if a certain threshold of support (say, two-thirds) can be achieved.