Friday, March 24, 2006

No Senate elections in Saskatchewan

Senate reform is one of my pet issues, and I found myself agreeing with Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert today as he discussed the issue on Don Newman’s Politics broadcast this evening.

Calvert met with Stephen Harper yesterday, and Senate reform was one of the issues they discussed. Harper is looking for provinces to get onboard with Senate elections, but Calvert isn’t buying. He thinks, as I’ve blogged in the past, that having Senate elections without fundamental and substantial Senate reform just doesn't make sense.

Here's a transcript:

Don: Are you going to hold elections for Senate vacancies in your province?

Lorne: Well, we talked about that yesterday, the Prime Minister and I, and I again outlined my position. Some Canadians have talked about building an equal, an effective, AND an elected Senate. My position is we would not look at election until we got the other two straight. Why would we elect to the body that currently exists if we’ve not built a body that demonstrates equality and demonstrates effectiveness. So let’s work on the first two Es, and then we can consider how we choose Canadians.

Don: And I guess the Prime Minister has a different view? So you’re not on the same page there?

Lorne: On this we will not be on the same page.

I haven't been keeping track but I don't see many provinces hopping aboard this train.

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Don said...

I can't think of anything worse than an elected senate. The U.S. is the single biggest pork barrelling body in the world. A transportation bill last year adds over 280 billion dollars to the already bloated U.S. deficet. One of the projects was a 250 million dollar bridge in Alaska to connect an island of 50 people to the mainland. It would have been cheaper to buy every resisdent of the island a small, personal yacht instead.
The elected U.S. senate means that no one is acctable for the final budget. Here, in Canada, that sucker, good or bad, is owned directly by the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister.
In the U.S. everybody blames everyone else for the budget. Not here. Wonder why we can run a surplus?

Jeff said...

I like two of the Es of triple E, the elected and the effective. They shouldn't be equal to the HoC though, that opens up the door to the U.S. troubles you've decided. I think there's room to expand their role as a more effective chamber of "sober second thought."

My main concern though (as elaborated on on the previous post I linked to) is that electing Senators without reforming the Senate will

a)lead to the kinds of problems you mention, as elected Senators will feel free to exercise the powers they have today, but don't use recognizing it would be innappropriate for apointed Senators to routinely overule the HoC.

b) create two classes of Senators until the current class of appointeed age-out.

c) more importantly, remove the impetuts for any real Senate reform (which requires opening the constitition) and enshrine the current regional inequeties.

Senate reform, if it's going to be attempted, should be done wholesale, not piecemeal. I'd say scrap it, but then what would be do with that lovely red chamber?