History is Missed in the Senate Debate


canadian-senate

A knowledge of history is missing in the Senate debate. I have not yet heard any reference to the reasoning for the Senate that the Fathers of Confederation used in their decision to form the Senate. At Confederation the Provinces were working out the conditions of government that they could live with in order to agree on becoming a country. The primary need for the Senate was to assure the smaller provinces that they would not be dominated by the larger, more populous provinces. Why would any small province agree to a state of servitude? As we know members of Parliament were to be elected according to the population of the individual Province. However, the Senate was designed to give smaller provinces balance and geographic areas protection. This is why, if there is talk of abolishing the Senate little PEI and Quebec stand up to protect the Senate. I have already heard Premier Ghiz speaking to the idea of reforming the Senate.

senate

Smaller provinces and the Territories still need a Senate to defend their interests. In the past they would have needed the balance from the much larger, more prosperous Ontario. Alberta is the richest Province and now the financial center of the country, so there is still a need a Senate to guard Provinces with special interests.

Canadian also do not realize, many of the Senators that sit in the Senate at this time are well seasoned veterans of politics and many times a bill will be sent back to Parliament with added good ideas to them. This is where there is value in the “sober second thought”.

There is a growing reason for Canada’s need to reform rather than to abolish the Senate, that is that any good democracy needed checks as well as balances. In the words of Lord Acton, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” With this Truth in mind, there is always a need for a check, the Upper House with real power, to stave off any Commons Leader grabbing too much power. Case in point, Prime Minister Harper would be much more leery of sneaking around making trade deals and the PMO skulking around in the shadows if the eyes of a Senate (with real power) where fixed on the doing of Parliament. This is why it is vital for the Senate to be reformed and given real power and also that Senators are elected by Canadians. Electing Senators would be an excellent way for Canadians to elect Independents to the Upper Chamber. This would be a way to avoid gridlock between the Chambers, but more importantly, I believe it would more be a way for Canadians to see the usefulness of Independents.

Call me cynical, but I believe that the whole Senate Scandal has become a ploy by the Prime Minister, to abolish the Senate and thus rid himself of any encumbrance to moving his bills to implementation. He has moved far from his Reform Party roots when he preached a Triple E Senate (what must the Reform part of the Conservative Party think about his turnaround).

We often hear advocates of abolishing the Senate point out the US Senate as an example of why we need to rid ourselves of the Senate. We see them speaking of the gridlock that the US was put in because the US Senate is what shut down the civil service over the raising of their debt ceiling. But anyone that understands American politics will realize that the shutdown was more a problem of party politics than their Senate itself. Those who have read my posts for a while will recognize my opinion of getting rid of the Party System itself, to eliminate all the problems associated with Parties (see below my blog on the trouble with the Party System, see The Party System, An Illusion of Democracy)

As always, if you have found new and provocative ideas  in my writing, please pass them on to your friend via Facebook and/or Twitter.

Associated article:

The Party System – An Illusion of Democracy

https://pushinback.wordpress.com/2013/06/02/the-party-system-an-illusion-of-a-democracy-9/

For your interest, a breakdown of the Senate.

PROVINCE / TERRITORY SEATS Conservatives Liberals
British Columbia 6 3 2
Alberta 6 3 2
Saskatchewan 6 4 2
Manitoba 6 4 2
Ontario 24 17 6
Quebec 24 14 8
Newfoundland 6 4 2
New Brunswick 10 6 4
Nova Scotia 10 6 4
Prince Edward Island 4 1 3
Yukon 1 1 0
Northwest Territories 1 0 1
Nunavut 1 1 0
TOTAL 104 64          36

(Thanks to “J.J.’s Complete Guide to Canada” for the chart)

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About pushinback

Back in 1993, I attended an anti-Nafta rally in Ottawa along with over 110,000 others. But despite the overwhelming opposition to NAFTA, the steamroller rolled on. It was there that I came to understand the one vital thing that I have been preaching ever since. There are so many issues, and so many fighting each issue, we are all spinning our wheels, and wasting our time, talents and energy, because each election, we give the politicians our power and so the deck is stacked against us. I said it that day and I say it with more fervency today. We all have one issue that we share, and we should all stop fighting for our own issues and losing anyways, and we should fight to achieve that one thing that we all share. We Canadians all have to fight to finally get a say between elections. We need to fight to make politicians accountable to us, the people. If there is no accountability, and the people have no say between elections, we have no Democracy. My Blog is written to teach the reader the essential knowledge of freedom and Democracy. Please read, and learn. I am one person, but I leave you my witness that one person is not powerless, only first you must first learn and then act. Let the democratic revolution begin. Kindest regards, Rob McQueen
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