Thursday, July 11, 2013

MythBuster: senate can't be abolished

According to the Canadian Press, two constitutional experts proclaim abolishing the senate is impossible.

“The Atlantic provinces would basically say (the Senate) is the reason why we came into Confederation,” said Mendes.
“And that makes it the end of the story (on abolition),” added Franks.

Three reasons this hypothesis is ridiculous:

1) It’s anachronistic. Assuming Mendes’ assessment is accurate, what Atlantic provinces wanted out of Confederation 150 years ago and what they want today are two different things.

Today Atlantic Canadians are probably more interested in job training and steady healthcare funding. They want to work with the federal government towards their goals directly; not indirectly through senators appointed from Ottawa.

2) It mistakes the theoretical for the real world. Theoretically, the senate is supposed to give the provinces a voice at the federal table. Realistically, the senate has been corrupted with partisan appointments since Confederation.

One PM stacks the senate to a majority and whips senate votes. Another comes along and does the same. In the real world, the provinces have little to no representation through the senate.

3) It ignores democracy. The Charlottetown Accord package of constitutional amendments was put before Canadians in a national referendum. The same could happen to determine the fate of the senate. Abolition will require the support of either 7 of 10 or all 10 provinces. If Canadians produce that support in a federal referendum, no indirectly-elected premier will be able to stand in the way of democracy.

Canadians should not be misled by pompous academics. Canada is a democracy. The fate of the senate lies in our hands.

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