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 Should Canada reform the Senate?

 

This question discusses whether Senate reform would help the Senate perform their job better.

This question assumes that the senate is a valuable and beneficial body for Canadian democracy.  There is a separate question for discussing Canadian Senate Elimination.

 

Senate reform is required

No Senate reform is required

 Introduction

Reform could improve the way the Senate works, and increase benefit to the Canadian people.  A more democratically elected and regionally representative senate would be preferable to the currently existing one.

Introduction

The current Senate setup is the best for the continued maximized benefit to the Canadian people.  Any problems with the senate are not systemic, but due to poor judgment of individuals.

Senator Selection

The current method of Senator selection is flawed.  Allowing the PM to select senators for appointment means that Senators are rewarded for favors to political parties rather than being selected based on merit. It would be fairer if Senators were selected by an election process.

Senator Selection

Senators are not elected so that there is a space in Canadian politics for individuals who are not politicians.  Sometimes the best people to do the job are not always the best at being elected.  For example, individuals with a history in science and technology are more often appointed to a political body than elected to one.

Long terms would be required for Senators as one of the functions of the upper house is to think long term.  Senators need to resist the temptation to strive for short term goals that will appease voters for upcoming elections at the cost of long term goals.

Regional Representation

Senators are selected on a regional basis, with the country divided into four major regions and then subdivided by province.  This distribution was assigned when Canadian population distribution was very different, and it is time to update the regional distribution so that representation is fair.  Better rules should also be in place to ensure that Senators actually represent the regions they are assigned to.

Regional Representation

Senators ultimately represent the interests of all of Canada, and should not be divided by regional interests.

Non-Partisan Senators

The senate could be improved by eliminating party loyalty by Senators.  The function of the senate is contrary to idea of Senators furthering the political interests of political parties.1  As well as not acting as party members, Senators should be selected using a non-partisan selection process.

Non-Partisan Senators

Individuals need to organize themselves into groups in order to effectively accomplish tasks.  In the political sphere, this has been accomplished with parties so that everyone understands the political views of individuals based on their party affiliations.  Eliminating the partisan affiliations of Senators would not change their political views or the way that they would work together to accomplish goals.

The Reform Process

Whatever the process for reform, we should as Canadians be pushing for change and working to improve the function of the Senate.

The Reform Process

The fathers of the Canadian constitution thought through the function of the Senate, and it has been working since confederation.  Changing it's functions would require constitutional amendment, and the provinces would need to be in agreement.1

 

Canada Senate Reform

How should Canada reform the Senate?

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Senator regional assignments should be updated to better represent the current Canadian population.
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The Senate should not be reformed
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Senators should be elected by Canadians rather than selected by the Prime Minister
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Senate Reform should include elimination of party affiliation
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Senate Reform should include all of the above
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References:

1.  Harper Senate reform bill rejected by Quebec appeal court

2.  Maclean's: How about a non-partisan Senate?

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