Killing it softly

letter to the editor from Murray Todd - Thoughts on abolishing the senate

To the editor;

The reprehensible behaviour of a few senators in the Canadian Senate has caused many Canadians to call for the abolition of that part of our government system.

Thomas Mulcair, leader of the NDP and never one to ignore a political wave when it passes by, is demanding the Senate be abolished. There are two components to the discussion.

We know that laws, conceived in anger and outrage then passed in haste, are often poor laws.  We should be equally suspicious of judgements also founded on outrage.

Abolishing the Canadian Senate may be a good idea but no-one knows for sure.  Since many of us are largely unaware of what the Senate does, and is intended to do, it follows that most of us might hold opinions on the matter but not a lot of knowledge.

Perhaps we should determine what it is delivering, what it is supposed to deliver and then make up our minds on whether it is delivering what it is supposed to deliver.  Can it be reformed so that it can deliver?  Or is there no possibility of it delivering what we want.

The second part of the discussion is the matter of the technical process for abolishing the Senate.  That is an entirely different matter and the pathway is far from clear. For Mr. Mulcair to loudly trumpet his intention to ‘roll up the red carpet’ indicates shocking ignorance or profound arrogance.

Those that know about these things tell us the Senate could be abolished by a constitutional amendment.  In order to pass that amendment would require either seven provinces with 50 per cent of the population or unanimous consent.  They aren’t sure which.  Another person states that in addition to provincial agreement, the Senate would have to vote itself out of existence.  That one could be tricky.

I’m thinking dealing with the Senate in isolation isn’t the best idea.  Consider that many people are also not happy with our first past the post system of electing Members of Parliament.

Let’s talk about the whole thing.  We’ve had the same system for 146 years and it has worked well.

But time changes circumstances. Now might be the perfect time to take stock of what we’ve got and see how we can make our system of government even better.

Murray Todd

Received by email

 

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