Friday, May 27, 2011

Canadians Now Fine With Abolishing the Senate

A new poll conducted by Harris-Decima reveals that the majority of Canadians would be receptive to opening the constitution, to abolish the Senate.

Time limits or elections are not the answer.

Senators now have no function. The only time we ever see Hugh Segal in Kingston, is when there's an election.

Then he goes back into hiding, collecting an enormous salary for doing nothing other than propping up the Harper government.

Enough is enough.

1 comment:

  1. The Senate as it was designed is actually a very important institution. The problem isn't the Senate, it is Harper.

    "The Chamber of Sober Second Thought".

    The Senate is a very important part of Canada's democratic checks and balances. That is why it is key that it be unelected -- elected officials are bound by opinion polls and short-term thinking, whereas those who are unelected are not.

    I am also against term limits on principle; that fact that Harper introduced term limits though at least puts an expiry date on his disastrous Senate choices.

    However, I do think we need to devise a different Senate appointment process. The idea behind the appointments is supposed to be that you appoint Canadians who have something to offer Canada -- who have served their communities, or who have particular insights and experience and wisdom to offer this Chamber of Sober Second Thought.

    Party affiliation should have nothing to do with it; alas, Harper has abused the intent and design of the Senate, and has politicized it in a way that it was never meant to be. Chrétien and Trudeau appointed senators from all parties, not just Liberals. (And while I think that retired business people are legitimate picks, Mila's hairdresser likely doesn't make the cut...) But Harper wants to turn the Senate into another lever of Prime Ministerial power, and well, he has succeeded.

    If we had a process in which prominent Canadians, people who work in Canadian communities and make a valuable contribution, were to nominate Senators; if there were a Commons committee with representation from all parties, or something similar, then we could rejuvenate the Senate.

    Because our democracy will not function properly without a second chamber.

    However, Harper has so abused the Senate, by politicizing it and trashing in throughout his career, that Canadians have metaphorically thrown in the towel on the Senate. This is very dangerous.

    But you see, this is an example of Harper's most insidious threat to Canada: the way he changes expectations over time. He has succeeded in convincing a majority of Canadians that the Senate is useless. One of the few checks on Prime Ministerial power. Nice trick.

    Want to bet that healthcare is next?

    All his think tanks and various supporters have been working over the years to article by argument, convince Canadians that what we really need is private for-profit players in our healthcare system. They have already convinced Canadians that our healthcare system is expensive and ineffective. All these are lies if you make a study comparing different health care systems. (there is no perfect system; each one has problems. Ours is uniquely cost-effective. There are things we can do to improve care, but everything will require an increase in funds -- ours is FAR from being expensive!-- the question is, will we make it a fair system based on need, or a system in which the rich get preferential treatment? Will we make it into a for-profit system which skims off 20-30% profits out of monies which should be used for care? These are the questions Canadians will be answering, whether or not the questions are ever posed to them in such explicit terms).

    And this is how Harper is irrevocably changing Canada.