As an opposition MP, Stephen Harper had long advocated reforming the Senate. However, since coming to power, our “dear leader” has appointed many new senators regularly.
What happened to all the promises?
Harper repeatedly promised to reform the Senate to make it equal, elected and effective and subject to term limits. The Conservatives have promised these changes for years, but could not get them through a minority government. But now, even with a big majority in the House of Commons, nothing seems to happen to the desperately needed reform.
Just recently, Harper appointed seven new senators. Among the new senators two are from Quebec, two from Ontario, and one each from Manitoba, Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador. Prime Minister Harper has now named 46 Conservative senators, including several failed Tory election candidates.
Yes, this is what politics is about in case you thought different. Postings to the senate come with a base salary of $132,300. The government’s Senate Reform Act, which is still before the House of Commons, would still limit new senator’s terms to nine years and establish guidelines for provinces to voluntarily hold Senate nominee elections.
However, the act would not be binding on the prime minister when making appointments to the Senate. It is up to the provinces, however, to run the elections and to pay for them. Many provinces are reluctant to do this. Alberta is the only province to ever hold Senate elections. Quebec has threatened to fight the Senate legislation in court.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark want the Senate to be abolished. Many Canadians also want the Senate to be abolished. The Conservative government tabled its Senate reform bill which limits the term of all senators appointed after Oct. 14, 2008, to one nine year term.
Abolishing the Senate would require the unanimous approval of all provinces. “We are strongly opposed to any changes done to the Senate without the direct participation and consent of Quebec and other provinces,” Premier Jean Charest said.
A number of provinces say the reforms require constitutional amendments that must be approved by at least seven provinces with 50 per cent of the population. Many Canadians don’t think the Senate serving any useful purpose today. However, not much has been accomplished from talking about it.
Before the age limit proposal, a senator could serve a lifetime mandate. The New Democrats want the Senate abolished altogether. The party has never been able to appoint a senator. The Senate serves no useful purpose and is a huge cost to Canadian taxpayers.
With the new appointments, the Conservative now have a large Senate majority, with 61 seats. The Liberals have 41 seats. The Senate also has two independents and one from the former Progressive Conservatives.