Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Shorter Susan Riley

Abolishing the Senate is too hard so let's not try.
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  1. Well, it almost certainly would require unanimous consent of the provinces. It is also not clear how a federal state functions in the absence of a house (theoretically) representing the units of the federation.

    The Senate has gone some useful things in the past 20 years, most crucially in forcing the free trade election of 1988 - as clear an example of "sober second thought" as needed. While I would happily see the method of appointment changed, so as to remove it from the sole discretion of the PM, I favour neither abolition nor Senate elections. An upper house which spends time to study issues in depth (which it does) and which only occasionally delays House legislation works quite well as is.

  2. As hard as getting rid of the thing will be, reforming it would be harder. Triple E is a non-starter for example, so there goes Alberta conservatives' pet solution. Ontario will fight like Hell to make sure there is no equal representation (as will Quebec). If we go with a two e senate, it will suddenly be another House of Commons and that is a recipe for paralysis.

    If there is a referendum and the question is do you want to abolish the Senate? I predict it will get an overwhelming yes. At that point, the politicians would be in a rough spot. I think Layton may have found the only way to break the logjam.