Even though the initial purpose of the Senate in Canada was to guarantee provincial representation in the government, its principles of independence and impartiality are believed to be a compromise. For instance, in the views of the general public, the only purpose of the Senate is approving the agenda of the present government or acting as biased. The primary intention of the establishment of the Canadian Senate which is to represent provincial identities and interests is missing. In its place, regional rulers have been adapting these responsibilities via different means such as conferences, leaders’ meetings, and 1st
ministers’ conferences. These ideas also apply while applying the Canadian democracy since Senators are single-handedly an appointment of the prime minister and can serve till 75 years. Senators are not accountable to the citizens through elections, and thus, their authority as a Senate to practice its purpose is a doubt. Canadian Senate should be reformed since it has been suffering from democratic and federalist deficits for a long time.
Rendering to champions of reforms, the way the Canadian administrative system operates currently with 24 senators in every regional state, six allocated to Labrador, and Newfoundland do not replicate the real politics of modern Canadian national relationships. The arrangement of the upper house has never gone down well with Prime Minister Harper and together with the conservatives; he has always wanted to reform the Senate to make it more efficient. Carbert suggested that the possibility of Senate reform has always been such that its implications on minorities do not often come under discussion. Because of these, he advocates through the policy of the triple E that stands for equal, elected and effective Senate and, to achieve this, reforms in the Canadian Senate are crucial.
However, all the hard work to modify the governing body (Senate) has been failing for the past several years. The present government’s ultimate resolution is to accomplish the task of reformation. The conformist government, which is under the Prime Minister, suggests cutting down the period Senators’ rule and choosing them by ballot. Nonetheless, the government is operating into tough political oppositions. The Senate in Canada keeps hold of a central position in the history of the country (Morton and Ted 9).Without a doubt, the alliances made in Canada for the past decades were because of the accord to take in the governing body (Senate) as it is now incorporated. The legislative body of Canada is an exclusive establishment, being the only succeeding chamber contained by the Canadian coalition, as well as, the only one in the western part whose affiliates are all chosen by the public.
In the Bill for the Agenda in the year 2006, Canada’s Prime Minister and the conformist government had established two bills to change the Senate. One was to institute restricted conditions for senators, reinstating the system on hand of appointment until one reaches 75 years. The other bill was to launch consultative voting for the legislature with the Prime Minister appointing the conquerors of the election. The “House of Commons” and the Senate heard the bills, but neither of them was ratified into ruling (Morton and Ted 9). In the first session of Canada’s forty-first parliament, Bill C-7 was proposed. The bill was based on an Act about choosing of senators as well as adjusting the Constitution Act, 1867 regarding Senate period restrictions.
The first part of the endorsement ascertains a structure for selecting Senate appointments contenders from the territories as well as provinces. Two main ideologies would be relevant to the procedure of election. The first one was that the Prime Minister while advocating Senate candidates to the “Governor General” for a region or province would be compelled to put into regard, names from a list of entrants presented by the regional or provincial administration (Morton and Ted 9). The second principle was that the contender’s record would resolve by a selection held according to the local or provincial laws ratified to put the framework into practice. The second part of the endorsement modifies the occupancy of senators. These proposals need to be laid down so that the citizens of Canada can achieve a Senate that most wish to have.
In the 41st Parliament, Mr. Harper had a majority in the house hence the agenda to reform the Senate was introduced through two previous bills that were now introduced as one that is, Bill C-7, the Senate reform act. This bill sought to reform the selection of senators and set there were term limits by amending the constitutional law of 1867. The assumption was that since the conservative had now a majority in the house, this bill will surely pass. Note that the Canadian Parliament has powers bestowed on it to amend parts of the Constitution that exclusively fall within its jurisdiction. The law intended to achieve this through legislation and both parts of the bill were indeed inline with the Constitution Act of 1982. It was therefore constitutional in principle (Thompson 64).
The bill, however, did not pass into law due to pertinent issues that were raised by the opposition and this stimulated the prime minister through the governor general to seek guidance from the court concerning the matter. There were two contentious issues, one relating to the framework to be used for electing nominees for Senate appointments from the province. This concerned issuesrelating to recommendation for Senate nominees to the governor general from a list from the provinces or territories. This list is for those who will have been elected through an election held inline with the provincial or territorial laws drawn by the framework (Thompson 64).
The second was the pertinent issue about the tenure of the senators to a one-off nine-year limit. The nature of the Canadian parliament from the past is that senators have generally been in office for an average period of between 9.7 years since 1975. Therefore, the provision in Bill C-7 was to limit the tenure of senators to one term of 9 years would in a real sense have no political or constitutional effect per see (Thompson 96). Thus, the character of the parliament would roughly remain the same. However, section 29A right up to 31 of the constitution states that a person referred to in subsection (1) whose term is interrupted may be summoned again to the Senate.
Understanding the effects of a Senate reform whether negative or positive becomes even more critical when acknowledging the fact that women constitute a significant percentage in the Senate compared to any other legislative body in Canada. The Senate Appointment Consultations Act postulates that the Prime Minister no longer holds the authority to appoint Senators instead of a voting process should be in place which allows a democratic placement of Senators.The proposed elements of the Bill C-20 stand on four crucial tenets which are of a preferential voting system, funding for campaigning, a board of nominations and local magnitude (Dion and Stephane 69).A scrutiny of these components of the bill suggests that women in the proposed situation could be at a central system of the government.
The country’s governance structure is in such way that parliament takes all key decisions; however, actions that are opposed to the country’s parliamentary system have not been avoided. At this point, the following dilemma has been set: should the power of the judiciary and the executive in Canada be under control so that the power of the country’s parliamentary system and the Senate is safe? The standard argument is that the limitation of the power of judiciary and executive in Canada would be entirely necessary to ensure that democracy in the country is sufficiently promoted (Thompson 64). The above argument is justified and appropriately backed by referring to the relevant literature. Particular emphasis is on the power of parties and the judiciary to define the terms on which Senate decisions in Canada are.
In the study of Charlton and Barker emphasis is given on the potential limitation of the party discipline in Canada, so that the freedom of the members of the Senate to be reduced. Reference is made to two, opposite, views. Kilgour, Kirsner, and McConnell note that party discipline in Canada should be reduced, or even eliminated since it reduces the power of the members of the Senate to vote and make decisions independently regarding the issues brought to the Senate for discussion and verification. The party discipline, as applied in the parliamentary system of Canada, means that the members of the Senate have to align their vote with the decisions of their party (Morton and Ted 9), a rule that has caused strong oppositions by the members of the Canadian Senate.
Similarly, the same problems are in the Canadian parliament where Kilgour has been a member of the since the year 1979 (Hicks and Bruce 17); in 1990 he voted against a bill of his party (Conservatives) regarding the authorization of Goods and Services Tax (Hicks and Bruce 17). As a result of the above decision, ‘he was expelled by his party’. Due to the above fact, he decided to join the Liberal Party (Hicks and Bruce 17). In 2005 he decided to continue his career as an independent member of the parliament, especially due to a claim for ‘governmental failures in using appropriately the funds related to a sponsorship program in Quebec’ (Hicks and Bruce 17).
The case of Kilgour shows that administrative discipline, as currently applied in Canada, prohibits both the senators and the MPs to criticize the decisions of their parties, even if the indications for failures related to party initiatives are many. In other words, party discipline in Canada should be significantly reduced, only applied in certain cases, or, if possible, eliminated, allowing the development of opposing views within the parliament. In this way, the quality of democracy in the specific country would be an improvement(Morton and Ted 9).
In any case, the problem would not be whether the Canadian Senate system would become similar with the American Congress system, where the members of the Congress have increased power to state their view (Stevenson and Ronald 19), or not. Instead, emphasis should be given on the level of democracy in Canada, as reflected in the country’s Senate and parliamentary system. The Senate reform discussion has been a common thing in the Canadian politics in the last 40 years. However, all the proposals ever presented for the Canadian Senate reforms have failed even though that does not make them useless. The reform proposals point out the main options for changes and offer valuable considerations of their relative weaknesses and advantages and, therefore, a visual basis for any Senate reform consideration in the future.
Researchers often argue that the current world is going to unilateralism, and actually many of them think that it is moving very slowly.The Senate, which is the 2nd
legislative chamber and the Upper House of the Canadian government, might be important in a relevant system as a form of representations of the provinces or the states but when there is no nationalism,then it becomes useless. The Senate copies the functions of the Lower House and most of the times it obstructs or delays the decisions (Dion andStephane 69). Therefore, it should be reformed to a one chamber structure that is more democratic, more accountable, and also efficient.
While still there is a clear agreement in Canada concerning the issues with the current Senate, there is no real agreement that has been found about the solution. Most people who advocate for these reforms come from less represented areas; however, their main concern mainly concentrates on the average Senate seat count(Morton and Ted 9). Thus, the push for Senate’s reforms is more a political affair and competition between the different provinces that want to add the number of seats in the Senate. More attention is needed on the Senate’s effectiveness, elections and equality since the minor reform proposals suggested by some senators are never enacted. It is clear, that after the Senate is reformed and elected by the public instead of the prime minister would boldly affect its powers and would reduce the governing problems in Canada.
In conclusion, the Canadian Senate needs proper reforms where a transparent process of senators’ appointment is put in place. The process can involve the amendment of constitution or by federal legislation. The appointment of Senators should be a properly thought out strategy and should involve the regional and national governments. By doing this, the process would be addressing the national and democratic deficits, and more importantly, the process would assist in the establishment of public confidence in the Senate which is with the responsibility of representing the interests of regions and their identities. Before the appointment of the Senate is finalized, government representatives should thoroughly vet a prospective candidate. These reforms might delay the process of appointment, but eventually, the citizens of Canada may achieve a more legitimate and effective Senate. The Canadian Senate is too crucial to the functions of the nation’s government for its process of appointment to be unilateral or be on partisanship, and therefore, its reform is inevitable.
Morton, Ted. "No Statecraft, Questionable Jurisprudence: How the Supreme Court Tried to Kill Senate Reform." Browser Download This Paper (2015). 9
Dion, Stephane. "Time for Boldness on Senate Reform, Time for the Trudeau Plan." Const. F. 24 (2015): 61.
Stevenson, Ronald. "Some Suggestions for Incremental Reform of the Senate." Canadian parliamentary review (2016): 19.
Hicks, Bruce M. "Placing Future Senate Reform in Context." Const. F. 24 (2015): 17.