With all the exasperation over the Senate coming out in recent months, the idea of outright abolition has often been repeated.
Before this, the Harper government had been talking about ways to reform the upper chamber. Getting rid of it, many maintained, would be nigh unto impossible because it would require an amendment to the Constitution. That requires agreement from the provinces – or two-thirds of them, with at least half the country’s population.
That prospect is still a long way off, but this week it took one tentative step closer.
In Saskatchewan this week, Premier Brad Wall signalled his province’s intention to repeal legislation to elect Senate nominees – in itself one of the features often included in talk of reform.
Wall said instead the province is looking at a motion in the legislature calling for the upper chamber to be abolished. Wall added he’s come to believe reform of the Senate is impossible.
He joins a number of other prominent politicians who have made similar comments. Pierre Poilievre, federal minister responsible for democratic reform, said Thursday if the Supreme Court rejects the government’s aim to reform, outright abolition would be the next best step.
Recently, asked to comment on the senate scandal, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said he has always been an advocate of abolishing the senate.
Amendment complications aside, arguments against such a move usually focus on the voice for the less populous provinces provided in a guaranteed number of senators seats. But given Stephen Harper’s appointment of new members – with strings attached to serve his party’s agenda – it’s getting harder to hope for sober second thought that’s entirely objective. It’s more so approaching the “rubber stamp” label people often apply.
There are still some who argue the upper chamber has value and should be maintained, but considering the display of recent weeks, we can expect the voices for abolition to grow.