To the editor,
After a career of railing against the Senate, Prime Minister Stephen Harper now says that we’re “stuck with the status quo.” Canadians don’t have to settle for this defeatism – there is a practical plan left to fix our broken Senate.
Harper was reacting to a unanimous Supreme Court ruling that his proposed reforms would require constitutional amendments approved by at least seven provinces representing 50 per cent of the population. Abolishing it would require the unanimous consent of all 10 provinces.
Canadians don’t want to open up the Constitution for a long, rancorous debate with the provinces that would distract from solving their problems.
Yet the problem is worse today than when Harper started eight years ago. He has turned the Senate into a hyper-political, hyper-partisan chamber, which he personally stocked with the likes of Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau.
Fortunately there is a better way. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has a plan to remove partisanship and patronage from the Senate, and to restore the original purpose of the Fathers of Confederation: a chamber of sober, second thought.
Under a Trudeau government, all Senators would be appointed through an open, transparent and non-partisan appointment process. Senators would be selected on quality and good judgment, picking the best of the best from each province. Parties and partisanship would become a thing of the past. No constitutional battles required.
To get started, Trudeau removed all Senators from the Liberal caucus. In one morning, he achieved more Senate reform than Harper had in his entire career.
Real change to the status quo is within reach. We just need the leadership to get it done!
Scott Simms, MP
Liberal Party of Canada Critic for Democratic Reform