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Saturday, 16 February 2013

How to Reform the Senate

Sketch: D. GrayAfter a few Canadian Senators got into some trouble in recent weeks, the word on the street is Senate Reform, or even abolishing the red chamber altogether.

We think that would be a bit hasty. Why don't we come up with something practical to reform the Senate, and make it a place that inspires respect instead of ridicule? And get some of that sober reflection we we promised?

Everyone's got their sketch on the back of a cocktail napkin, so here's our blue-sky thinking:
  • Keep the Senate more or less how it is now, except:
  • A list of potential Senators would be nominated by premiers
  • The nominees would have to be members of the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, or a similarly merit-based provincial order. 
  • The nominees would then would be given "Yes/No" votes at the next Federal General election, within the areas they are supposed to represent.
  • Campaign activities, particularly spending and fund-raising, would be banned.
  • Voters would be mailed a booklet with 1-page statements by the nominees. Statements deemed fluff by an all-party committee, such as patriotic formulations, happiness to be considered, looking forward to representing you and other senators, etc., Canada is the greatest country in the world, etc., would be redacted.
  • The nominees with the highest Yes / No ratio would become Senators.
  • Senators would serve for 20 years.
  • Temporary vacancies could be filled with nominees named by premiers, with the same requirements for Senators.  
  • Optional: Caucuses could be formed within the Senate, but could not be based on parties recognized by Elections Canada. 

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