Domestic Policy Issue: The Senate of Canada

Domestic Policy Issue: The Senate of Canada

Good evening,

The issue that will be discussed today will be on the topic of the Senate of Canada. The question that will be explored is this: should the federal government elect or abolish the Senate?

While I do not have the time to fully discuss the Senate, what it does and how it works, I can at least give a bit of background required for a sufficient understanding of the matter. The Senate of Canada is part of the Parliament of Canada known as the Upper House, whereas the House of the commons is the Lower House. There are a total of 105 seats that senators from different regions in Canada can occupy; these regions are based on some arbitrary division and each province and territory have a specific number of senators. Also, the approval of both the House of Commons and the Senate is needed for legislation to be passed.

First, we need to look at how the Senate is divided based on province/ territory and region. There would definitely need to be some slight tweaking in this case but for the most part it seems to be fine. Each MP in the House of Commons is elected and represents roughly an even number of people per region in each province or territory. Therefore, the need to have this representation in the Senate is not necessarily required.

Next, the biggest concern is exactly who the Senators occupying these seats are and whether they are properly qualified to be a “sober second thought”. I believe that each Senator should be elected but no Senator can have a political affiliation to any party in Canada. They should be elected by the citizens in each region based upon their credentials and their own personal (unbiased) opinions; many, if not most, of the opinions of any one Senator would preferably not fit nicely into any one party’s own ideas. They should be required to state and elaborate on their position on a number of topics. Each Senator should also be required to have property or some sort of investment in that same region, forcing them to experience any social or economic hardships that their own voters experience as well.

Potential Senators would, of course, have to be investigated for any criminal activity or problematic history prior to choosing to run. At the present time, Senators may serve in the Senate until they reach the age of 75. I believe that for the Senate to keep up with the modern world, a Senator should hold a seat until they are 75 or after a full 30 years has passed, whichever comes first. This allows the Senate to avoid stagnation and properly allows Canada to pass legislation that would keep it at the front of the pack on the world stage with regard to social, economic and domestic issues.

One major problem, in my opinion, is that of vacancies in the Senate. A seat in the Senate should not be vacant for any more then 365 days after the previous Senator has been vacated. This allows each province to be fully represented and a proper discussion from the input of all 105 voices to keep the Senate fully functional.

Finally, corruption and partisanship should not be an issue in this type of elected Senate; neither should exist. There needs to be a strict watchdog over the Senate to investigate any and all issues concerning any Senator. They should have the power to remove Senators from their seats after a thorough investigation and this watchdog committee should be almost completely separate from the government allowing only the Governor General to have a presence. Senators need to be transparent and accountable so they maintain the respect and confidence of those who voted for them.

-IntellectForSale

Environmental Issue: Genetically Modified Organisms

Environmental Issue: Genetically Modified Organisms

Good evening,

The next issue I would like to discuss is one that many humans around the world automatically assume is a bad idea and they have images spawn in their heads about evil scientists in secret underground laboratories. The question we will look into is that should we use and ingest genetically modified foods.

Because of the effects of climate change, whether or not you believe it is caused by humans or if it is a natural occurrence is irrelevant here (and will be discussed at a later date), which is clearly happening to some extent, it is having a global effect on the agricultural industry. This is causing a shortage of food and in some areas certain crops become harder to grow because of a shortened growing season and therefore become more expensive to buy once it reaches your local supermarket.

Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are just the result of pulling the DNA from one organism and putting it into another one, changing its genotype. Specific genes are extracted based on the desired trait that humans want expressed in the new organism; humans want to facilitate a change in that organisms phenotype. In plants, this process allows the GMO to be more resistant to pests, diseases and different products of their environments; these are only a few examples. Soybeans, maize and canola are examples of common GMO’s found right here across Canada.

Research of genetically modified organisms shows that the upsides far outweigh the downsides. It shows that GMO’s are typically just as safe as “natural” or “organic” foods; while GMO is a name that gets a bad rap, the names natural and organic pinned to different foods seems to be mostly a marketing ploy designed to raise prices in supermarkets. There are typically no adverse side effects to consuming a GMO as compared to a natural food, and most humans would never realize a difference if given both at once.

Ignorance of the subject of genetically modified foods has lead to an unwarranted negative perception by the public who do not have all the information required to form an educated opinion. I believe that the government and the agricultural industry in general should do more to educate the public about what exactly a GMO is and why it is nothing for them to fear. There are no deadly chemicals injected into these crops and there isn’t a snake gene injected into a corn plant giving some poisonous mutant hybrid (as cool as that may be in the realm of science fiction).

In short, in the near future more and more crops will be genetically modified to produce higher crop yields due to acquired resistance to pests and various diseases. This will allow humans to produce more food in general, and at a lower cost, avoiding mass global food shortages, especially since the world population is increasing at a rapid rate. For genetically modified organisms, I believe that educating the general public is key.

-IntellectForSale

Foreign Policy Issue: United Nations

Foreign Policy Issue: United Nations

Good evening,

The next issue that will be discussed is one of foreign policy. Likely most Canadians, along with most people around the world, know in some form what the United Nations is. Most have some ideas and opinions about it and what it does; therefore, the question is should Canada maintain a presence within the United Nations and if so, how much?

The United Nations was created in 1945 and is an international organization that promotes cooperation between almost all countries of the world and was a replacement organization for the League of Nations. The U.N. was originally designed to prevent another conflict on the scale of World War II, but has gone on to invest time and resources into objectives such as humanitarian aid, social and economic development, as well as protecting human rights and the environment.

Canada has historically been known as a peacekeeping nation, giving millions of dollars to the U.N. per year to help those hit by natural disasters, famine, and other such events around the world. As a founding member of the United Nations, I believe it is important to most Canadians that, because of our wealth and our relative social and economic stability, we continue to help those who are not as fortunate as we are to be born in a country such as this. It is not the fault of a human to be born into a broken family or impoverished country; therefore we must do what we can to improve their standard of living and give them a better quality of life.

For the most part, I believe Canada should do what it can for international ventures with the U.N. without sacrificing its resources that could be used on a national level. Each country should first be sure that its own people are taken care of and then proceed to help others; a nation that is not stable in its own right cannot hope to help another become stable itself effectively. The United Nations itself should be run by those humans with a high level of integrity, free of corruption and without a self-serving agenda; the U.N. in general should only be in place for such a time as it remains effective.

-IntellectForSale

Electoral Issue: Electoral Reform

Electoral Issue: Electoral Reform

Good evening,

The next issue I would like to discuss is one that likely many Canadians are concerned about. When the Liberal government, along with leader Justin Trudeau, won a majority government in 2015, a major promise was that of electoral reform; a while later this promise was abandoned. Therefore the question is should there be a change in the way the Canadian voting system works?

The current Canadian electoral system is known as a ‘first past the post’ system. Each province is divided into provincial electoral districts, commonly known as ridings, and voters elect Members of Parliament (MP) to represent them. One candidate per party is allowed in each riding and the candidate does not need a majority of the votes to win; they simply need more votes than any other one candidate. There are also federal electoral districts which are generally the same as provincial, possibly with revised boundaries.

One of the major issues with this system is that it does not represent the population fairly or accurately. Since the candidate does not need a particular number of votes or over 50% of the votes to win, they do not represent the choice of most of the voters in that particular riding. This is a major problem since the official duty of the government is to represent the people and its interests; obviously this is not the best way of going about it.

In my opinion Canada should implement a voting system such that the elected humans best represent the people. If a particular party wins 37% of the vote in a particular provincial or federal election, then the party should have 37% of the seats allocated to them. This type of system is known as a Proportional Representation. I will not explain here exactly how it works nor the level of sophistication it requires to deal with particular problems that inevitably arise.

A voting system should be implemented close to that of the Single Transferable Vote (STV), a type of proportional representation. This would allow voters to rank all or some candidates according to their personal preferences. For the first round, all votes are tallied according to the voters first preference and if a particular number of votes is reached then that person is elected. More often than not the first preference will not meet the threshold; therefore, the candidate with the lowest number of votes received is eliminated.

Now, all those who voted for the eliminated candidate should have a second preference; these votes are redistributed among the remaining candidates. This cycle goes on until a threshold has been reached and a candidate has been elected. The elected candidate, for the most part, represents those living in the riding; even though this particular human may not be a first preference, enough voters liked them enough to place the candidate as a second or third preference.

Once all the ridings have an elected MP, say in a provincial election, the party with the higher number of elected officials gains control of the province. In federal elections, this translates to seats in the House of Commons for elected Members of Parliament, and the party occupying the most seats wins the election; the leader of that particular party is then elevated to Prime Minister of Canada. Ridings would likely need to have boundaries redrawn within each province to ensure that each has approximately the same number of people voting within it.

There are a few issues that would inevitably have to be smoothed out but the benefits would largely outweigh the costs; it would give a much better representation of how voters actually feel than the ‘first past the post’ system currently in place. This system could increase voter turnout since it matters a great deal more the way voters rank candidates and voters would have a greater sense of satisfaction knowing that their votes are bringing about real, high quality change.

-IntellectForSale