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.