Thursday, October 24, 2013

No Senate Reformation Without Provincial Consent

The Quebec Court of Appeal has rejected the Harper government's claim that the federal government can rejig the Senate without the approval of the provinces.

That this was a truly boneheaded notion ought to have been apparent from the realization that what Harper was seeking would allow any future majority government of any stripe to itself remake the Senate to its own liking or even in its own image and the provinces would have to simply put up with it.

"The transcript of the pre-Confederation conferences shows that the founding fathers discussed the role and composition of the Senate at length," the 20-page ruling said.

"There is no doubt that this institution was a fundamental component of the federal compromise in 1867."

The court even refers to Canada's first prime minister, John A. Macdonald, being dead-set against the idea of elected senators to avoid having the new parliament resemble the Legislative Council of the old parliament of pre-Confederation Canada.

Now if the Harper government wants to reform the Senate, the court says, it needs to get approval from at least seven provinces holding half the country's population.

Only a government obsessed with its own powers and completely indifferent to our country's constitutional foundation would have tried this on.

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