Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Venting of Hot Air

I see the Con$ are busy trying to play to Jack Layton's tune on abolishing the Senate.

I would suggest strongly that Mssrs Layton and Harper review this section of the Constitution before they go off on their next little tirade about senate reform or abolition thereof.

In particular, I would draw their attention to the following sections:

38 (1):
(1) An amendment to the Constitution of Canada may be made by proclamation issued by the Governor General under the Great Seal of Canada where so authorized by

(a) resolutions of the Senate and House of Commons; and
(b) resolutions of the legislative assemblies of at least two-thirds of the provinces that have, in the aggregate, according to the then latest general census, at least fifty per cent of the population of all the provinces.



and

42 (1):
(1) An amendment to the Constitution of Canada in relation to the following matters may be made only in accordance with subsection 38(1):

(a) the principle of proportionate representation of the provinces in the House of Commons prescribed by the Constitution of Canada;
(b) the powers of the Senate and the method of selecting Senators;
(c) the number of members by which a province is entitled to be represented in the Senate and the residence qualifications of Senators;
(d) subject to paragraph 41(d), the Supreme Court of Canada;
(e) the extension of existing provinces into the territories; and
(f) notwithstanding any other law or practice, the establishment of new provinces.


If you thought the arguments over Meech Lake or Charlottetown were nasty, I suspect it would be nothing compared to the debates that would rage over restructuring parliament.

Harper, and Layton, dream of making their mark in history - I would suggest that they both start by knocking off the rhetoric and taking the time to start understanding this nation's Constitution. Even if they were to make a motion to abolish the Senate, that is only one step in a long process - which, I suspect, only a handful of provincial legislatures would agree to readily.

I'm not saying that changing the senate is necessarily a bad thing, but it has to be crafted carefully, and with a great deal of deliberation. Simple abolition would place Canada in the unique place of being the only large democracy without an upper house that can act in counterpoint to the often fractious House of Commons. That would not be good for Canada in the long run.

3 comments:

dragon said...

1. There are RULES?

2. They apply to HIM?

3. "AND" does not mean "OR", nor does it insert a "Neither/Nor" clause around the statement in the constitution that he sees as offensive to his mark on history.

4. We call it "grandstanding"

Justine said...

The Globe and Mail occasionally reminds its readers that the composition and duties of the Senate are part of the Constitution Act. I'm thinking of writing to them to ask them to do an educational piece for those who don't yet understand just what's involved here.

Does that include Stephen Harper and Jack Layton? Can't possibly, can it? I mean, they must know what's in the Constitution Act, mustn't they?

"EEE Senate" might be a cure for insomnia, but it might be good to review what each E stands for. So far, the PM and commentators seem to be stuck on "elected." In an opinion piece a few days ago, David Bercuson barely touched on "equal." Yet that E is probably far more important than "elected." As the Globe has pointed out, electing people to a senate as unequal as the current one just gives legitimacy to the inequality.

Harper must know by now that there is no such thing as an end run around the Constitution, no matter how many people vote for Senate abolition. "All politics, all the time" is grossly irresponsible.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Grandstanding is probably the best description for it, I also think it's just another smoke screen hiding a potential booby trap for the Liberals. If Dion comes out against it he may set himself up as the 'status quo' supporter, which the Con$ would play as 'anti-west' and anti democratic. If he supports it in any way it'll show him as unimaginative.

More likely the Cons are trying to hide something else, and while we look at their latest dog and pony show they'll sneak something else under the table and catch everyone sleeping

Yes, we the populace need a good, long lesson on the ways and purpose of our constitution. I'm betting that the majority of Canadians don't even know what the name of it is. And after our education maybe then we can go about dealing with Senate reform.

E.