What follows is the sole responsibility of the author. The opinion(s) do not represent, implicitly or explicitly, the positions, policies, or opinions of Slaw or any other institution that I am in any way remotely attached to…. heck I don’t know if the opinions herein reflect that of anybody else period; however, deep breath…. I, Mark Lewis am a supporter of the Canadian Senate… there I said it!
I am not a supporter of feeding at the pork barrel but I am unwilling to throw the baby out with the bath water. The Canadian Senate was designed to serve a useful pupose in our legislative system that of “sober second thought” (bonus points for naming the originator of that ironic quote without looking it up); an essentially non-partisan body composed of experienced legislators and public minded folk who have the ability to take a (more or less) neutral view of legislation and propose refinements that would help make the proposed legislation function more smoothly (coulda used some o’that with the ol’ internet surveillance bill to name but one recent example) and that has regrettably changed. Do our legislators in the lower house exhibit a need for an experienced second opinion? I think that would be hard to deny, so we have the institution to that and yet popular rhetoric is aimed at getting rid of that institution. Have individual Senators and the political parties treatment of the Senate brought this about? That is undeniable but perhaps instead of calling on those parties to get rid of the institution perhaps we should be calling upon them to clean up their act in their treatment of the institution.
My concern is that the blather that is produced fails to acknowledge the purpose of the institution, I won’t go into any more detail on that when I can link to an effective short story link to an article which does the job for me. The key thing from that article that I want to recite is that the Senate is “intended to provide checks and balances to Canada’s parliamentary system.”
In summary, I will quote Sir John A. Macdonald:“It must be an independent House, having a free action of its own, for it is only valuable as being a regulating body, calmly considering the legislation initiated by the popular branch, and preventing any hasty or ill considered legislation which may come from that body, but it will never set itself in opposition against the deliberate and understood wishes of the people.”