“I’m here to rain on the parade … the constitutional/legal minefield to achieving any sort of substantial Senate reform is impressive.”
-Dr. Rainer Knopff, University of Calgary
THE CURRENT EXPENSE SCANDAL IS AN ABERRATION IN THE SENATE’S OTHERWISE EXEMPLARY 146-YEAR RECORD OF SERVICE. Canada’s upper chamber may not be perfect, but it’s still a valuable institution, providing “sober second thought” to legislation on its way to becoming law. To seriously reform the Senate would require opening the Constitution, an undertaking that could, judging from past experiences, pit the provinces against each other with varying demands. To simply do away with the body would leave Canada, one of the world’s oldest federal systems, without a body to represent regional interests at the national level.
- Allows the Senate to carry on with its current work without undue interruption
- Ensures calls for reform don’t snowball into a campaign to abolish the institution altogether
- Avoids the divisive debate and demands that would surely follow if the Constitution were opened up to seriously reform the Senate
- An unreformed Senate will likely never regain Canadians’ confidence and trust
- Would leave Canada with an unelected upper chamber, the only other OECD country other than the United Kingdom to hold this dubious distinction
- It’s the status quo!
WATCH DR. KNOPFF EXPLAIN THE CONSTITUTIONAL OBSTACLES TO REFORM: