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February 1st, 2013

How not to reform the Senate

When he first campaigned to be Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper pledged he would reform the Canadian Senate.

I will not name appointed people to the Senate. Anyone who sits in the Parliament of Canada must be elected by the people they represent. -Stephen Harper, March 14, 2004

But seven years after taking power, the Conservatives’ Senate reform agenda remains stuck in neutral.

In fact, instead of reforming the Senate, Stephen Harper has stacked the place with failed candidates, party hacks, and party bagmen, just like the Prime Ministers before him. In fact, Mr. Harper has now appointed more Senators than even Brian Mulroney.

The current Senate only represents the interests of the Prime Minister, a fact we know Mr. Harper understands:

“But the real concern is, whether it's women or men or French or English or whatever, these people inevitably don't represent anybody but the prime minister who appoints them."
Stephen Harper, Montreal Gazette March 23, 1995.

And Prime Minister Harper goes on appointing Senators. Even after gaining his Senate majority – the unaccountable appointments just keep on rolling in.

The Minister of State for Democratic Reform even had the gall to try and blame the opposition for his delays:

“The NDP and the Liberals are opposed to Senate reform measures. They only have themselves to blame for stalling Senate reform.”
– Tim Uppal, House of Commons, January 28, 2013

But the facts simply don’t match the Minister’s bizarre claim; their bill, introduced almost two years ago hasn’t been called for debate in a year.

Even Prime Minister Harper called the Senate a relic of the 19th century.

It’s time Conservatives listened to Canadians, listened to the NDP and adopted the prudent and responsible policy of Senate abolition.

Getting rid of this archaic institution would save tax payers $90 million a year.