Saturday April 19, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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Ending partisanship in the Senate

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Dear editor,

Canadians want their leaders to come forward with practical solutions to our problems, and they have been clear that the Senate has become one of those problems. It is broken and needs to be fixed.

Through extreme patronage and partisanship, the Senate has become an institution that poorly serves the interests of Canadians. Canadians are especially disenchanted with the antiquated convention that sees senators appointed by one person: the prime minister.

The Senate is a public institution. It should not continue to be run like the prime minister’s private club.

The Liberal Party has taken immediate action to address these challenges. From now on, our national caucus will only include elected members of Parliament, not senators. All of our senators are now completely independent of the Liberal Party of Canada Caucus.

Furthermore, if I earn the privilege of serving Canadians as their prime minister, I will put in place an open, transparent and public process for appointing and confirming Senators. This process will be developed with experts and will be modelled after other non-partisan appointment processes, like Supreme Court justices and Order of Canada recipients.

These changes take effect right away, without opening up the constitution. They avoid a long, rancorous and likely pointless constitutional debate that would distract us from solving more important problems.

I am calling on the prime minister to do the right thing and match this action. As the majority party in the Senate, he could achieve immediate and comprehensive change right away if he decided to.

Taken together, these steps represent the most significant and concrete actions to reform the Senate in its history. These proposals are the next step to create real, positive change, but they will not be our last.

 

Justin Trudeau

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

 


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