Canada West Foundation argues merits of reformed Canadian Senate

CALGARY, AB, Mar. 10, 2010/ Troy Media/ – A reformed Senate, according to the Canada West Foundation, would create a healthier Canadian democracy.

Dr. Roger Gibbins
Dr. Roger Gibbins

“The Prime Minister has put Senate reform on the agenda, but Canadians need a clearer vision of why reform is necessary,” Robert Roach, co-author of A New Senate for a More Democratic Canada, said. “Canadians need to see that it is the health of our democracy that is at stake.”

The debate about Senate reform, he added, often slips into a discussion of technical details but rarely examines its ultimate goal: a healthier Canadian democracy.

Written by Canada West Foundation President and CEO Dr. Roger Gibbins and Roach, Director of the western Canadian think tank’s West in Canada Project, the paper outlines four reasons why the Senate should be reformed.

A reformed Senate could:

1) do a better job of representing the diversity of the Canadian people via a proportional representation voting system;

2) provide a much-needed check on the power of the Prime Minister;

 3) improve the fairness and quality of federal legislation; and

4) provide permanent and effective regional representation within the national Parliament.

“There is a lot of pessimism surrounding Senate reform,” Gibbins said. “The goal of this paper is to help initiate a broad public debate about the ultimate ends of Senate reform.”

Both authors, however, admit that achieving a reformed Senate will not be easy and that a reformed Senate will likely slow down rather than speed up the legislative process. The question Canadians need to be debating,” Gibbins said,” is whether the benefits of a reformed Senate are worth it.”

Channels: The Calgary Beacon, March 10, 2010

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