Gen X at 40

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Hans -

Between "killing" the Senate and "reforming" the Senate, I would vote to kill it. In fact, the only way I would vote for reforming it would be that if the reform was specified to be elected and equal along provincial lines. But since it would be unlikely that the "reform" could be so specified, then killing it is probably the best option and then we could later have discussions about the need for re-instituting a Senate and what form it might take. In short, kill first, ask questions later. It is too abhorrent to democratic values to linger along with half-measures.

Ben (The Tiger) -

Would Senate reform/abolition throw the whole thing open? I doubt it.

On the other hand, republicanism is rising again. (More people are looking at Chuck, I think.)

But if the Senate has no real roles except to be a Liberal check on Conservative governments (compare today to 1993 to 1988/90) and otherwise to be a very expensive think-tank, well, one wonders...

As for my views: I rather liked Harper's incremental reforms. I'm enough of a small-c conservative to blanche at the thought of just junking the whole thing, but if the current Senate just wants to stonewall these other attempts.

If there were a vote, however, and it came back with a vote for the status quo, I would find it hilarious -- and oh-so-Canadian.

Alan -

I take it, then, you are equally offended by the political stacking of the US Supreme Court.

The only real problem that the conservatives in Canada have in relaiton to the Senate is that they never win government long enough to stack the Senate in their own image. The second best response is to make it biased, through undemocratic seat distribution, towards "conservative" regions. Neither reflects that Canada is simply not a conservative country - the wall of stone incremenatlists (like John Tory) run into as well. Our massive fiscal success (despite a degree of socialism) undermines that traditional conservative boogieman as well. That all being the case, no wonder they come up with such nutty ideas.

Ben (The Tiger) -

Alan, in 1937 I would have been. (See FDR and "court-packing", etc.) But that train's been so far out of the station, it's just part of the ground rules now.

But as to the other point -- in 1993, the Senate had a firm (Progressive) Conservative majority (56-30, I believe). They declined to act against Chretien's legislation because they thought it would be anti-democratic to do so. On the other hand, had Chretien tried to go against much of Mulroney's legacy, would they have acted? We'll never know.

How will Senate reform (or lack thereof) go? We'll see.

I'm actually not all that upset by the status quo. As a braking influence, it's not too terrible, and they do good committee work. At $60 million, it's cheaper than a lot of other government agencies and programmes I'd cut first. And as a way for a PM to get people out of the way, it's a very good institution to have. Patronage has a place sometimes, for some people. We'd probably have to invent something like it if we abolished it. (There's my small-c conservative coming out! ;-))

Alan -

Those are good points. Sort of a "Two Cheers for Democracy" point of view.

Alan -

And 1937 is modern history. You have to hit the 1860s and 70s for true Supreme Court stacking...and then get to, what, 1800? Them lads could stack.

Ben (The Tiger) -

Part of our long, illustrious history, then...

sean liddle -

Believe it or not folks "Gilligan's Hits" WITh the proper punctuation. w00t!

I say abolish the GG and reform the Senate but not in the way the Conservatives wish. Yes. Alan, You are correct, the big gripe in the eyes of teh conservatives and their supporters is that they are only ever elected in spurts and never kept in power long enough to stack it in their favour.. I say, reform in such a way as that all parties (major parties garnering a set percentage of votes nationally for a set period of time before hand) produce lists of their people or supporters or just citizens they would like to see as senators. As vacancies appear, the PM of the day appoints according to a rotating roster. that way, no matter who is in power, they can only set in place a firm supporter once every 3-4 vacancies. Eventually, the senate will be pretty darn broadly based and pretty darn moderate because Libs will only put in red tories and centrist NDPers and Conservatives will put in people like me, small C liberals.