Constitution Act, 2016 (Property qualifications of Senators)

An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Property qualifications of Senators)

Status

Second reading (Senate), as of May 2, 2017

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Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

The enactment amends the Constitution Act, 1867 to eliminate the requirement that Senators have a personal net worth of at least four thousand dollars and to eliminate the real property requirement for Senators representing a province other than Quebec.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

October 17th, 2016 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Nater Conservative Perth—Wellington, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair; and thank you again to our panellists for the excellent insights today. It has been fascinating.

I'm going to start a little off topic and then try to work my way back, and hopefully I'll get back to the issue at hand.

Senator Patterson, for example, currently has a bill before the Senate, BillS-221. It deals with Senate representation. It would remove the property requirement to be appointed a senator. It's not going to change the overall makeup of the Senate. It's not going to change how senators are appointed. It's not going to change how senators are elected. However, it is a move that I think would be a small step towards recognizing some of the unique challenges of the north.

Property ownership, as we know, is not as common in the north as it is in the southern part of Canada, so it's an important change to the Senate that does not undertake a substantial change that would necessarily take a long period of time in consultation.

In the panel prior to this one, there were some suggestions that campaigning in Nunavut and in the north is a challenge. It's costly; it's time consuming. There was a suggestion that there should be some kind of subsidy, some kind of financial benefit to help in campaigning, in representing some northern areas. Again, it's a change that would certainly support the north, would help in the north, but it wouldn't necessarily change the overall structure of our electoral system in Canada.

That leads into the comments we've heard from this panel and previous panels that this electoral reform change shouldn't be rushed. We should take our time. We don't want to rush into something without fully exploring all the options.

Where I'm going with this is that in an effort not to rush into wholesale fundamental change but still keep the discussion going, are there recommendations that each of you would have to help the north be better represented in Ottawa, better able to undertake that representation, that wouldn't necessarily change the fundamental makeup of our electoral system? Are there changes you would recommend in the short term that we could implement fairly quickly that would improve engagement of Nunavut and of the northern territories? Do you have any thoughts on any short-term changes we could make quickly?