I think it is important in this discussion to have the relevant statutory instruments in the actual text so that members have in one place everything we are saying. If we are denied unanimous consent then I can read it. Here is the Charlottetown accord section on institutions:
A. The Senate
- An Elected Senate
The Constitution should be amended to provide that Senators are elected, either by the population of the provinces and territories of Canada or by the members of their provincial and territorial legislative assemblies.
Federal legislation should govern Senate elections, subject to the constitutional provision above and constitutional provisions requiring that elections take place at the same time as elections to the House of Commons and provisions respecting eligibility and mandate of Senators. Federal legislation would be sufficiently flexible to allow provinces and territories to provide for gender equality in the composition of the Senate.
Matters should be expedited in order that Senate elections be held as soon as possible, and, if feasible, at the same time as the next federal general election for the House of Commons.
- An Equal Senate
The Senate should initially total 62 Senators and should be composed of six Senators from each province and one Senator from each territory.
- Aboriginal Peoples' Representation in the Senate
Aboriginal representation in the Senate should be guaranteed in the Constitution. Aboriginal Senate seats should be additional to provincial and territorial seats, rather than drawn from any province or territory's allocation of Senate seats.
Aboriginal senators should have the same role and powers as other Senators, plus a possible double majority power in relation to certain matters materially affecting Aboriginal people. These issues and other details relating to Aboriginal representation in the Senate (numbers, distribution, method of selection) will be discussed further by governments and the representatives for aboriginal people in the early autumn of 1992.
- Relationship to the House of Commons
The Senate should not be a confidence chamber. In other words, the defeat of government-sponsored legislation by the Senate would not require the government's resignation.
- Categories of Legislation
There should be four categories of legislation:
1) Revenue and expenditure bills (“Supply Bills”);
2) Legislation materially affecting French language or French culture;
3) Bills involving fundamental tax policy changes directly related to natural resources;
4) Ordinary legislation (any bill not falling into one of the first three categories).
Initial classification of bills should be by the originator of the bill. With the exception of legislation affecting French language or French culture (see item 14), appeals should be determined by the Speaker of the House of Commons, following consultation with the Speaker of the Senate.
- Approval of Legislation
The Constitution should oblige the Senate to dispose of any bills approved by the House of Commons, within thirty sitting days of the House of Commons, with the exception of revenue and expenditure bills.
Revenue and expenditure bills would be subject to a 30 calendar-day suspensive veto. If a bill is defeated or amended by the Senate within this period, it could be repassed by a majority vote in the House of Commons on a resolution.
Bills that materially affect French language or French culture would require approval by a majority of Senators voting and a majority of the Francophone Senators voting. The House of Commons would not be able to override the defeat of a bill in this category by the Senate.
Bills that involve fundamental tax policy changes directly related to natural resources would be defeated if a majority of Senators voting cast their votes against the bill. The House of Commons would not be able to override the defeat of a bill in this category by the Senate.
Bills that involve fundamental tax policy changes directly related to natural resources would be defeated if a majority of Senators voting cast their votes against the bill. The House of Commons would not be able to override the Senate's veto. The precise definition of this category of legislation remains to be determined.
Defeat or amendment of ordinary legislation by the Senate would trigger a joint sitting process with the House of Commons. A simple majority vote at the joint sitting would determine the outcome of the bill.
The Senate should have the powers set out in this Consensus Report. There would be no change to the Senate's current role in approving constitutional amendments. Subject to the Consensus Report, Senate powers and procedures should mirror those in the House of Commons.
The Senate should continue to have the capacity to initiate bills, except for money bills.
If any bill initiated and passed by the Senate is amended or rejected by the House of Commons, a joint sitting process should be triggered automatically.
The House of Commons should be obliged to dispose of legislation approved by the Senate within a reasonable time limit.
- Revenue and Expenditure Bills
In order to preserve Canada's parliamentary traditions, the Senate should not be able to block the routine flow of legislation relating to taxation, borrowing and appropriation.
Revenue and expenditure bills (“supply bills”) should be defined as only those matters involving borrowing, the raising of revenue and appropriation as well as matters subordinate to these issues. This definition should exclude fundamental policy changes to the tax system (such as the Goods and Services Tax and the National Energy Program).
- Double Majority
The originator of a bill should be responsible for designating whether it materially affects French language or French culture. Each designation should be subject to appeal to the Speaker of the Senate under rules to be established by the Senate. These rules should be designed to provide adequate protection to Francophones.
On entering the Senate, Senators should be required to declare whether they are Francophones for the purpose of the double majority voting rule. Any process for challenging these declarations should be left to the rules of the Senate.
- Ratification of Appointments
The Constitution should specify that the Senate ratify the appointment of the Governor of the Bank of Canada.
The Constitution should also be amended to provide the Senate with a new power to ratify other key appointments made by the federal government.
The Senate should be obliged to deal with any proposed appointments within thirty sitting-days of the House of Commons.
The appointments that would be subject to Senate ratification, including the heads of the national cultural institutions and the heads of federal regulatory boards and agencies, should be set out in specific federal legislation rather than the Constitution. The federal government's commitment to table such legislation should be recorded in a political accord.
An appointment submitted for ratification would be rejected if a majority of Senators voting cast their votes against it.
- Eligibility for Cabinet
Senators should not be eligible for Cabinet posts.
We now have on the record section II(A) of the Charlottetown accord. It contains 10 clauses pertaining to the Senate of Canada. Four of these clauses were supported by Reformers, their content having been part of our party platform since 1987. They included: clause 8, which provided for equal numbers of senators per province; clause 10, which made clear that the Senate is not a confidence chamber and that the defeat of a bill in the Senate would not bring down the government; clause 15 giving the Senate power to ratify or reject federal appointments for regulatory boards and agencies like the Bank of Canada; and clause 16 providing that senators not be eligible for cabinet posts.
Reformers acknowledged these positive features of the Charlottetown agreement and were supportive of them. Unfortunately it is what is omitted from the Charlottetown Senate reform proposals which left the Senate both undemocratic and ineffective in safeguarding regional interests.
The Charlottetown agreement did not contain a clear statement of the purpose of a reformed Senate. That is where the trouble started. If it had been clearly stated that the purpose of a reformed Senate would be to balance representation by population in the House of Commons with democratic representation of provincial and regional interests in the Senate so that the laws reflect the interests of both the heavily populated and less populated areas, it would then have been much easier to define the power and the structure required to achieve that objective.
In the absence of a clear statement of purpose, the issue of what interests were to be represented in the Senate—regional interests, provincial interests, racial interests, linguistic interests, gender interests—became confused. The failure to state the intent of Parliament and the legislatures in reforming the Senate also surrendered to the courts jurisdiction in defining the Senate's future role.
In the absence of a clearly stated objective, no wonder the Senate reform proposals in the Charlottetown accord exhibited considerable confusion on exactly what interests the first ministers wanted to be represented in a reformed Senate.
According to clause 7, senators could be either elected by the population or elected by the legislatures. But election by the legislatures simply means appointment by the provincial governments, replacing federal patronage appointments to the Senate with provincial patronage appointments. Clause 7 also permitted a province to choose senators on the basis of gender.
Clause 9 provided for some Senate seats to be allocated to aboriginals on the basis of race.
Clause 14 permitted some Senate seats to be designated on the basis of language, francophone senators. Francophone and aboriginal senators were to have special voting powers not granted to all senators, thus compromising the principle of equality.
In addition, the Charlottetown agreement seemed to imply that elected senators would be elected at large for each province with no provision for senatorial districts. Under such a scheme all the elected senators from Ontario could presumably come from Toronto, the most heavily populated area, or all the elected senators from B.C. could conceivably come from the lower mainland, the most heavily populated area. This of course would frustrate the whole purpose of an upper chamber, that is to provide more effective representation for thinly populated areas.
All of the above provisions weakened rather than strengthened the ability of the Senate to provide straight, effective democratic representation of the thinly populated areas of Canada in Parliament.
It was however the clauses of the Charlottetown accord, clauses 11, 12 and 13 dealing with the proposed powers of a reformed Senate, where the deficiencies of its Senate reforms are most obvious.
Bills affecting the French language and culture could only be passed if they carried a double majority in the Senate envisioned by Charlottetown. This meant that such legislation must receive a majority of 50% plus one votes in the Senate plus a majority of the votes of the francophone senators.
If Quebec were to elect a separatist government, as it did in 1976 and again in 1994, which appointed separatist senators, as few as four of these senators could presumably kill any federal language, cultural or broadcasting legislation affecting all of Canada as long as it also affected French language and culture.
Bills changing the natural resource taxation could also be defeated by a majority of 50% plus one in the reformed Senate and the House of Commons could not override such a decision. But with respect to other taxation and spending measures, the Charlottetown proposals gave the Senate only a suspensive veto so that it could not exert consistent downward pressure on spending or taxation.
In the case of all legislation other than legislation materially affecting the French language and culture or natural resource taxation, defeat or amendment of the bill by the Senate under the Charlottetown proposals would lead to a joint sitting with the enlarged House of Commons where Ontario and Quebec would each have more seats than the entire Senate put together. In other words, on all legislation other than French language and cultural legislation and natural resource taxation legislation, the will of the Senate could have been overridden by the House of Commons. It was this general override provision which rendered the reformed Senate provided by Charlottetown largely ineffective.
I go through all of this to make the point that the Meech Lake- Charlottetown trail to Senate reform has proven to be a dead end. It is primarily instructive on how not to reform the Senate.
If we truly want to reform the Senate let us start with Senate reform proposals that have some currency and some support among the public, not those that come from the government or special interests through some top down process. If we truly want to reform the Senate, let us not put forward half-baked Senate proposals such as those contained in the Charlottetown accord which compromise rather than achieve the real objectives of accountability, equality and effectiveness.
The Prime Minister never tires of responding to questions about the Senate from Reformers in this House by saying “but you voted against the Senate reforms in Charlottetown”. We can see what a shallow and misleading retort that is. The Prime Minister studiously avoids the issue of why Reformers and a majority of Canadians voted against Charlottetown and why Reformers opposed rather than supported the Charlottetown Senate reform proposals.
Canadians in general and Reformers in particular will support Senate reform proposals that provide effective and accountable regional representation and balance in national decision making. Did the Senate reform proposals in Charlottetown provide this? The short answer is no.
Charlottetown offered a partially reformed Senate, another one of these compromises of the compromises in which all provinces would have equal numbers of senators. It would have been a Senate only partially elected. It would have been ineffective because on all matters other than French language, culture and perhaps natural resource taxation, on all other matters of regional or national interest, it could have been overridden by an enlarged House of Commons.
Charlottetown offered a one and a half E Senate, equal, only partially elected, and ineffective, as compared with the triple E Senate, equal, fully elected and truly effective, which is desired by Reformers. That is why we and the majority of Canadians rejected the Charlottetown approach to Senate reform and why I now want to draw the attention of the House to an alternative approach, the approach I have labelled the western trail to Senate reform.
My own experience and acquaintance with the western trail to Senate reform includes the experience of my father Ernest C. Manning who was premier of Alberta from 1943 to 1968 and who sat as an Alberta senator from 1970 to 1983 after his retirement from provincial politics. There is an old saying that to get into the American or the Australian Senate you have to win an election but to get into the Canadian Senate you have to lose an election or preferably two or three. This was not the case for my father who spent 33 years as an elected member of the Alberta legislature and who never lost an election. He won nine general elections in a row.
Until recent years it was also axiomatic that to be appointed to the Senate you had to be a member of either the Liberal or Conservative parties. In my father's case not only was he not a member or supporter of either of those parties, he spent 33 years fighting Liberals and Conservatives at both the provincial and the federal level. During his last 10 years as premier of Alberta my father had increasingly addressed himself to the need for stronger western representation in all national institutions. The west he believed was coming of age in Confederation and needed and deserved more effective representation on the boards of national companies and organizations and in all federal institutions.
After his retirement from the Alberta legislature he was surprised one day to get a call from Prime Minister Trudeau offering to appoint him to the Senate. According to Trudeau he too wanted to strengthen regional representation in the upper house and he was prepared to reach outside Liberal ranks to do so.
My father thought it only fair to advise Mr. Trudeau that if he accepted the Senate appointment he would use it to criticize and attack those policies of the Trudeau government with which he disagreed. In fact, my father was quite candid in saying that in all his dealings with federal administrations, the King administration, the St. Laurent administration, the Pearson administration and the Diefenbaker administration, he felt the fiscal and constitutional policies of the Trudeau Liberals were the worst that he had every encountered.
However, Mr. Trudeau in typical fashion was unfazed and replied to the effect that perhaps it would be better for such sentiments to be expressed within the dignity of the red chamber rather than on the street. So my father went to the Senate with the idea of strengthening western representation and exploring the potential for increasing the Senate's accountability and effectiveness.
When my father arrived he was one of just two independent senators. He sat with no party caucus and took no direction from any whip or party leader. Over the years particularly as a member of the Senate's banking and finance committee he primarily focused on the review of legislation, particularly the scrutiny of federal fiscal and economic policy from both a western and a national perspective.
In particular he was in the Senate at the time the federal government imposed its infamous national energy policy. He was a witness to the utter impotence of the upper chamber, the chamber of sober second thought, the chamber that Sir John A. swore would protect local interests and prevent sectional jealousies. He was witness to the utter impotence of the Canadian Senate to even challenge the regional discrimination of the national energy program let alone mitigate or correct it.
The national energy program was the most regionally discriminatory policy ever imposed on any region of the country by any federal administration. Certainly this was so if regional discrimination was measured in terms of dollars and cents because this particular policy confiscated over $100 billion of wealth from western Canada, $40 billion from the imposition of revenue taxes and another $60 billion from compelling western oil and gas to be sold at less than market values.
If the Canadian Senate had any power at all to either represent regional interests effectively or to play a role in balancing the interests of thinly populated resource producing areas against those of the heavily populated areas, that power should have been exercised in modifying the national energy program. If the Senate could have been effective in modifying the terms of the NEP or the Petroleum Administration Act by even 1%, that would have saved western Canada about $1 billion.
If the Senate could have doubled its strength and been able to effect that policy by 2%, if it could have just slightly modified the terms of the Petroleum Administration Act by 2%, that would have saved western Canada $2 billion. But the Senate was utterly impotent to make any changes and any balancing in that national energy policy.
Of course the Senate was completely ineffective in playing that role just as it has proven ineffective in representing the regional interests of Atlantic Canada with respect to the destruction of the east coast fishery and the interests of Quebec in preserving its language and culture, the interests of rural and northern Ontario and Quebec in promoting economic development outside the golden triangle, the interests of the prairies in agricultural reform and in reversing the discriminatory CF-118 decision, the interests of the north in northern economic development, and the interests of B.C. in getting the west coast fisheries, B.C. aboriginal policy and infrastructure on the national stage.
When it comes to effectiveness and accountability in representing regional interests, the primary function the upper house in a big federation with an unevenly distributed population must perform, the Canadian Senate has proven woefully inadequate.
Over the years my father endeavoured to persuade other senators to sit as independents rather than as party representatives and to strengthen and use their regional voices.
By the time he left there were five so-called independent senators but their numbers were never enough to affect the outcomes of votes or to provide a strong impetus for reform within the Senate.
In 1981 my father therefore joined with Gordon Gibson, a former executive assistant to Trudeau and prominent west coast journalist and author, and Dr. Peter McCormick, a keen analyst of federal politics and institutions from the University of Lethbridge, under the auspices of the Canada West Foundation, to produce a definitive study on the reform of the Senate.
Their study was entitled “Representation: The Canadian Partnership”. It argued that reforming the Senate of Canada to make it elected with equal representation from each province and effective powers to advance and protect regional interests would go a long way toward addressing the need for regional fairness and balance in national decision making.
Time does not permit me to tell the full story of the evolution of this concept but the major milestones along the western trail to Senate reform include the following.
In the mid-1970s Premier Lougheed's citizens advisory committee on the Constitution came to similar conclusions on the need for meaningful Senate reform. This was the mid-1970s, over 20 years ago.
Ted Byfield coined and popularized the shorthand phrase triple E Senate referring to elected, equal and effective through the Alberta report and newspaper columns. Jim Grey and Bert Brown created and advanced the work of the Canadian committee for a triple E Senate.
The Alberta government's special select committee on Senate reform pushed for inclusion of the triple E Senate concept in the Meech Lake negotiations.
Don Getty, who succeeded Lougheed as premier of Alberta, appointed a Senate reform task force to meet with all other premiers and provincial governments to promote the triple E in 1988.
It was Getty, with urging from Bert Brown and Dr. David Elton of the Canada West Foundation, who secured the passage of the Alberta senatorial selection act by the Alberta legislature in 1989.
On the initiative of Premier Klein, and to his credit, the Alberta senatorial selection act is in the process of being updated by the Alberta legislature this month. This statute ought to be studied by every member of this House. Perhaps it is not perfect. Perhaps it can be improved but it is a mechanism for at least democratizing the Senate without having to amend the Constitution.
I have sent a copy of this act to the premiers of every province and territory, along with a list of upcoming Senate vacancies in their jurisdictions, and a plea that they enact similar legislation to at least begin the process of democratizing the Senate.
Copies of this legislation will be readily supplied to anyone interested in it by the Alberta government, by my office or by the office of the honourable member for Nanaimo—Alberni, the chief opposition critic for Senate reform.
While the Alberta legislature was focusing on drafting the senatorial selection act to at least begin the democratization of the Senate, in 1988 the fledgling Reform Party of Canada began an even more ambitious project.
We undertook to draft a full blown triple E Senate constitutional amendment, to submit it to public scrutiny at hearings across the west and to present it to the western premiers meeting in Parksville in 1988.
All this was accomplished. For those who are serious about this business of Senate reform and who are not just content with superficial retorts and analysis, for those who want to look at a draft constitutional amendment to make the Senate of Canada elected, equal and effective, the kind of amendment that should have been at Meech but was not, the kind of amendment that should have been at Charlottetown but was not, the kind of amendment that should be on the government's constitutional agenda and is not, I commend to the House this constitutional amendment.
Again, I seek the consent of the House to dispense with actually reading this amendment and have it recorded in Hansard as read.