I am reading into the record the proposed constitutional amendment of May 17, 1988. I will pick up on section 21.
The Upper House, styled the Senate, constituted by Section 17 of this Act, shall be comprised of 108 members called Senators who shall be drawn from throughout Canada and elected in accordance with the provisions of Sections 22 and 23.
(1) Each of the Provinces of Canada is at all times entitled to be represented in the Senate by 10 Senators and the Yukon and Northwest Territories are each entitled to be represented by 4 Senators.
(2) Any province which may be created, pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, after this section comes into force, shall on and after its creation be entitled to be represented in the Senate by 10 Senators.
- (1) Senators shall be chosen by the people of each Province and Territory through popular elections held throughout Canada in accordance with the provisions of this section.
(2) Except as otherwise provided in sub-section 5, Senators shall be elected for a term of 6 years and Senators shall be eligible for re-election.
(3) Senate elections shall be held throughout Canada on the last Monday of October every three years.
(4) The first election, hereinafter referred to as “the initial election”, will be held on the last Monday of October not less than one year nor more than two years after this provision comes into force.
(5) One half of the Senators elected from each Province and Territory at the initial election shall be elected for a term of 3 years and the balance of the Senators elected at the initial election shall be elected for a term of 6 years.
(6) The Legislature of a province or territory shall divide the Province or Territory into senatorial electoral districts, having special regard to geographical considerations, and determine the number of Senators to be chosen from each district.
(7) The election of Senators shall be based on the single transferable ballot method of election.
(8) The Legislature of a Province or Territory shall make laws in relation to procedures for the election of Senators within that Province or Territory, the financing of elections, the funding of election campaigns, and the nomination of candidates.
(9) The Parliament of Canada may, except as is otherwise provided in sub-section (8) of this Part, make laws in relation to procedures for the election of Senators.
- Any person is eligible to be elected as a Senator for a Province or Territory if that person:
(a) is a Canadian citizen;
(b) is of the full age of 18 years at the date of the election;
(c) has been ordinarily resident within that Province or Territory for an aggregate period of at least five years during the ten years immediately preceding the election and is resident within that Province or Territory at the date of the election; and
(d) has not been a member of the House of Commons or a Legislative Assembly for a period of one year prior to the date of the election.
A Senator shall not be a member of the Governor General in Council, or a director, officer, or member of a federal crown corporation, board, commission, agency or tribunal.
(1) If a vacancy occurs in the Senate, not more than two years from the date of the election, then such vacancy shall be filled through a by-election.
(2) The term of a Senator elected at a by-election shall be for the unexpired term of the Senator whose seat was vacated.
The Senate is empowered to establish its own procedures for the election of the Speaker of the Senate and for the conduct of its business.
(1) Bills proposed to Parliament, other than Bills for appropriating any part of the public revenue or for imposing any tax or impost, may originate in the Senate equally as in the House of Commons.
(2) A bill shall not be taken to appropriate revenue, or to impose taxation, by reason only of its containing provisions for the imposition or appropriation of fines or other pecuniary penalties, or for the demand of payment or appropriation of fees for licences or services.
A Bill certified by the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the Senate as being a Bill to appropriate money solely for the ordinary annual essential services of the government shall be presented to but need not be passed by the Senate.
A defeat of a government sponsored Bill, motion, or resolution in the Senate shall not constitute a vote of non-confidence in the government so as to require the government's resignation.
(1) Where any Bill that has been passed by the House of Commons and presented to the Senate
(a) has been refused passage by the Senate, or
(b) has not been finally dealt with by the Senate and not less than 60 days have elapsed since the Bill was presented to the Senate of which at least 45 days were days in which Parliament was sitting, or
(c) has been amended by the Senate and the House of Commons has duly advised the Senate that it does not concur in all or some of the amendments made by the Senate,
the Bill, in the form in which it was presented to the Senate but with such amendments made by the Senate as may be concurred in by the House of Commons in the case of a Bill to which clause (c) applies, may be referred by the Speaker of either House to the Reconciliation Committee for the purpose of seeking to reconcile the differences and seek a mutually acceptable compromise.
(2) A joint standing committee known as the Reconciliation Committee which shall be composed of ten Senators and ten members of the House of Commons is hereby established for the purpose of this Section.
(3) The Senate and the House of Commons shall elect from among its members persons to be appointed to the Reconciliation Committee established pursuant to this section.
(4) This section shall apply equally, with the necessary changes, to Bills that have been first passed by the Senate.
- (1) No appointment of a person
(a) to be a Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada;
(b) to be an officer, director, or member of any federal Crown Corporation, Board, Commission, Agency, or Tribunal, having a regional impact, including those set forth in the Appendix
shall have effect until such time as the appointment of that person has been affirmed by the Senate.
(2) If no action is taken by the Senate after 30 sitting days of a nomination being referred to it, then the appointment shall be deemed to have been affirmed by the Senate.
(3) The Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the Senate together shall determine those federal Crown Corporations, Boards, Commissions, Agencies, and Tribunals which, in addition to those in the Appendix, have a regional impact.
- The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution Act, 1867, is repealed and the following substituted therefor:
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE
This is a revised oath of allegiance for the Senate:
I,—, do swear, That I will faithfully represent the people of the electoral district of—who have elected me to represent them in the Senate of Canada [or as the case may be], and be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
Then follows a declaration of qualification, modified in accordance with section 24, and an appendix which reads:
Select Crown Corporations, Boards, Commissions, Agencies, or Tribunals, for example:
Bank of Canada
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Canadian International Development Agency
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission
Canadian Transport Commission
Canadian Wheat Board
Export Development Corporation
Federal Business Development Bank
National Energy Board
National Harbours Commission
National Parole Board
St. Lawrence Seaway Authority
We have therefore read into the record this 1988 constitutional amendment to reform the Senate of Canada along the lines of a triple E Senate.
I want to point out to members that this amendment provided for a 108 member elected Senate: 10 members per province and 4 per territory.
In the hearings that accompanied this amendment's development we also found considerable support for six to eight senators per province, a smaller Senate, and one per territory, with considerable debate over whether equality per province or equality per region was preferable.
This amendment also provided for half the senators to be elected every three years to six year terms by a single transferable ballot method of election.
The Reform amendment provided further for the division of each province and territory into senatorial districts in order to ensure genuine regional representation and to ensure that the upper house was not a mirror image of the lower house.
The 1988 triple E amendment required that a senator should not be able to hold office in the cabinet or accept other federal appointments in order to secure greater independence of the Senate from the House and from the Office of the Prime Minister.
The amendment also provided for free votes in the Senate so that it would not become a House of the parties, which has become one of the big problems with the Australian Upper House, and stipulated that a defeat of a government sponsored bill, motion or resolution in the Senate would not constitute a vote of non-confidence in the government so as to require the government to resign.
This amendment provided for the Senate to be coequal with the House in terms of powers, which of course is theoretically the case at the present time. It provided for a reconciliation committee based on the West German model to resolve deadlocks.
In the view of western Reformers, if the Senate deadlocked over a bill like the Petroleum Administration Act, which was the centrepiece of the national energy program, and could find no way to reconcile the conflicting interests, it would be better for Canada if the legislation was not passed than to have discriminatory legislation passed.
Finally, the 1988 triple E constitutional amendment required that appointments to the Supreme Court of Canada and to crown corporations, boards, commissions, agencies and tribunals having regional impacts and listed in an appendix be affirmed by the reformed Senate.
To pick up our story of the trail of Senate reform in the west, fortified by the Senate reform initiatives of the Alberta legislature, the Senate reform initiatives of the Reform Party, the work of the Canadian committee for a triple E Senate and the research of the Canada West Foundation, Alberta moved toward the next big milestone on the western trail to Senate reform.
This was the Alberta Senate election of 1989 in which over 600,000 Albertans were persuaded to participate. If anyone thinks it is an easy task to persuade 600,000 people to do something they have not done before, they ought to participate in that exercise. In that election Reformer Stan Waters received over 257,000 votes to become Canada's first democratically selected Senate nominee.
I would like to point out that is the largest number of votes that any member of this Parliament ever received. Of course it was large because his constituency was province wide. However, 257,000 people said that that individual should sit in the Parliament of Canada. Eight months later in June 1990 a reluctant Brian Mulroney was finally persuaded to actually accept the results of this democratic election and appoint Stan Waters to the Senate of Canada.
All of this history, all of these milestones on the western trail to Senate reform are detailed in chapter 11 of my 1992 book The New Canada . I record them here to make one simple, important point which is that most of the background work required to reform the Senate in the direction of greater accountability, equality and effectiveness has already been done.
I would argue that as much work has been put into this effort in western Canada over the last 20 years as has been put into defining Quebec's constitutional demands over the same period. However this effort has not received one-tenth of the attention of Quebec's constitutional demands. Why? Because it has not been accompanied by the threat of secession. It is now time that such attention was paid.
The immediate future presents new opportunities to pick up the western trail of Senate reform and move toward the objective of providing an accountable and effective Chamber in the national parliament to ensure regional representation and input into national decision making and legislation.
Let me first describe the opportunity and then issue a challenge, a challenge to the present senators, a challenge to the Prime Minister and the federal government and a challenge to this House, a challenge to act on the present opportunities.
The province of Alberta under the leadership of Premier Klein is in the process of reactivating its senatorial selection act. It is proposing to proceed with the conduct of a senatorial election this fall in conjunction with the Alberta municipal elections. It is proposing to elect two senators in waiting and as soon as there is an Alberta vacancy in the Senate, to then request the Prime Minister to appoint a democratically selected senator to fill the vacancy.
In proceeding along these lines, the premier and the legislature of Alberta are completely in tune with public opinion on this subject in that province. In late February of this year, an Environics West poll reported that 91% of Albertans surveyed said they wanted Alberta's next senator to be elected by all Albertans, compared to only 7% who favoured appointment by the Prime Minister and 2% who said they did not know. In proceeding along these lines, Albertans are rejecting the arguments by the intergovernmental affairs minister that an elected and equal Senate will not serve western interests.
The intergovernmental affairs minister argued three months ago that a Senate in which the Atlantic provinces held 40% of the seats, which would be the case under equal representation by province, or even 20% of the seats, which would be the case under equal representation per region, could easily outvote and frustrate representatives of Alberta's interests in a Senate in which Alberta's representation would at best amount to 10% of the seats. The minister said:
Today (that imbalance) is not important because the (appointed) Senate is not very influential. But the day they are elected, they want to be influential and then the under-representation of Alberta will be a problem. (Reformers) have to explain to Albertans why it would be good that eight per cent of Canadians (in the Atlantic provinces) would have 40 per cent of the seats.
I am sure members can see the flaw in that line of reasoning. One would wonder how this can happen after all the discussions on this subject. The minister's statement completely confuses representation by province with representation by population. We are not trying to get equality of representation by population in the Senate. We want that in this House. We are trying to get equality of representation by areas of province in the upper house and that has been the whole intent.
I should say that Albertans are also insulted by the insinuation that they have not thought this thing through or that they do not understand their own interests. Albertans do not share the intergovernmental affairs minister's negative opinion of Atlantic Canadian regional interest. Albertans do not see Atlantic Canada as forever dependent on or beholden to the federal government.
Albertans see in Atlantic Canada a region that suffers regional alienation from Ottawa and central Canada as much or more than western Canada. Albertans see for example the interests of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia in the development and expansion of the east coast oil and gas industry. Albertans see in that not an opponent but a potential ally of the western provinces in protecting and advancing provincial control of natural resources. Albertans will take their chances in favour of stronger, not weaker, regional representation for Atlantic Canada in a reformed Senate.
In proceeding with the election of two standby senators Albertans are also rejecting the argument that step by step election of senators is inadvisable and that democratization of the Senate should be deferred until there is general support for electing all senators.
Albertans believe that a start, a first step however small down the road to a democratic Senate is better than no start at all. Every journey, as the proverb says, begins with a single step and the election of one senator, then two senators, then three will hopefully end in the election of all senators.
This of course is what happened in the United States where at one time senators were appointed by the state legislatures. Then the state of Oregon began to elect senators directly in 1907. For a short time the U.S. Senate contained a mixture of democratically elected senators and the others. The American public soon showed a distinct preference for directly electing their senators rather than having them appointed. In 1913 the U.S. Constitution was amended to provide for a fully democratically elected Senate.
This is why I wrote to each of the provincial premiers in February of this year outlining the Senate vacancies that will occur in their respective provinces in the near future. I urged each province to put in place its own senatorial selection act. If the federal government continues to drag its feet on democratization of the Senate as it drags its feet on every other proposed reform of federal institutions, then the provinces should take the initiative.
In proceeding with an Alberta Senate election this fall, Alberta is also dismissing as lamentable, even laughable, the Prime Minister's lame argument that the election of senators accountable to the people will prevent any further reforms to the Senate, in particular the achievement of equality.
The Senate has been inhabited exclusively for the past 131 years by appointed senators who have resisted every major proposal for reform. We can hardly do any worse. They have resisted proposals for greater effectiveness, greater accountability and greater equality. We can hardly have a more reform resistant Senate than the appointed one, particularly when that is combined with a Prime Minister who, while professing a commitment to Senate reform, invariably finds excuses for not proceeding.
Election is not wise because it will prevent equality says the Prime Minister. Equality will be difficult because Ontario and Quebec will never agree says the Prime Minister. Effectiveness is not attainable because accountability and equality are unattainable. Round and round we go. The time is not right for Senate reform, or the proposals are not right, or the provincial climate is not right, or the federal climate is not right, or the moon is not in the right phase. Excuses, excuses, excuses.
In the opinion of the official opposition, the time for such lame excuses is over. It is time for leadership and action.
I want to end this presentation of the case for Senate reform with a challenge to this Parliament and to the federal government.
First, to the current senators whom I will divide into the two categories of distinguished senators and the others. To the others, and you know who you are, your colleagues know who you are, and if we have anything to do with it the media and public will know who you are. To those senators who discredit the Senate by patronage connections or by unethical behaviour or by abysmal attendance records, or by sloth or by greed, or by the abuse of travel and expense accounts, by the blatant misuse of positions for purely partisan work, by the failure to be accountable to anyone, by the failure to represent regional aspirations and concerns, to those senators we have only one request. Resign. Resign before the Senate is entirely discredited and you are kicked out lock, stock and barrel by the abolitionists.
In one of the public meetings we had years ago discussing the Senate amendment, I think it was in the Peace River country of B.C. or Alberta, when we got to this point of reforming the Senate, someone raised the question of what should be done with the senators who would be left behind. Given the standing rules of the House I cannot repeat in this Chamber and in the presence of civil company some of the suggestions that were made. All I can say is that the most charitable one was the one which suggested that those senators be granted immunity from future prosecution if they went quietly. That was the tamest of those suggestions.
I have a particular word for the senior Tory senator from Alberta whose reputation as he knows and as other people know was tarnished from the very outset when he took by appointment from the hand of Brian Mulroney the Senate seat which the people of Alberta had given by democratic election to the Reformer Stan Waters.
In late February when Senator Ghitter was convinced that Alberta would not proceed with a senatorial election, he offered to resign his seat to make way for an elected senator if the Prime Minister would so appoint. Now that Alberta is proceeding with a senate election, we challenge this senator to act on his offer without conditions. Resign and run in the Alberta election, if the Tories will have you, and join with Albertans in challenging the Prime Minister to appoint the winner of that election.
To the distinguished senators, and I acknowledge your existence and your contributions as distinct from the others, I offer a different challenge. Identify yourselves, clearly identity yourselves to members of this House, but more important to the media and the public as champions of reforming the Senate from within. Do not just talk about the need for Senate reform in generalities. Do something. Sponsor a debate in the Senate, a real no holds barred debate on genuine Senate reform.
Answer the suspicions and charges of an impatient public concerning fraudulent beginnings, compromised principles, patronage, excessive partisanship, excessive costs, unaccountability, inequality, ineffectiveness in the Senate as it is. Answer these charges and suspicions not with denials which no one will believe, or protestations of innocence, but by distancing yourselves publicly from those who discredit the Senate and by declaring in concrete terms your commitments to Senate reform.
Discipline those among you whose activities discredit the entire Senate institution and whose abuse of public position and public trust may well bring the Senate walls crashing down upon all your heads.
Sponsor your own Senate reform bill so that we in this House and the public at large can see where you stand in relation to the demands for equality, for accountability, for effectiveness and other reforms necessary to make the Senate a 21st century institution.
The Senate is often described as a Chamber of sober second thought. A lot of jokes have been made about that phrase. It brings to mind that New Testament parable about pouring new wine into old bottles, a parable on institutional reform which is as applicable to political institutions as it is to religious institutions.
The political vineyard in Canada is producing some new wine, demands for more accountability, effectiveness and respect for equality in all our federal institutions. This is strong stuff which should not be rejected or discarded simply because of its novelty or its harsh taste but which needs to be gathered and stored in proper institutions to mellow and be available for present and future use.
As is always the case in the contest between old wine and new wine, there will be those who will argue that the old wine is better and that the old wine bottle is to be preferred to the new. As is often the case, it is the best representatives of the old vintage, not the worst, who constitute the greatest obstacle to the production, storage and use of a new wine.
In every instance where there is a contest between the proponents of institutions as they are and institutions as they should be, between the defenders of the status quo and the advocates of reform, the greatest obstacle to change is never found in the protests of the worst representatives of the status quo. Rather it is the indifference or the objections of the best and most distinguished representatives of the old order that is the greatest obstacle to change and reform.
The public expects it and is unimpressed when the worst political appointees in the Senate object to our efforts to abolish patronage appointments, when senators surrounded by clouds of unethical or even illegal conduct protest our demands for accountability, or when senators who regard the Senate as an extension of their party object to our insistence that it be made an effective chamber of regional representation. The public expects such senators to be against real Senate reform and their opposition to Senate reform cuts no ice.
When the best and most distinguished senators appear indifferent to these features of the status quo or worse yet defend the status quo and join in the protest against reform, that is an obstacle which truly does delay and prevent genuine reform and makes things worse rather than better. I therefore challenge the best and the most distinguished members of the current Senate to declare themselves in deeds and not just in words clearly and strongly in favour of reform of the Senate. If and when that is done they will find themselves with allies in this House, in particular among the official opposition.
Now I have a challenge to the federal government, to the intergovernmental affairs minister and all other ministers and members with an interest in national unity. Start to see and support Senate reform for what it is, not some eccentric side issue but a means of addressing regional aspirations and concerns through a national institution; concerns and aspirations which if not recognized, if not represented, if not accommodated in concrete ways, have as much potential for destabilizing the unity of this federation in the future as any of the current discontents in Quebec.
We have no great demands of the Prime Minister. No great reforms are to be expected from a Prime Minister whose credo is that the status quo is good enough.
With respect to Senate reform, all we ask is assent to one tiny step: agree to appoint the next senator elected in Alberta to the first Senate vacancy for that province. Even Brian Mulroney ultimately bowed to the will of the public and appointed Stan Waters; surely this Prime Minister can do no less.
Finally, I have a challenge to the members of the House. I would like to ask for a ringing endorsement of genuine Senate reform from the 36th Parliament but I realize that day will not come until there are at least 150 members elected in this House with a commitment to that objective.
All I am asking the House for today is a token, a token step toward Senate reform but one that would be appreciated by the people of Nunavut and encouraging to Senate reformers everywhere. I ask members of the House to support a simple amendment to the Nunavut bill before us which will be moved by one of my colleagues at report stage. It is an amendment to the effect that prior to appointment of any senator for Nunavut the people of Nunavut should be asked by plebiscite: In your opinion, should Nunavut's first senator be selected by the Prime Minister or through election by the people of Nunavut?