Mr. Speaker, if that were one of the criteria, the hon. member would never have been able to speak in the House since he was elected.
Let me tell him how Bill C-4 becomes relevant to the debate on whether the Senate has a place to play in parliamentary democracy in the country. Bill C-4 had some serious flaws when it came to the House, but a government with a majority has a tendency not to listen to members of the opposition who quite frankly have some very good ideas and thoughts about how legislation could be made better.
Unfortunately that piece of legislation was rammed through committee and through the House. The only opportunity I had to make that legislation better was to elicit the support of the Senate.
The Senate did a wonderful job. The senators went out and listened to the Canadian public. They were accountable to the Canadian public. They held Senate hearings at which they listened to the stakeholders. They made changes that made the legislation better. It is a check and balance. It is an opportunity for parliamentarians to solicit and elicit the other house to make legislation better.
With a stroke of a pen the Reform Party would abolish the Senate. Where would we be? We would have a majority government able to do anything it wanted to the citizens of the country because it has a majority. The Reform Party has no plans. It has no understanding of parliamentary democracy. There is a requirement to have that check and balance.
Should there be reconstruction of the existing Senate? Of course there should but it should be done logically and with a well thought out plan. Let us not do it with vitriolic balderdash. Let us go forward and make sure that not only Canadians agree with the new plan but that the House and the Senate agree with the new structure and plan.
Let me give the House some ideas that were put forward in the Charlottetown accord. The Charlottetown accord came forward with restructuring of the Senate in mind. Who did not support it? The Reform Party did not support it. It did not want to restructure the Senate and make a change to the status quo. It did not want to think logically about how Canadians could be better governed.
The governance of the country was not important to that party. What was important was simply the matter of partisan politics, the hot button issues, instead of health care, agriculture and all other departments that are important to the country which we should be talking about.
Let me tell the House about the Senate. The Senate has helped me in the job that I do. I have that opportunity. When I came here I did not think that what was there was right. In fact there has to be some restructuring, but members opposite should take the time to phone the 1-800 number to talk to the senators. They are very accessible and very open.
Phone the 800 number that has been advertised by the NDP right now. Talk to the senators. Ask them their opinion. There are some very bright, experienced and very dedicated people in that House.
I will not mention names like the hon. member from Saskatchewan did because I do not think it is fair that we use those names in this House, but I can take members to the people who spend as much if not more time in their house than do probably the majority of members of parliament. There are good and bad in every house. I believe that the majority of the senators who sit on our side in the Senate are very good.
Let us talk about what would happen if there was not that check and balance. Simple solutions for very complex issues is where the Reform come on this one; a stroke of the pen and let us get rid of the Senate. Where would we be?
Right now we have a government that sits in power with its majority coming from Ontario. Do we want Ontario to run Canada? I think not. The Reform Party has a mantra that the west wants in. It would certainly be a heck of a lot harder for the west to have its voice heard if it was simply an Ontario or Quebec based government. Now we have the opportunity for the check and balance because we have the other house to call on when necessary.
We talked about an elected Senate. I have to honestly say that I have not got my head around this one yet. I have tried to analyse it; I have tried to look at all the pros and cons which is obviously something some of the members in the Reform Party and the NDP have not done. They simply like to push the button.
I looked at the American system. The member from Regina said that we look at other jurisdictions and what is good and what is bad. I look at the American senate which is elected. I see an administration of one political stripe and a house and senate of another political stripe. They get nothing done. They stop each other. They block each other. That is not good for democracy either. I am not so sure that the elected side of it should be there.
Let me talk about the reform in the Charlottetown accord. We talked about term limitations, something that everybody here should talk about and discuss logically. At one point in time a senator was appointed for life. That was wrong. Now senators are appointed until age 75. That too may be wrong. But what are the solutions? Should we have term limitations? Perhaps. Personally I could support a term limitation on the appointment of a senator.
It was also mentioned there should be some gauge as to what the efficiency and the effectiveness was for an individual. I agree. There should be gauges, attendance requirements and effectiveness and efficiency standards that have to be met. There is nothing wrong with that. We do it in the House. Our gauge and our standard is obviously an election. The Senate should have gauges and standards as well.
We should also talk about the effectiveness of the Senate and how it could be more accountable to the public it represents. The example was given that the senator from Regina has not been seen in Regina. That is wrong. A senator who is appointed to a provincial responsibility and jurisdiction should represent that responsibility and jurisdiction. That is part of the restructuring that should go on within the Senate, but it should not be a stroke of a pen abolition because it is not good governance for this country.
It was also said that senators do not do anything. I just gave the House the example of Bill C-4 which was very important, although the member from the NDP decided that Bill C-4 was not a very important piece of legislation. Probably because he agreed with Bill C-4 we disagreed with it.
Members of this House were treated as fools when Bill C-55 was put through. There was an urgency because we were going to protect the Canadian heritage. We were going to make sure that we would not back down from the Americans. It was a piece of legislation that was absolutely necessary. Where is Bill C-55 now? The only people who held up Bill C-55 to have it checked by the Canadian public was the Senate.
This government will be accountable for that. It was the wrong way to put that legislation through, it was the wrong legislation and it will be accountable. The only one that had the opportunity to bring that out in the open was the Senate.
Bill C-78 is a piece of legislation that came through the House because the Liberals are the majority. It was to take pensions away from superannuates. Thirty billion dollars will be taken away from Canadians because the government has a majority, but the bill has not passed the Senate. There will be accountability to the government because we have that check and balance.
Do not get me wrong. I said earlier that I believe very strongly there has to be some restructuring, but to sit here and say that we will not approve a $50 million budget for the other House is balderdash. It is not the way to do it.
I am disappointed and frustrated that we are not talking about real issues. Canadians should be able to deal with real issues. Canadians should have an opportunity to speak to real issues such as services that should be delivered by this government and that are not being delivered.
We waste our time talking about a budget of $50 million instead of the billions of dollars being wasted by this government or the billions of dollars being taken by this government from legitimate Canadians. Why? Because Reform wants to Senate bash. That is all it wants to do. It is the hot button politics of the Reform Party. Frankly, Canadians are losing when they have representation from the Reform Party.
A member of the NDP said that if most constituents would not support the Senate. In New Brunswick, most Canadians spoke and they did not support the NDP. There is one NDP member. In Ontario the constituents listened and they did not support the NDP. It has no official party status in Ontario. I believe in the electorate. I believe the electorate does the right thing. In this case, they certainly did the right thing.