Letter: Canadians deserve a democratic senate

STORSETH-web2

Discussion about Senate reform is nothing new and it’s a discussion our Conservative Government has never backed away from. Canadians rightly expect fairness and accountability in the full range of government institutions that serve them.

Canada’s Senate has long been criticised as an institution in need of reform. In our Oct. 29, 2012 Speech from the Throne, we stated, “Reform of the Senate remains a priority for our Government. Our Government will reintroduce legislation to limit term lengths and to encourage provinces and territories to hold elections for Senate nominees.”

In February 2013, Minister of State Uppal and Senator Carignan announced the launch of a reference on Senate reform to the Supreme Court of Canada. This is the first time in a generation that the Supreme Court of Canada will consider the constitutional amending procedure for reform to the Senate.

The questions referred seek legal certainty on the constitutional amending procedure for term limits for senators, democratic selection of senate nominees, net worth and property qualifications for senators, and abolition of the Senate.

The aim of the Reference is to accelerate the pace of reform and to lay the foundation for further reform to the Senate. Our Conservative Government received a strong mandate to pursue Senate reform and we are taking action to further our goal of a more democratic, effective and representative Senate.

Recent questions that have arisen regarding Senator expenses only serve to highlight the argument for more clarity, transparency, and accountability within this branch of government. Canadians deserve to know that their taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely and justly.

The Senate in its current unelected and unaccountable state must change in order to reach its full potential as a democratic institution serving Canadians.

Brian Storseth, MP Westlock – St. Paul

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