Wow it was actually a Conservative who brought up the idea of a vote with regards to the future of the Senate. I did not know that until now.
I was studying this in my undergrad years taking a Poli Sci degree specializing in constitutional law. Premier Bill Bennett was pushing for Senate reform along with a new constitution.
Calls for significant Senate reform began to be heard in the mid-1970s. Trudeau was making the case for constitutional reform, highlighted by a charter of rights. At the time, B.C.'s Bennett promoted a new model for the Senate, which he called the "House of the Provinces" in which provincial governments would choose senators to act as their delegates to the central government. (My note - this proposal in fact came from Bennett's constitutional advisor Mel Smith).
The idea had some support from both sides — but for different reasons. Trudeau, the advocate of a strong central government, felt that a senate made up of provincial representatives might actually weaken the authority of the provincial premiers.
At the time, Canada was undergoing significant demographic shifts. The populations — and economic clout — of Alberta and B.C. were growing much faster than Quebec's. Quebec still held 24 Senate seats while Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C. held a combined total of 24.
By 1979, opposition to Trudeau's vision of a regionally enhanced Senate scuttled any notion of reform — as well as efforts to change the constitution. However, Bennett's proposal did serve to revive the idea of Senate reform.
Alberta was next to look at what to do with the Senate. Trudeau's National Energy Program had angered Albertans and then-premier Lougheed was looking for ways to keep Ottawa from intruding into his province's affairs.
Lougheed established a task force to look at ways of reforming the Senate and its recommendation was for the direct election of senators — and an equal number of senators for each province, like the American model.
The task force didn't get much attention in the rest of Canada, but an equal and elected Senate became a rallying cry for many Albertans.
Triple-E and Meech Lake
Then came the Meech Lake accord. It contained a provision that would have changed the way senators are selected. When a Senate vacancy came up, the prime minister would pick a name from a list submitted by the province where the vacancy arose.
As Meech was coming together, Preston Manning was turning his Western populist movement into the Reform Party. Part of its platform was a Triple-E Senate: elected, equal and effective, the latter meaning that an elected Senate would have close to the same powers as the House of Commons.
The Charlottetown accord contained more wide-ranging proposals for Senate reform.
Among the proposals were: an elected Senate — either by popular vote or election by members of provincial or territorial assemblies; six senators from each province and one from each territory; and guaranteed aboriginal representation in the Senate. In addition, the Senate could not defeat the government on a motion of confidence or block the routine flow of legislation relating to taxation, borrowing and appropriation. The accord also said senators should not be eligible to hold cabinet positions.
The reforms would never come to pass, doomed by the accord's rejection in the 1992 national referendum.
The constitutional squabbles, however, did not stop individual provinces from acting.
In 1989, a Senate seat became vacant in Alberta. The provincial government held an election among candidates who wanted the seat. Stan Waters won. A year later, Mulroney — who was still looking for provincial support in ratifying the Meech Lake accord — appointed Waters to the Senate.
Waters died a year later. His vacancy was eventually filled by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien the way prime ministers had always appointed senators.
In fact, it would be almost 20 years before another elected senator would join the chamber. Bert Brown, a longtime champion of Senate reform, took the most votes in Alberta's 2004 Senate election and was appointed in April 2007 by Stephen Harper.
Alberta and B.C. eventually passed legislation that provided for Senate elections. (The B.C. law, however, had a sunset provision and eventually expired.) Saskatchewan introduced legislation to that effect in November 2008.http://www.cbc.ca/ne...ate-reform.html
Edited by Wetcoaster, 25 January 2013 - 04:39 PM.