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Update Post #26 - Constitutionality of Senate Reform Bill Opinion Sought from SCOC


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#1 Wetcoaster

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 01:17 PM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has appointed five new senators to sit in the Upper Chamber, including one chosen by voters in Alberta.

Harper made the announcement in a press release Friday afternoon.

The new senators are:
  • Denise Batters, a Regina lawyer and mental-health advocate whose late husband, former MP Dave Batters, committed suicide.
  • Lynn Beyak, a small business owner from Dryden, Ont., with experience in real estate, insurance and tourism.
  • Doug Black, a Calgary lawyer, as well as vice-chair and senior counsel of the law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP.
  • Victor Oh, a Mississauga, Ont., entrepreneur and president of Wyford Holdings, a property development and management business.
  • David Wells, a St. John's executive who most recently served as deputy CEO of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.
The appointments take effect immediately, bringing the total number of Conservative Party seats to 65. The Liberal Party has 36 seats, with one senator claiming Progressive Conservative membership and two others sitting as Independents. This round of appointments leaves one vacancy.
http://www.cbc.ca/ne...w-senators.html

Edited by Wetcoaster, 01 February 2013 - 03:41 PM.

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#2 Special Ed

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 01:56 PM

Is this what 'big government' means?
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If you like looking at statistics to determine who's better, you're just a casual fan.

2.41 season GAA isn't very impressive. Let's not get into playoffs and his SV%.

Cory Schneider is the next Patrick Roy.


#3 Wetcoaster

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 01:59 PM

Is this what 'big government' means?

Nope - just filling existing vacancies.
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#4 Special Ed

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 02:03 PM

Nope - just filling existing vacancies.


Ah ok. Didn't have time to read the full article thanks.
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If you like looking at statistics to determine who's better, you're just a casual fan.

2.41 season GAA isn't very impressive. Let's not get into playoffs and his SV%.

Cory Schneider is the next Patrick Roy.


#5 Ryan Strome

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:19 PM

Good ole Harper
During his time in oppositon did nothing but b!tch and complain about un-elected senators, now he has appointed more un-elected senators then any other Pm. The Senate should be scrapped!
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#6 Wetcoaster

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 03:57 PM

Good ole Harper
During his time in oppositon did nothing but b!tch and complain about un-elected senators, now he has appointed more un-elected senators then any other Pm. The Senate should be scrapped!

Not so easy as this 2009 research paper from the Parliamentary Research Bureau points out and there are in fact good reasons to keep the Senate as is:
http://www.parl.gc.c...s/prb0908-e.htm

Harper did in fact try to change things but was blocked because any real change would require a constitutional amendment and that is simply not happening. The Harper government has introduced seven bills on Senate reform since taking office in 2006. The best he has was Alberta agreeing to hold elections and that policy he would appoint from that election.

As noted in September 2012:


It looks as if the long-awaited Senate reform bill might not be making its way to the House of Commons during the fall session after all.


According to the Globe and Mail, the Harper government is making plans to ask the Supreme Court to vet the constitutionality of Bill C-7, a controversial piece of legislation which would incline provinces to hold senatorial elections and impose a nine-year term limit for senators.


The proposed reforms have faced serious opposition from the other parties in the House as well as provincial governments across the country.


Quebec has already called on the province's court of appeal to rule on C-7's constitutionality while Nova Scotia has asked that any reforms be done through constitutional amendment.


A Supreme Court blessing would indeed help the Harper government push the bill through the legislative process. Former Quebec MNA Benoît Pelletier says that it's a case of better now than later.


"It is a wise choice to go to the courts at the start of the process," Pelletier, now a professor of law at the University of Ottawa, told the Globe.

He added that there is "no doubt that the courts will have their say on the file" at some point in the process.


How about a referendum on abolishing the senate?


The Hill Times notes that the Harper government has introduced seven bills on Senate reform since taking office in 2006.


If the Supreme Court reference fails, what about a referendum on the senate?


According to CBC News, the idea is not as crazy as it sounds.


"Conservative Senator Hugh Segal has twice introduced a motion in the Senate to hold a referendum on its future and he's going to try again," notes the post from June 2011.


"His referendum would ask voters to choose between three options: abolish, reform, or keep the status quo."


While Segal acknowledged the constitutional "brick wall," he suggests that if the majority of Canadians favoured abolition, then provincial governments would be less inclined to fight the change in the courts.


According to a 2010 Angus Reid poll, only 5 per cent of Canadians endorse the Senate's status-quo.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/harper-bid-reform-senate-likely-delayed-again-195332174.html

You cannot simply scrap the Senate.
http://www.cbc.ca/ne...ate-reform.html
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#7 Ryan Strome

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:20 PM

So infact it would have been much more difficult to abolish the Senate then Mr Layton indicated during the last campaign?
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#8 KoreanHockeyFan

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:24 PM

So infact it would have been much more difficult to abolish the Senate then Mr Layton indicated during the last campaign?


Well if senators actually have to be voted for, then I think the senate would hold some form of legitimacy. There's notthing wrong with two chambers in parliament, it's just the fact that PM's having the the power to appoint senators at their own will makes the Senate pointless.

Either get this reform done, or just get rid of the Senate.

Edited by KoreanHockeyFan, 25 January 2013 - 04:25 PM.

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#9 Ryan Strome

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:25 PM

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.
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#10 canuck_trevor16

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:28 PM

The senate should be kept but done so by getting citzens to voters that are equal for each province.........or something like half elected half appointed by a independent committee.......it is a complicated issue as they have senator reform in the past and it failed. it was done in 1992 the triple E senate in Alberta..........I did a entire paper on this issue
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#11 literaphile

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:29 PM

So infact it would have been much more difficult to abolish the Senate then Mr Layton indicated during the last campaign?


Yes. Amending the constitution is nearly impossible.
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#12 Ryan Strome

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:30 PM

@Koreanhockeyfan
Thats my point.
They should be elected, and Harper promised this. As Wetcoaster pointed out though there seems to be alot more to it.
Also there has been some awful mis-use of tax-payers money in that senate.
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#13 Wetcoaster

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:36 PM

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.

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#14 Ryan Strome

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 04:37 PM

I would like to see the senate gone though. It makes it very difficult to get bills passed. For example, when Harper took power the senate was full of Liberal senators. It works both ways though, if the next gov in 2015 is Ndp or Liberal (or both lol) it will be hard to pass bills as the senate will be 2/3 right wing.
Not to mention it would save the tax payer millions of dollars a year.
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#15 Lancaster

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 05:11 PM

I was hoping Harper will reform the Senate, maybe something along the lines of the US Senate, where each province/territory will have equal representation.

I wonder how difficult that would be.
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#16 Wetcoaster

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 05:13 PM

I was hoping Harper will reform the Senate, maybe something along the lines of the US Senate, where each province/territory will have equal representation.

I wonder how difficult that would be.

http://forum.canucks.../#entry11092283
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#17 canuck_trevor16

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 05:15 PM

Canadian Senate is a joke compare to US Senate or the British House of Lords........
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#18 Ryan Strome

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 05:36 PM

Well the house of Lords and the US senate are often considered a joke by the constituents in the 2 Countries you noted.
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#19 silverpig

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Posted 25 January 2013 - 09:10 PM

I would like to see the senate become a former of technocracy. It would be filled with canada's brightest minds and experts in their fields to provide an educated and expert sober second look at what the house of "commons" passes.
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Moo

#20 Electro Rock

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 10:16 AM

I would like to see the senate become a former of technocracy. It would be filled with canada's brightest minds and experts in their fields to provide an educated and expert sober second look at what the house of "commons" passes.


We have too many ivory tower types making our decisions for us as is, it would be beneficial to all the Michael Ignatiefs and David Suzukis out there however.
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#21 silverpig

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 10:42 AM

We have too many ivory tower types making our decisions for us as is, it would be beneficial to all the Michael Ignatiefs and David Suzukis out there however.


We do?

Mark Carney did a pretty damn good job for us.

David Suzuki providing oversight into an omnibus budget bill that scraps environmental regulations might not be a bad thing. Having someone like Paul Krugman providing oversight into stimulus plans would be good. Having some statisticians overseeing the policy on the census makes sense.

Right now politicians are mostly former lawyers and businessmen. They don't have the expertise required to make a lot of the complicated decisions they do, and as a result, our system is run off of popularity and not logic.
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#22 Electro Rock

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 11:40 AM

Academic types, while knowledgable enough in their respective fields, are often *utterly* lacking in common sense and perspective.

This is especially the case in Canada, where academic qualifications are overvalued to the point where even a degree that has nothing to do with the matter of hand will be held up in authority over concensus expertise in that field.
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"The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."

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#23 Wetcoaster

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 11:56 AM

Academic types, while knowledgable enough in their respective fields, are often *utterly* lacking in common sense and perspective.

This is especially the case in Canada, where academic qualifications are overvalued to the point where even a degree that has nothing to do with the matter of hand will be held up in authority over concensus expertise in that field.

I have most often seen that problem in non-academics and the poorly educated where they make claims from a position of ignorance.

Unfortunately common sense is all too uncommon generally and as that great philosopher George Carlin observed:

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

NOTE - the video below contains language not suitable for minors and the overly sensitive. Do not play if you are easily offended by vulgar language. This warning is given per the Board Rules:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rh6qqsmxNs
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#24 Electro Rock

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 12:09 PM

Robert Strange McNamera says "Hi."
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"The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened."

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#25 Cooker

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Posted 26 January 2013 - 05:00 PM

We do?

Mark Carney did a pretty damn good job for us.

David Suzuki providing oversight into an omnibus budget bill that scraps environmental regulations might not be a bad thing. Having someone like Paul Krugman providing oversight into stimulus plans would be good. Having some statisticians overseeing the policy on the census makes sense.

Right now politicians are mostly former lawyers and businessmen. They don't have the expertise required to make a lot of the complicated decisions they do, and as a result, our system is run off of popularity and not logic.


This is usually the role of the bureaucracy who usually help in the policy oversight and drafting of the language of bills. So, would you say that there's no real need for legislators, but rather a demand for experts in various fields of government? i.e. Economics, foreign relations etc.

The bold part made me laugh though.
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#26 Wetcoaster

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Posted 01 February 2013 - 03:39 PM

The federal government has now referred its plans for Senate Reform set out in Bill C-7
( http://www.parl.gc.c...1&DocId=5101177 ) to the Supreme Court of Canada for an opinion on its constitutionality.

The federal government will seek clarification from the Supreme Court on its powers to reform or abolish the Senate, the Minister of State for Democratic Reform confirmed Friday afternoon in Ottawa.

Tim Uppal tried to blame the opposition parties for delaying the legislation, which was first introduced in June 2011, but hasn't been debated for nearly a year.

A key piece of the Conservative Party's platform going back to the days of its predecessor, the Reform Party, Senate reform has stalled amid resistance from senators and some of the provinces.

There are also questions about whether the majority of the provinces have to agree to the reform, something required for constitutional change. The federal government maintains such changes are relatively minor and can be done with the approval of Parliament alone.

The government's Senate reform bill, C-7, would limit senators' terms to nine years and allow the provinces to hold elections to choose senators. The Governor General would then, on the advice of the prime minister, appoint senators who had been selected through provincial elections.

The court is being asked whether the Senate Reform Act is constitutional, as well as about the constitutional amending procedure for changes to the net worth and property qualifications for Senate nominees, which were designed at the time of Confederation.

http://www.cbc.ca/ne...ate-reform.html
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#27 Wetcoaster

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 05:16 PM

Here are the six questions referred to the SCOC.

The Governor in Council has referred the following questions to the Supreme Court of Canada:

Senate Term Limits

1. In relation to each of the following proposed limits to the tenure of Senators, is it within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada, acting pursuant to section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982, to make amendments to section 29 of the Constitution Act, 1867 providing for


a. a fixed term of nine years for Senators, as set out in clause 5 of Bill C-7, the Senate Reform Act;

b. a fixed term of ten years or more for Senators;

c. a fixed term of eight years or less for Senators;

d. a fixed term of the life of two or three Parliaments for Senators;

e. a renewable term for Senators, as set out in clause 2 of Bill S-4, Constitution Act, 2006 (Senate tenure);

f. limits to the terms for Senators appointed after October 14, 2008 as set out in subclause 4(1) of Bill C-7, the Senate Reform Act; and

g. retrospective limits to the terms for Senators appointed before October 14, 2008?



Senate Appointment Consultations: National Process

2. Is it within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada, acting pursuant to section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, or section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982, to enact legislation that provides a means of consulting the population of each province and territory as to its preferences for potential nominees for appointment to the Senate pursuant to a national process as was set out in Bill C-20, the Senate Appointment Consultations Act?


Senate Appointment Consultations: Provincial Processes

3. Is it within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada, acting pursuant to section 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, or section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982, to establish a framework setting out a basis for provincial and territorial legislatures to enact legislation to consult their population as to their preferences for potential nominees for appointment to the Senate as set out in the schedule to Bill C-7, the Senate Reform Act?


Property Qualifications

4. Is it within the legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada acting pursuant to section 44 of the Constitution Act, 1982 to repeal subsections 23(3) and (4) of the Constitution Act, 1867 regarding property qualifications for Senators?


Senate Abolition

5. Can an amendment to the Constitution of Canada to abolish the Senate be accomplished by the general amending procedure set out in section 38 of the Constitution Act, 1982, by one of the following methods:

a. by inserting a separate provision stating that the Senate is to be abolished as of a certain date, as an amendment to the Constitution Act, 1867 or as a separate provision that is outside of the Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1982 but that is still part of the Constitution of Canada;

b. by amending or repealing some or all of the references to the Senate in the Constitution of Canada; or

c. by abolishing the powers of the Senate and eliminating the representation of provinces pursuant to paragraphs 42(1)(b) and (c ) of the Constitution Act, 1982?

6. If the general amending procedure in section 38 of the Constitution Act, 1982 is not sufficient to abolish the Senate, does the unanimous consent provision set out in section 41 of the Constitution Act, 1982 apply?

Edited by Wetcoaster, 02 February 2013 - 05:20 PM.

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#28 canuck_trevor16

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 05:19 PM

I think this is good now that thee is finally something done about Senate reform......too long in the making and talk about for the last couple of years. ? but when does it begin? after the next election? in 2015

Edited by canuck_trevor16, 02 February 2013 - 05:20 PM.

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#29 Wetcoaster

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Posted 02 February 2013 - 05:22 PM

I think this is good now that Senators would be elected? but when does it begin? after the next election? in 2015

That depends upon when the SCOC renders its opinion and what the opinion has to say - then the legislation would have to be passed into law.

Probably 18 months to 2 years before the reference case makes it way to the SCOC and then likely 6 months or more until the opinion is rendered.
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#30 Wetcoaster

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 11:34 AM

I do not think that this is the sort of Senate reform that the Harper Government had in mind.

Senator Patrick Brazeau has been removed from the Conservative Party's caucus, while sources tell CBC News that he is in a police jail in Gatineau, Que., following an alleged domestic dispute.
http://www.cbc.ca/ne...out-caucus.html

There is no word if Senator Brazeau is preparing to go on a hunger strike until re-admitted to the Conservative party caucus.

Brazeau is also under investigation along with several other Senators relating to residency expense claims for claiming to live outside of Ottawa and collecting a generous housing allowance.
http://www.cbc.ca/ne...questioned.html
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To err is human - but to really screw up you need a computer.

Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it.

Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

Illegitimi non carborundum.

Never try to teach a pig to sing - it wastes your time and annoys the pig.




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