Saturday, December 27, 2008

Senate reform for Dummies

The recent Senate appointments by our Prime Minister and subsequent debate over how to reform the Upper Chamber, gives me a great chance to add my two cents, if in fact it's worth even that, to the debate. First though, I think everyone needs to be made aware of one simple fact. It should be kept in mind when you listen to all the yelling from both sides. No matter how much we want to reform the Senate, and I know some see abolishing it as the only option, the process to truly reform it is complicated, both constitutionally, and politically. It can't be done away with by a motion in the House, it is embedded deeply within our political system, some argue designed as such, because they wanted to ensure it was always around, as a safe haven for partisan hacks ( not my view, just repeating what I have heard). It would require massive consultation with provinces, compromise among deeply divided groups, and massive concessions from some who may have no logical, reasonable expectation to make such compromises. So with the knowledge of the migraine style headaches associated with, and years of time to accomplish such reform, may I make a simple suggestion.

If we want to ensure that appointments to the Senate are without political influence, then perhaps whenever a seat is vacated, the federal government randomly selects the name of a Canadian from within its massive databanks. I am certain that they have a file on every Canadian who pays taxes, which are inturn used to pay the Senators salary. No influence, no coercion, no paybacks, no rewards, people can't complain about this region vs that region, it's a random draw open to all Canadians who are legally entitled to work and be taxed, in our great Country. You know it may even bring in extra revenue, imagine all those people who don't file tax now, but want a shot at the $130,000/year until age 75 job. Imagine that, a Senate that fairly represents us all, and makes the government money, that's what I call reform.

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