Getting Things Done: Senate Reform
September 18, 2021

Week of September 18 – September 22, 2021

Prime Minister Harper recently made Canadian history by appearing in front of a Senate committee, in Ottawa. He was the first sitting Prime Minister to address the Senate on the important issue of Senate reform. In the last election, Prime Minister Harper and the Conservatives promised to make Canada’s Senate an effective, independent, and democratically-elected body. Prime Minister Harper took the first step towards delivering on this promise for Canadians, by taking his reform proposals directly to Canada’s Senators.

On September 7th, Prime Minister Harper appeared before the Senate Committee on Legal Affairs to ask the Committee to support long overdue reforms to the Senate by supporting Bill S-4. This particular bill, an Act to Amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Senate Tenure), was introduced to the Senate on May 30, 2006, and proposes to limit Senate terms to eight years. Currently, Senators serve from the time of their appointment until the age of 75 years.

S-4 doesn’t promise full-scale Senate reform, but it is a step forward in bringing positive change to democratic legitimacy. If adopted, eight year terms would roughly equate to the lifespan of two consecutive majority governments, which is a fair and reasonable proposal that represents the expectations of Canadians. Presently, Senators can and sometimes are appointed for terms of 15, 30, or even 45 years, which is out of touch with our Canada in the 21st century and a practice that has few parallels in modern Western democracies.

The new Conservative Government believes there is still more work to do with respect to Senate reform beyond limiting terms to eight years. The Government intends to introduce a bill in the House of Commons this fall, to create a process to choose elected Senators. The bill will serve to further demonstrate how committed the Conservative Government is towards the issue of Senate reform and to fulfilling the promises it has made to Canadians for accountable and responsible Government. It is time to deliver change for Canadians.
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