The Democratic Dilemma: Reforming the Canadian Senate

The Democratic Dilemma: Reforming the Canadian Senate

by Jennifer Smith


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The government's initiatives are proving controversial for two reasons. One is the contents of the bills. The other is procedural and concerns the federal government's strategy of treating Senate reform as a matter for Parliament alone to determine - a matter of federal legislation rather than an amendment of the constitution.

Contributors examine all angles of the debate on Senate reform. They address the constitutionality of the proposals and bring to light features of the bills that have not yet been analyzed, assessing their significance for the conduct of a reformed chamber. They consider whether the objectives of the reformers are likely to be met by these proposals or whether the result will have unintended consequences. They demonstrate how complicated Senate reform is, full of unexpected twists and turns, and show that successful reform requires a deep understanding of the country's parliamentary system and culture and a delicate approach to institutional change.

Contributors include Jane Ajzenstat (McMaster University), Peter Aucoin (Dalhousie University), Louise Carbert (Dalhousie University), Don Desserud (University of New Brunswick in Saint John), Andrew Heard (Simon Fraser University), Tom Kent (Institute for Research on Public Policy and Queen's University), Stephen Michael MacLean (independent scholar), Lorna Marsden (York University), Vincent Pouliot (lawyer and entrepreneur, Quebec), Hugh Segal (Senate of Canada), David Smith (University of Regina), Nadia Verrelli (Queen's University), Ron Watts (Queen's University), and John Whyte (University of Saskatchewan).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781553391906
Publisher: McGill-Queens University Press
Publication date: 02/01/2009
Series: Queen's Policy Studies Series , #129
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jennifer Smith is professor of political science, Dalhousie University.

Table of Contents

Foreword v

Notes on Contributors vii

1 Introduction Jennifer Smith 1

The Senate of Canada: Historical Background

2 The Senate of Canada and the Conundrum of Reform David E. Smith 11

3 Harmonizing Regional Representation with Parliamentary Government: The Original Plan Janet Ajzenstat 27

4 Federal Second Chambers Compared Ronald L. Watts 35

5 Harper's Senate Reform: An Example of Open Federalism? Nadia Verrelli 49

Constitutionality of the Federal Government's Approach to Change

6 Bill C-20: Faulty Procedure and Inadequate Solution (Testimony before the Legislative Committee on Bill C-20, House of Commons, 7 May 2008) Ronald L. Watts 59

7 Whither 91.1? The Constitutionality of Bill C-19: An Act to Limit Senate Tenure Don Desserud 63

8 Constitutional Doubts about Bill C-20 and Senatorial Elections Andrew Heard 81

9 Senate Reform: What Does the Constitution Say? John Whyte 97

Content of the Federal Government's Proposed Changes

10 Anticipating the Consequences of Bill C-20 Stephen Michael MacLean 113

11 Assessing Senate Reform through Bill C-19: The Effects of Limited Terms for Senators Andrew Heard 117

12 The Constitutionality of Bill C-20 Vincent Pouliot 141

13 Bill C-20's Populist Model of Campaign Finance for Senate Elections: The First Step Away from Canada's Egalitarian Regime? Peter Aucoin 145

14 Senate Reform: What Does Bill C-20 Mean for Women? Louise Carbert 153

How Necessary is Senate Reform?

15 Senate Reform as a Risk to Take, Urgently Tom Kent 167

16 Senate Reform and Democratic Legitimacy: Beyond Stasis Senator Hugh Segal 173

17 Thoughts on Senate Reform Lorna R. Marsden 185

Appendix 189

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