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Results: 1 - 6 of 6
View Paul Calandra Profile
CPC (ON)
Mr. Speaker, while our Conservative government and Canadians alike are focused on delivering meaningful reform to the Senate, including elections, term limits and tough spending oversight, with his divisive comments this week, the Liberal leader again underscores his lack of judgment and experience.
The Liberal leader has come out as the champion of the status quo, demanding that the Senate remain unelected and unaccountable, because in his words, it is an advantage to Quebec. He said there are 24 senators in Quebec and only 6 for Alberta and British Columbia, which is to Quebec's benefit.
The Liberal leader refuses to offer any substantive commentary on reform or commit his party to work with us to deliver accountability for taxpayers. Instead, the Liberal leader maintained his divisive track record of pitting one region of Canada against another.
It is time for the Liberal leader to get behind our Conservative government and deliver real reform to the Senate.
View Richard Harris Profile
CPC (BC)
Mr. Speaker, the leader of the Liberal Party is clearly in over his head. Instead of working with our government to bring greater accountability and transparency to the Senate, the Liberal leader is promoting the Senate status quo. This time, as he says, it is because it is to Quebec's advantage.
The Liberal leader said there are 24 senators in Quebec and only 6 for Alberta and British Columbia, which is to Quebec's benefit.
These divisive comments are not surprising. They are consistent with the Liberal leader's poor judgment and lack of respect of Canadians outside of his home province.
The Liberal leader famously once said, “Quebecers are better than the rest of Canada because, you know, we are Quebecers, or whatever”, and that he would think of wanting to make Quebec a country.
The Liberal leader's decision to pit one region of Canada against another is just more proof that he does not have the judgment to be Prime Minister.
View Randy Hoback Profile
CPC (SK)
Mr. Speaker, over the weekend the Liberal leader attacked Saskatchewan and all of western Canada by saying there are 24 senators in Quebec and only 6 for Alberta and British Columbia, which is to Quebec's benefit. The Liberal leader is demanding that senators remain unaccountable and unelected because it is an advantage for Quebec.
The Liberal leader's comments were strongly rebuked by Premier Wall today, who said he was disappointed in him. The Liberal leader's attack on Saskatchewan is more proof that he has neither the experience nor the judgment to be a prime minister.
The Liberal leader continues to pit region against region. Maybe the Liberal leader simply does not know or understand what Canada's national interests are, or maybe he is in way over his head.
View Kirsty Duncan Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, last night I was honoured to participate in the committee of the whole regarding the environment. It was extremely unfortunate, however, that the minister kept telling parliamentarians that he did not have answers. Sometimes he simply refused to answer, even though his officials were sitting right in front of him with the information.
For example, the minister failed to answer my questions on the cost of liabilities that would arise under the new environmental assessment process, how the government compares it to the cost of liabilities under the old assessment process and whether he would table said analysis.
He failed to answer how many of the 10 ozonesonde stations would be supported under the new budget. This matters because ozone is critical life on earth and it protects us from the sun's harmful radiation.
He failed to specify what is in the budget to address the concerns of the environment commissioner.
He failed to answer whether there were any disruptions in service at the World Ozone and Ultraviolet Radiation Data Centre.
He failed to list the organizations he has accused of money laundering. These were only a few of my questions that he failed or refused to answer.
Let me provide some facts about the Conservative government's repeated failing grades on the environment. The 2008 climate change performance index ranked Canada 56th of 57 countries in terms of tackling emissions. In 2009, The Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada 15th of 17 wealthy industrialized nations on environmental performance. In 2010, Simon Fraser University ranked Canada 24th of 25 OECD nations on environmental performance. Most recently, Columbia and Yale's environmental performance index ranked Canada 102nd of 132 countries on climate change.
This profoundly sad time for the environment under the Conservatives continues. The government is now gutting 50 years of environmental oversight and threatening the health and safety of Canadians, our communities, our economy, our livelihoods and our future generations.
We need to be very clear that when the government came to power it inherited a legacy of balanced budgets but soon plunged us into deficit before the recession ever hit. It is absolutely negligent and shameful that the government would gut environmental safeguards to fast-track development rather than promote sustainable development that meets the needs of today without compromising those of the future. The government did not campaign in the last election on gutting environmental protections.
Canadians should therefore rise up, have their voices heard and stop the destruction of laws that protect the environment and health and safety of Canadians.
Maurice Strong, a prominent Canadian who spearheaded the Rio earth summit in 1992, has urged people who are concerned about the future of the environment to do an end run around the federal government. He urged grassroots groups to mobilize and make full use of social media, saying there was still time to bring the pressure of people power.
Instead of understanding the gravity of the situation and standing up for the environment, the Conservative government returns to tired talking points, trying to score political points by attacking the former Liberal leader, saying that the Liberals took no action on climate change when it knows this is absolutely false. The Liberals implemented project green, which would have taken us 80% of the way to meeting our Kyoto targets. The Conservatives killed project green, reduced our greenhouse gas emission targets by an astonishing 90%, spent over $9 billion of taxpayers' hard-earned money and achieved little, walked away from Kyoto, are in the process of repealing the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, and continue to ignore the fact that failing to take action on climate change will cost Canadians $21 billion to $43 billion annually by 2050.
Last week the environment commissioner reported what we have known for a very long time, that the government is not on track to make its 2020 emissions targets. Environment Canada's own forecast shows that in 2020 Canada's emissions will be 7% above 2005 levels, not the promised 17% below.
The so-called law and order government has yet again violated the rule of law. According to the environment commissioner, the federal government did not comply with the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act passed by Parliament in 2007. Does the minister think it is okay to break the law, and going forward, what accountability measures would he put in place to ensure transparency when reporting greenhouse gas emissions to Canadians?
Maurice Strong says that the government may be totally negative when it comes to being a constructive force in mitigating climate change. For example, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment continues to rail against Kyoto. Is she aware, however, that her own minister has, for the second time, said that Kyoto was a good idea in its time? He first said it to The Huffington Post and he has now said it to the BBC.
Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway's former prime minister and the former chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development and former director general of the World Health Organization, recently said that Canada was moving backward on the issue of climate change and warned Canada not to be naive on the issue. She recently told delegates in Canada that despite the weaknesses of the Kyoto protocol, the world could not afford to push it aside without an alternative, as emissions are continually rising.
When questioned about the link between human activity and climate change, she said, “Politicians and others that question the science, that's not the right thing to do. We have to base ourselves on evidence.”
When will the minister deliver the plans and regulations for the six remaining sectors, and particularly for one of the most important sectors, the oil and gas industry, as the oil sands are the fastest-growing source of emissions in Canada?
Last night I asked the minister how many of Environment Canada's climate impacts adaptation group, many of them Nobel prize-winning scientists, would be supported to undertake adaptation work for Canada, as the cost of adaptation will, once again, be $21 billion to $43 billion annually by 2050. I was asked to repeat the question.
On asking the question a third time, I received the ridiculous answer that the adaptation research group is, like climate change, an evolving organization.
While the Conservatives claim a balanced approach to protecting the environment and promoting economic growth, when has the parliamentary secretary or the minister actually ever stood up for the environment? Was it through cuts to Environment Canada, cuts to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, or cuts to ozone monitoring?
The list of cuts goes on and on.
Canadians should not be fooled by mere snippets of environmental protection but should pay attention to the government's budget reductions to Environment Canada and to other investments on environmental protection and research by hundreds of millions of dollars, while maintaining several tax incentives for the oil and gas sector that the Minister of Finance's department recommended eliminating in his secret memo.
After we vote against this kitchen sink budget, a budget that devotes 150 of its 425 pages to environmental gutting, the Conservative government will stand and say that the opposition voted against some good things for the environment. However, the government gives us absolutely no choice, as we simply cannot vote for the wholesale destruction of environmental legislation and 50 years of safeguards.
If the parliamentary secretary, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Natural Resources really believe that Bill C-38, the kitchen sink bill, is good for the environment, they should have the courage to hive off the sections on environmental protection, send them to the relevant committees for clause-by-clause study under public scrutiny and end the affront to democracy.
I have a list of cuts to Environment Canada and just some of the changes on the environment to be found in Bill C-38.
There are cuts of 200 positions at Environment Canada.
Last summer the government announced cuts of 700 positions and a 43% cut to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
There are cuts to research and monitoring initiatives, air pollution, industrial emissions, water equality, waste water and partnerships for a greener economy. There are cuts of $3.8 million for emergency disaster response.
As well, the government is consolidating the unit that responds to oil spill emergencies to central Canada, namely Gatineau and Montreal, far from where emergencies, including those involving diluted bitumen, might occur on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and along the proposed route of the northern gateway pipeline project.
What are the numbers and percentages of the slashes to the new central Canada unit that will have to respond to oil spill emergencies? When will the minister table the scientific analysis that backs up his claims that there will be no negative impact?
Last week Environment Canada released its report on plans and priorities, signed by the minister. I will quote from the report:
Skills: Due to transition alignment challenges, the Department risks being unable to stay current with advances in science and technology. In addition...knowledge required to support programs and internal services could pose difficulties...
Environment Canada is a science-based department. The above passage suggests the government is doing Environment Canada serious damage. The minister has previously misled Canadians by saying there would be no compromise of programs.
Given the recognition that there is a problem at Environment Canada, I would like to know what new funds the Minister of the Environment has specifically allocated to bring his department up to date with advances in science and technology in order to protect the environment, the health and safety of Canadians, and evidence-based decision making.
The government has repealed the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. It has repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which allows the federal government to avoid environmental reviews of many potentially harmful projects and to do less comprehensive reviews when they do occur.
Canada's environment commissioner says that the changes are among the most significant policy development in 30 or 40 years and that there will be a significant narrowing of public participation.
The Minister of Natural Resources complains:
Unfortunately, our inefficient, duplicative and unpredictable regulatory system is an impediment. It is complex, slow-moving and wasteful. It subjects major projects to unpredictable and potentially endless delays.
but Premier Jean Charest says:
In Quebec, we've very well mastered the ability of doing joint assessments.... I have learned, through my experiences, that trying to short circuit to reduce the process will only make it longer, and it is better to have a rigorous, solid process. It gives a better outcome, and for those who are promoting projects, it will give them more predictability than if not.
There are more changes: the weakening of several environmental laws, including species at risk and water; the near-elimination of fish habitat in the Fisheries Act, putting species from coast to coast to coast at increased risk of habitat flaws and population decline; placing the authority of the federal cabinet to approve new pipeline projects above the National Energy Board; and the elimination of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, the independent think tank with a direct mandate from Parliament.
The Minister of the Environment has never said what will replace it, despite my asking twice in Parliament. The head of NRT does not know either, as what it does is unique.
This week the Minister of Foreign Affairs said the closure of the round table had more to do with the content of the research itself, namely promotion of a carbon tax as a means of addressing climate change. He said:
Why should taxpayers have to pay for more than 10 reports promoting a carbon tax, something which the people of Canada have repeatedly rejected?
The Minister of Foreign Affairs confirms what we have known for a very long time, namely that the government puts ideology above evidence.
The NRT issued economic and science-based reports, which did not agree with Conservative ideology. The national round table has been a well-respected, unbiased, independent organization for over two decades. It was started by the Mulroney government, our present Governor General was its founding chair and the government should know how important it is.
The foreign minister's remarks two days ago had nothing to do with the carbon tax—after all, the Prime Minister himself has promised a price on carbon of $65 per tonne by 2016 to 2018—but were the government's attempt to change the channel, as it was coming under harsh criticism for gutting environmental protection. It was also the government's attempt to silence its critics. The government is practising 1940s-style McCarthyism: shut down any independent voice, and bully and intimidate those who cannot be shut down.
We are also seeing the silencing of government critics through changes to the Canada Revenue Agency and the attempts to seize control of the university research agenda. The government should be able to stand on its own merits and should be able to withstand criticism, but instead of making its arguments, it is just looking to eliminate dissent.
The criticism of Bill C-38 is extensive. For example, the Ottawa Citizen reports, under the heading “Something's fishy with Bill C-38...”:
There was no need for great chunks of legislation to be retrofitted into a 420-page omnibus budget bill that looks to have been intended to confound every effort by the House of Commons to scrutinize its contents intelligently.
Under the heading “Omnibus bill threatens fish...”, The Vancouver Sun reported:
A new front in the battle against the federal government's omnibus budget bill opened up Monday when B.C. Conservative Party leader John Cummins sent a letter to [the] Prime Minister...warning of major threats to fishing communities and the environment if major Fisheries Act amendments are passed.
For decades, Canadians have depended on the federal government to safeguard our families and nature from pollution, toxic contamination and other environmental problems through a safety net of environmental laws. This bill shreds this environmental safety net to fast-track development at the expense of all Canadians.
Instead the government could have implemented my Motions Nos. 322, 323 and 325, which focused on Canada's commitment to sustainable development, recognizing that it was not a choice between saving the economy and the environment and therefore working with the provinces, territories and stakeholders to develop a green economy strategy and a national sustainable energy strategy to build the jobs of the future for our communities and for Canada.
When we compromise the air, the water, the soil, the variety of life, we steal from the endless future to serve the fleeting present.
View Dean Del Mastro Profile
Cons. Ind. (ON)
View Dean Del Mastro Profile
2011-12-06 13:01 [p.4069]
Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely delighted to join in the debate on this very important bill. It seems to be a spirited debate between the members in the far corner and some of the members on the government side.
The bill represents a commitment that our government made to Canadians to move the House toward fairer representation. In particular, it reflects our government's three distinct promises to provide fair representation by: allocating an increased number of seats now and in the future to better reflect the population growth in Ontario, which is my home province, British Columbia and Alberta; maintaining the number of seats for smaller provinces; and maintaining the proportional representation of Quebec according to its population.
We campaigned on those promises and Canadians voted in a strong, stable, national Conservative government. We received a strong mandate and with this bill we are moving the House of Commons toward fair representation for all Canadians. We promised that to Canadians; they voted for us, and we are delivering on that.
I would be remiss if I did not specifically challenge the member who just spoke. I was going to ask him a question, but because I was next to speak, I thought I would address it in my remarks.
I have coined a term for the Liberal proposal. It is a little catchy, and if members find themselves saying it later, it is okay; they do not have to give me credit for it. I call it the Liberal loser plan.
The Liberal plan is a loser because it takes seats away from provinces including Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the maritime provinces, but it also makes a loser out of Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta because they are not getting fair representation. It takes the voices away from rural Canada and deposits them in urban Canada. It would take seats away from Manitoba, for example. I would be very interested to see the member go into rural parts of Manitoba and talk about how those people are going to lose representation in the House. That voice for agriculture, that voice for natural resource economies, that voice for rural infrastructure, that voice that speaks on behalf of wardens in rural municipalities, those voices are not going to be here any more because the Liberal Party would take those voices away.
In the province of Ontario, for example, we have very large ridings, especially in the 905 belt, some of which are represented by large representatives, as my colleague is pointing out. There are some very large population-based ridings. Those ridings would still be under-represented. A vote in that province would not carry the same weight as a vote would in other jurisdictions of the country.
I openly admit that the bill would still leave some regions somewhat overrepresented compared to others, but it would move the entire democratic system in this country in the right direction.
If we look at the Liberal plan, as my colleague from Wellington—Halton Hills has correctly pointed out, if I live in Saskatchewan, Manitoba or Quebec, I understand one thing from what the Liberal proposal is. In absolute terms it would reduce the number of voices that would represent my province, that would represent my rural part of the country, that would represent my cities in Ottawa. That means that amid all of the voices here, amid all of what goes on here, in absolute terms those regions of the country would have fewer representatives than they have today.
I represent a fairly large riding. By no means is it the largest in the country, but the population of my riding is roughly 126,000. Its population size is close to that of all four ridings in Prince Edward Island. By that math, a vote in the riding of Peterborough is worth about 25% of what a vote in Prince Edward Island is worth. We have understood that. It is okay. Our system is not perfect. We understand that we need to correct it.
Bill C-20 reduces the number of votes in each riding in the province of Ontario and it does so in a very fair and principled way, working off census figures. It makes sure, as I said earlier, that no province is actually going to lose representatives and it also maintains the proportional representation of the province of Quebec.
That is why, for example, only a few weeks ago when the bill was introduced, Liberal members said that they thought we got it right. The leader of the Liberal Party is on the record as saying that. Members currently in the House who are making some commentary while I am speaking are on the record as saying such. That is why the bill, when it was introduced, received the endorsement, largely, of governments right across the country. That is why Canadians are supportive of the bill.
I would argue that the Liberals are playing a little bit of cheap politics on this. They are saying that they will hold the number of seats in the House of Commons at the arbitrary figure of 308. There is nothing special about the number 308, other than it happens to be the number today, but it was not the number when some of the members across the way were elected. It was not the number when a number of great prime ministers of this country served. That number comes as a result of a formula that has been in place since 1867, which was later refined in the 1980s. That is where 308 comes from.
The longer the current formula is in place, the more the electoral system in Canada, representation by population that we espouse, the more that actually becomes stretched and the less it becomes in actual effect in this country.
It is critically important that we move in that direction. That is what Bill C-20 does. If we determine, as the Liberal Party has, that it should be an arbitrary number of 308, and we start taking seats away from some regions and depositing them in other regions while still not moving any of those regions to representation by population, it would simply be playing cheap politics.
The Liberals are saying it is not the right time to spend money. That is very interesting. They did not feel that way on the per vote subsidy. They thought the per vote subsidy should be maintained. They were not in favour of saving Canadians that money. I am sure my colleague from Elgin—Middlesex—London recalls that debate in the House. We almost had a coalition government over that with the various parties, including the Bloc Québécois.
Ultimately, we are here to discuss fair representation. The Liberal Party members are being somewhat presumptuous when they say that when we add more members of Parliament, it will cost x number of dollars, because they are simply taking that average, but there has been no determination in the House as to what savings can be found. I challenge members across the way. I receive a subsidy to account for the excessive number of folks that I represent compared to other ridings, but I should not expect that the subsidy would be continued if the total number of electors in my riding is in fact reduced, and I do not. I do not expect that at all. I expect efficiencies to be found in those areas.
I would simply note that this all comes back to fair representation. That is what it is about. That is why the Liberal premier of Ontario has said that he supports the government's plan for fair representation, not the plan put forward by the Liberal Party, not the proposal put forward by his Liberal cousins, and certainly not the plan put forward by the NDP, which would probably expand this House closer to 400 members. It would actually move us much farther away from actual representation by population in the country, because it is also quite arbitrary in how it is put together.
This is the best formula. It is quite simply the best formula to move all provinces toward fair representation in a reasonable and principled manner. There has to be a principle behind what we are doing when it comes to representation in this country.
The growth in the size of the House of Commons will be kept at a reasonable level. I should note that all efforts will be made to make sure that the cost of operations in the House are conscientiously maintained at a level that I believe Canadians support.
What I will never support is to reduce in absolute terms the number of voices that speak for rural Canada, the number of voices that speak for northern Canada, the number of voices that speak for places outside the large metropolitan areas. That is what the Liberal proposal would do. It would hurt farmers. It would hurt our natural resource economy. It would hurt our rural municipalities. It would make a loser out of every region and territory of this country. That is why it is a Liberal loser plan.
View Guy Caron Profile
NDP (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to speak to Bill C-7, An Act respecting the selection of senators and amending the Constitution Act, 1867 in respect of Senate term limits.
The NDP's position was clearly stated at the beginning of this debate. Since 1930, we have been in favour of abolishing the upper chamber for various reasons. This is a position that I believe is unanimous in New Democrat circles and that periodically comes up and is always reaffirmed at our conventions and meetings.
There are specific reasons for that, but first I would like to mention that we are not the only ones. The provinces are also in favour of flat out abolishing the Senate. Ontario, Nova Scotia and Manitoba have clearly spoken out in favour of doing so. With respect to Bill C-7 in particular, we know that Quebec has already looked into the possibility of contesting its constitutional validity in court.
What we have in front of us now could be considered a partial reform. It is not real reform of the Senate, but rather a modification of certain aspects. For example, the aspect that has to do with Senate terms. Right now, senators are appointed to the age of 75 or until the death of the senator, and that term would be reduced to nine years. Although the NDP is unanimously in favour of abolishing the Senate, there are some differences of opinion on the Conservative side, particularly among Conservative senators who have already shown some reservations about limits to their terms. Those senators were appointed recently. All members are aware that since the Conservatives took power in 2006 they have appointed 27 Conservative senators, which has given the Conservative Party a majority in the Senate.
We could talk about what the Liberals did before, and we may or may not agree with them. The fact remains that when there was a Liberal government, it was still possible that a non-Liberal senator would be appointed. That was the case in the past. The Liberals even appointed an NDP senator. Unfortunately, we asked her to give up her NDP designation because we do not support the Senate and are proposing that it be abolished. At least former Liberal governments provided some balance. But we are not seeing that same kind of balance with the Conservative government.
We talk a lot about the Senate being a chamber of sober second thought, a place where a different kind of reflection takes place, in comparison to the House of Commons. The members of the House of Commons know that all provincial senates have been abolished. No province has had a Senate since 1968. As far as I know, there have been no significant issues with passing laws at the provincial level since that time. Provinces do not have senates and, to be honest, they do not seem to be missing them. No provinces are requesting or calling for a provincial upper chamber. In looking at the provincial situation, I think that the NDP's position on the Senate is completely legitimate and is far from the Conservative position of wanting to keep the Senate. However, the Conservatives want to reform it. It is interesting to see how the Conservative opinion on the Senate has evolved.
There has been much talk—particularly during the era of the Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance—of the need for a triple–E Senate. Such a Senate, by its very nature and essence, would bear a much closer resemblance to the U.S. Senate as we know it, and that creates a few problems. If the bill were adopted as it stands, similar problems would arise. I will come back to the U.S. model, but I would first like to discuss two specific problems with the bill and the manner in which it provides for the election of senators at the provincial level, who would then be appointed by the Prime Minister.
The first problem has to do with legitimacy. If the provinces have no consistent process for the election of senators—and since the term being used is plebiscite rather than election—it would create a situation whereby, in certain provinces, no senators would be elected or selected in this way. That raises a problem of legitimacy. Those senators elected under one process might believe—and this would undoubtedly be the case—that they have greater legitimacy than those who are simply appointed by the Prime Minister without being subject to the procedure established by the provinces.
That would be problematic since the members of the Senate would not share the same understanding of the institution.
The second problem—and this is where the U.S. example is relevant—is that the Senate currently wishes to be perceived, if it does serve a purpose, as a place for sober second thought in response to bills adopted by the House of Commons. This sober second thought theoretically serves as a counterbalance to an overly populist reaction in the House and is intended to please a certain segment of the electorate without necessarily improving in any way on what the bill proposes.
In its current form—and I think that this has been evident over the last five years during which 27 new Conservative senators were appointed—there is no longer any sober second thought. The Senate no longer plays this role. The Senate, just like the House, polarizes political debate. I believe that the debate and political discourse in the House since 2006 have been much more polarized than in any previous era or decade. That is how things look nowadays in the Senate.
The Senate was intended to be a forum in which senators could adequately reflect upon the impact that bills may have on various facets of Canadian and Quebec society. The Senate no longer plays this role. Two bills have demonstrated this, including one we thought was particularly important. I refer to Bill C-311 on climate change and the establishment of clear standards and targets in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. The House of Commons and its committees held several debates. It was not the first time this bill had been introduced. The purpose of the bill was to ensure that Canada honoured its international commitments. After a number of attempts, the House of Commons finally adopted the bill. The unelected Senate, however, simply opposed the will of the House of Commons, in other words, the elected representatives of the Quebec and Canadian public. The objective was to polarize rather than to be effective. The Conservative government did not condemn this action as it should have, and undoubtedly would have, had a Liberal-dominated Senate stood in the way of one of its bills. When this occurred in the past, Conservative members led the charge in condemning the abuse of power of an unelected chamber pitting itself against the House of Commons.
My colleague from Winnipeg North raised the question: do Canadians and Quebeckers still want a Senate? It is an interesting and very relevant question, in my opinion. I propose therefore, as have a number of my colleagues, to ask Canadians and Quebeckers if they still want a Senate, and whether they believe the upper house still fulfils its role. Quite recently, in July, a poll was taken across Canada to determine whether Canadians wanted to vote on the existence of the Senate. Seventy-one per cent of Canadians, including Quebeckers, want a referendum in which they can vote on the issue. It is high time that we had this debate. In the same poll, 36 % of Canadians were in favour of abolishing the Senate. This is a significant increase compared to the previous year. It reflects public discontent with the role the Senate has played in recent years and the partisan appointments made by the Prime Minister.
Experience has clearly shown us that abolishing the provincial senates did not drastically affect how the provinces operate. In fact, a number of experts and constitutional jurists would say without a doubt that this perhaps even made it easier for the provinces, because there was no longer an unelected chamber able to interfere and undermine the will of publicly elected representatives. There is not a single province that would revisit the past and choose to bring back an unelected chamber.
We must be very careful about the Senate's mandate and about the direction we are currently taking to avoid having what we see in the United States. The suggestion was made by our colleague from the third party, and had already been made by the NDP. Let us have a real debate, let us include the Canadian public and let us have a referendum on this subject. Our position is clear: we are and will always be in favour of abolishing the Senate.
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