Shocking revelations from the Senate (h/t the Hill Times), and it’s another scandal, but one that’ll only upset upper-level Conservative and Liberal operatives. Instead of another spending scandal or the classic case of lame duck Senators doing nothing, Senators are spending their own money on actually doing something: reforming the Senate.
Liberal and Conservative Senators are working together (take note of the emphasis, this is a big deal), to put together a comprehensive proposal to reform the Senate from within. The cherry on top is that all the reforms are promised to be fully constitutional, and not require provincial consent.
What’s really interesting (more so than a rogue band of Senators working together) is that they’re doing this without the consent of the leadership of either party, or the Speaker. After four secret meetings at hotel rooms and restaurants throughout Ottawa (which the Senators in question paid for out of their own pockets), they are ready to put together a committee to review it. Liberal Paul Massicotte, the Senator from De Lanaudière, Quebec, and the leader of the group, sent an email in March trying to assemble a rag-tag team to restore confidence in the disgraced institution.
When parliament resumes in September, the group of Senators hopes to put together a more formal committee with 15 members, in order to enact the reforms. While all of this is still super secret, from emails obtained by the Hill Times we have an idea of the reforms on the table:
- Abolishing the Senate Question Period;
- Restructuring all Senate committees;
- Ending all partisanship in the Senate;
- Electing the next Senate Speaker.
As well, New Brunswick Liberal Sen. Pierrette Ringuette tabled a “Proposal to Transform the Senate of Canada,” in April, which would do much of the same (though not as extreme) in addition to televising all Senate proceedings. You may even be able to watch the money disappear as it is embezzled.
Well, the story’s out now, so it’s only a matter of time before the party leadership finds out about this secret plot for senate reform. The sad truth of parliamentary reform is that the parties will only use it to badger the opposition, be it Harper trying to enshrine a legacy of reform or Trudeau expelling Senators from his caucus to try to score political points. Whether the upper party brass is willing to reduce the power and partisanship of the Senate remains to be seen. At this rate, maybe one day we’ll be able to expect our Senators to get along, rather than be shocked by it.