The Canadian Senate Quagmire

In the last few weeks, the Canadian Senate had been almost daily in the news. Interest in this institution especially by the media had never been greater since many years.

However, the question of senate reform is something that both three major parties are not keen to tackle.


For the Tories, even with their long lasting pledge to reform this institution which is still very popular with the grassroots of the party, the party had dome the same thing that the Liberals have done for decades which is to use the Senate as a chamber of patronage. Even if people like Mike Duffy or Pamela Wallin are household names in their respective domain,  their lack of judgment was apparent as they had taken the Senatorial gravy train. To put it this way, the base is angry right now and is getting very impatient. 

For the Liberals, the situation is not better. Senators nominated while the Liberals were in power also had their fair share of shady dealings (take Raymond Lavigne or Mac Harb for example). However, as party leader, Justin Trudeau had done a massive mistake a few days ago by saying that he was against senate reform (or abolition) because it would give less power to Eastern and Central Canada. Basically, with a comment like that, Trudeau is playing a risky divide to conquer game like his father which is to put one region of Canada versus an another. 

The NDP had always been skeptical to the whole institution of the Senate and want to abolish it. Easier said than done. It’s quite normal to have this position when your party was never in power and never had the chance to hand pick senators. However, as a political party with a very centralist party structure (provincial wings of the party are directly connected to the federal wing), the party is playing a double game. Take the example of the Nova Scotia NDP. As they are currently in power in this province, they would probably never accept any senatorial reform if Nova Scotia will have a lesser power then right now in the upper house.

In conclusion, is the Canadian Senate the elephant in the room for both three major parties in Canadian politics. Very few know how this will finish out at the end.



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