Senate reform in Canada

With the Mike Duffy trial figuring prominently in the news these days, The NDP is renewing calls for abolition of the Senate. Instead of outright abolition of the “House of sober second thought” perhaps a major restructuring should be considered. Here is one suggestion:

  • Reduce the size of the senate, so as to have one senator from each province or territory. The small number means that decisions can be arrived at by consensus (studies show that this is possible when committees are about 15 or less members);
  • Each province/territory appoints or elects its senator by a method of its own choosing;
    Senators serve for one year only;
  • During their year of service, they will have a leave of absence from their current employment, and be paid at the same rate as their current employment. Their salary as senator will be paid by their province or territory;
  • After their year of service, their previous job will be open for them to return to;
  • The federal government will pay senators’ reasonable expenses;
  • For one year prior to their year of service, they will “shadow” the current senator for their province or territory, in order to “learn the ropes” and find out what’s important to know. This “senator-elect” position would be unremunerated volunteer work.

I believe that the above may accomplish multiple goals, including reduced costs, and could get buy-in from the provinces.

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