Our Scandalous Senate
The Senate of Canada, as an unelected, unaccountable, and unnecessary legislative body, was described more than half a century ago by John Turner as “a functionless oddity.” In Our Scandalous Senate Patrick Boyer brings that analysis up to date.
The second house was created as a temporary expedient at the time of Confederation, offered during negotiations to entice several colonial provinces into the new political union in 1867. Since then, provinces with upper houses have all abolished them. New provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan) were established free of redundant second legislative chambers. Only Parliament in Ottawa is still stuck with its colonial relic, costly to maintain and out of step with the values of a modern democratic country. The Senate of Canada, routinely rocked by corruption and scandal, rightly disturbs Canadians. But the real national scandal is the very existence of the Senate itself.
The idea that senators provide “sober second thought” to legislation enacted in the Commons is shown to be more fiction than fact in a number of ways. Moreover, the institutional relationship has been changed since introduction in the Constitution of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which makes the Supreme Court of Canada, not the senate, the effective forum for clear and dispassionate consideration of parliamentary enactments. In the past decade, measures of the Harper Government, passed by the senate, were later struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.
“There may be no more important book on Canadian politics published this year – or perhaps this decade.” – Roy MacGregor, author of Canadians: A Portrait of a Country and Its People
Publisher: Dundurn, 2014
Category: Senate of Canada, corrupt practices, legislators, absence of accountability, politics
Price: $24.99, Canada and U.S.A.
Format: Paperback, 387 pages, 6 x 9 in