I am pleased to share with you my thoughts on a topic which has garnered many headlines lately; namely the Canadian Senate. In the face of the suspension of Senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, an increasing number of Canadians are calling for the abolition of the Senate.
The Senate is an institution which was first established in 1867. In simple terms, the Senate’s role and function as I understand it is four-fold: (1) to review and revise legislation, (2) to investigate matters of interest to the whole of the Country, (3) represent the various geographic regions, and (4) be a protector of linguistics and minorities. The misdeeds of a small clutch of Senators has not diminished the need for the Canadian Senate. The increasingly partisanship atmosphere of the House of Commons is proof positive of the need to preserve the Senate; regardless of the behavior of a few overreaching and selfish individuals.
In addition, to the Senate’s primary roles, it is a body which has effectively represented the interests of the diverse Provinces and Territories which constitute our Great Country. The accomplishments of the majority of law abiding Senators, who work tirelessly on Committees, need to be celebrated, not denigrated.
Eugene Lang, a BMO Visiting Fellow, at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, Glendon College, York University correctly opined recently in the Toronto Star that “Some Senate Committees – the committee on banking, trade and commerce, the national finance committee, the committee on social affairs, science and technology, for example – have enriched public policy thinking, sparked debate on important issues, and helped improve legislation in a way few House of Commons committees have in many years.”
It would be wise to view the Senate through more objective eyes, rather than subjective ones. Seldom are wise decisions made in anger and haste. While it is understandable to be “angry” at Brazeau, Duffy and Wallin for their reprehensible behavior, it would be inexcusable and foolhardy to punish all Senators and ultimately Canadians in response. What’s the saying…don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Indeed.