Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wingnuts with doubts about senate reform

Senate reform has always been largely a right-wing agenda.  The Triple E proposal was always code for a Triple R Senate (rich, rural, reactionary): an upper house designed to be unrepresentative of the population, but with real power to confront the more representative House of Commons.  Some progressives have been susceptible to the idea of  elected and equal -- "Hey, those ought to be good progressive things, no?"  but the NDP has been pretty steady in preferring abolition over reform.

But there has also been a subcurrent of conservative opinion that recognizes what a dumb idea a powerful Senate is.  Here's more:
If you want perpetual gridlock in Ottawa, go ahead and beef up the Senate. Make it elected, give it a cause and a swelled head. Let it think it’s been chosen by provincial voters to bring a new sense of regional clout to the federal capital. Give premiers a new ally to support their constant demands for special treatment for their particular corner of the world, even if the demands of one region put it at odds with those from another. Enhance their ability to slow, or stop, anything that smells like it might, in any way, diminish their own parochial interests, no matter how desirable it may be on a national level.  
The confederation makers had the right idea: for them, the most important thing about the Senate was that it be weak. Say whatever else you say about it, it has fulfilled that requirement pretty well.

Rejection of Senate reform was a reliable western-alienation complaint.  Now they are in power, the doubts may emerge more loudly
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