Wednesday, November 02, 2016

History of Senate reform

Well, I did not get my seat in the Senate in the recent cycle of appointments. (Not that I had applied, but that probably would not have affected the odds.)  Neither did you. Writers, historians, scholars, artists, and cultural figures generally are pretty thin on the list of new independent senators.

Actually there's an exception, but it kinda proves the rule.  Art historian Pat Bovey of Manitoba was appointed, but like all the other appointees,she has a long resume as an administrator, having been director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery  and sitting on a whole slew of boards and advisory committees. That's the thing all the new appointees seem to have in common; they all seem apolitical and unideological, but pretty familiar with government service, with regulatory service, with boards and commissions.

Hard to complain about administrative experience, but one wonders if it makes for a bland, civil-service mentality Senate, probably largely in tune (despite official independence) with the hip-to-the-trend but centrist view of this government.  Remember those commissions of ordinary citizens that the provinces used to create to study electoral reform.  They always used to vote 97% in favour of whatever their expert advisors told them to do.

Tricky thing, getting a Senate that is independent of government yet weak, respectful of its limited role yet more than a bland rubber-stamp.  These informal changes are proving kinda interesting.
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