There was little agreement among representatives of the four major Canadian parties in a debate about the relevance and future of the Canadian senate organized by the Centre for broadcast on CPAC, the parliamentary television channel.
Conservative Senator Hugh Segal argued that the Senate does useful work, but, as an appointed body, is weakened by its lack of legitimacy. Senator Segal supports the Conservative government’s legislation, now before parliament, to select senators through consultative elections and limit the terms of senators to eight years.
Liberal Senator James S. Cowan, although not opposed to the idea of an elected Senate, argued against the government’s current approach to reform on the ground that a change of this kind can only be made through a constitutional amendment.
The other two participants in the debate, MP Nicole Demers from the Bloc Quebecois and MP David Christopherson, of the New Democratic Party, both challenged the premise that the Senate is a useful institution and argued that it should be abolished.
The full debate, as originally broadcast on CPAC, is now available as streaming video on CPAC's website.
For more information about the debate, or to share your thoughts on Senate reform, please visit "Debate on Senate Reform" on Facebook.
Funding for this project was provided by the Aurea Foundation.