A bill introduced by the B.C. government Wednesday to hold Senate elections is an awful idea.
In a strange bit of politics, the government acknowledged as it tabled the bill, it will not pass anyway. The legislature will adjourn before the bill is considered.
So why bother? By introducing the bill, the government can show British Columbians how electing a senator might work, said Justice Minister Shirley Bond.
Bond doesn't seem to understand many of us don't want senators at all any more - elected or appointed.
And, in fact, this bill could only make the upper house more of a
problem than it is now.
Electing a B.C. senator, or more technically a nominee for the prime minister to appoint, risks giving some members of the upper house legitimacy and credibility they do not deserve.
The Senate is currently a much-criticized, and largely ineffective, body because of its appointed membership. But elected members might be entitled to believe they have the public approval to wield their Senate powers more effectively. That's not a change we want to make.
The old Reform party cry was for an elected, equal and effective Senate. Moving ahead with elections without implementing the other two reforms will just further entrench all the
other things that are wrong with the upper house.
In fact, since those old Reform days, even Western Canadians have lost their desire for an effective Senate.
The reality is complicated Senate
reform will never gain enough provincial support to succeed, but abolishing the Senate is a now a
realistic constitutional goal.
As Senate scandals convince more Canadians and their leaders to
support abolition of the upper house, B.C.'s government should jump on the bandwagon by officially proposing such a constitutional amendment.
- City Editor Pat Bulmer