Supreme Court’s Senate decision notable for all the wrong reasons

Justin Crann
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There is nothing momentous about the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on the Senate.

Justin Crann

Hailed as a landmark ruling, it was quite the opposite: instead of encouraging the brand of reform the upper house requires to function correctly, it has almost unquestionably shut the door on it.

An archaic institution will be allowed to continue to function unchecked and the status quo will remain, at least until the federal government can get the seven-and-50 (seven provinces, 50 per cent of the population) majority it needs to support reform.

This inspite of opinion polls from a mix of sources showing clear interest in change — including, according to a Globe and Mail report citing an Angus Reid poll from 2013, a 40 per cent interest in reform and 37 per cent interest in abolition.

A landmark ruling would have been one that opened the door to what so many Canadians want: a fairer body more representative of the Canada of today and bound by term limits and elections; or, failing that, the outright abolition of the institution.

I, for one, stand in the former camp. I do believe the Senate serves its purpose, and has quashed bad ideas in the past, just enough so to make it valuable.

I believe Canadians should have a serious look at the make up of the institution, which affords far too much power to Quebec, Ontario and in particular the Maritimes, and far too little to Western Canada.

I also believe changes need to be brought in to prevent the Senate from continuing to exist as a hyper-partisan body filled with beneficiaries of patronage appointments.

There is no question that the Senate, as it presently exists, is broken.

It unfairly affords power to the wrong people in the wrong proportions, ultimately undermining its own purpose as detailed in the Constitution.

Again, Friday’s hasty ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada is no landmark decision.

It’s tacit approval of a failing institution to continue in its disappointingly ineffective way.

Justin Crann can be reached at 306-691-1265 or follow him on Twitter @J_Crann

Organizations: Supreme Court of Canada, Globe and Mail

Geographic location: Western Canada, Quebec, Ontario

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