Get local leaders on to federal senate

Tuesday, April 7 2015

In elementary school, across the country, we teach and were taught that the federal senate is a place where federal proposals are given a second so-called sober look before being made law.

In reality, as we age and become more cynical (some might say better informed) we realize the senate is less a place of sobriety and more a place where patrons of the government are rewarded with a cushy job and tax-funded pension.

Suspended Senator for Prince Edward Island Mike Duffy will be in court this week, facing over 30 charges of breach of trust, fraud over and under $5,000, bribery and fraud on the government.

Yes. That sounds like someone who should be giving a second look-over of whatever the current government is trying to sneak past the legions of journalists, political scientists, policy makers and everyone else who follows the happenings on Ottawa.

Perhaps the theory was along the lines of it takes a thief to capture one.

There have been calls for senate reform and disbandment for a very long time. Those who support keeping the Senate defend its existence with what we are taught - it is part of a check and balance with what the House of Commons brings in to play.

Here’s another issue: there is a widening disconnect between federal policy downloading on to the provinces, who then download responsibilities on to the local governments.

Perhaps we, as a nation, could reverse the flow.

Rather than electing our senate, we could instead put locally elected leaders in to the Senate seats.

One might ask, how could we possibly choose from the thousands of elected officials in BC a lucky few to represent our province? And then do the same in the other nine provinces and three territories.

The solution: The Union of BC Municipalities. Or whatever version each province has of it. There would also need to be representation for First Nations. Obviously there would need to be a lot more organizing than is immediately summarized here. We’d have to ensure the BC representation is from a wider scope than just the Lower Mainland or southern Vancouver Island, as one example.

But the theory is: already-elected local officials, through their own established organizations, able to then represent their part of the country when the federal government attempts to pass legislation. We wouldn’t keep them there for life - only as long as their elected terms. We still want them having to answer to their local constituents every four years.

And we’d avoid such sticky questions like making sure if a Senator had even, at any recent point in time, visited or taken up residence in the area he supposedly represents.

Sounds like a pretty good deal, can’t get worse than the current system.
And just imagine, your locally-elected representatives, getting to take a look at the Prime Minister's latest Bill and say, "Hmmm....interesting. But no. And here a few reasons why....."