Canada: Politics: Prime Minister proposes 1st step toward an elected Senate - limitation of appointees to one term of 8 years
Globe and Mail's reporter Brian Laghi in an article "Harper hopes to elect Senators by next ballot" (May30,2k6) outlines clearly Prime Minister Stephen Harper's 2-step plan for his present term in office, regarding Canada's Senate. The first step he envisions is one he hopes all three opposition parties can endorse and for which they will overwhelmingly cast favourable votes. In the context of his promise not to make any further appointments on the present basis (which has only two preconditions - a.) the appointed Senator's tenure would be for-life, b.) unless she/he shall reaches the age of 75, when mandatory retirement now comes into effect); in contrast, the Prime Minister would initially only restrict the term of subsequent appointments, to a single term of 8 years. That would mean, were a Liberal government to replace his Conservative minority government in the next Federal Canadian elections, the Libs would then face only the constraints of this first step of term limitation. Harper reasons that even the Libs would vote in favour of this proposal.
Harper's next step, when the time is ripe but not over-ripe, would be the presentation of a further proposal for an elected Senate, with no additional appointees at all. This would be much more difficult to pass in the House of Commons as presently constituted. Nobody knows for sure what the present Senate chockful of appointees would do with the legislation proposed and to be proposed in either step, but generally they follow the lead of their Leader in the Commons.
A few further details are available in a Canadian Press article I found unfortunately in Maclean's (coming via Norman's Spectator, an article by Joan Bryden. (If you can get to her piece with the foregoing URL, you'll be doing much better than I in my first effort to get to her info. I had to bypass a direct approach from Norman's site where I initially found a linked path that ended in futliity (thanks, Norman for the warning! on your link to the awful bad ad - I say with irony!), and then exhausted I had to go to Google where I was able to get another URL and thus another path for the same Bryden article ... in the meantime, before I came up with the bypass strategy, I had to sit thru an interminable obscene-capitalist flash-movie ad for an obscene gas-guzzling automobile ... the "skip" button on the ad page was a complete fraud that refused to respond to the dozen or so clicks I made attempting to use that button, so the ad neatly skipped its cue to "skip" (thanks ever so much, Norman, for the warning!) ... which lowered my diminishing respect for the mag even further, but thanks ever so much and a Hat Tip to you, Norman).
Bryden puts the Senate two-step in the context of the Prime Minister's immediately preceding proposal regarding a fixed election date for the House of Commons, which presumably will then also be applicable to his Senate proposals:
Stephen Harper has begun rolling out his democratic reform program, with a bill to set fixed federal election dates and a constitutional amendment to limit new senators to eight-year terms.Then Bryden let's the proverbial cat out of the bag, "Current senators will continue to sit until age 75." Surely, this is not a promise limiting future legislation. Surely, Bryden means to say, and the government means to propose, only that this Senate reform step #1 will not touch the rascals. Indeed, I now understand why the Western provinical premiers, 3 to 4, would prefer the utter abolition of the Senate. But, sad to admit, the words did form in my mind, as a reaction to the prospect Bryden's report sets in motion ... throw the rascals out! All these appointees should do the "Right Honourable" thing, and resign of their own accords. The sooner the better.
Under legislation introduced Tuesday, general elections would be held every four years on the third Monday in October. It's aimed at taking the politics out of election timing by ensuring a prime minister doesn't call a vote based on when he thinks he can win.
The Conservative government said the Senate proposal - which involves a constitutional amendment - is a "very modest first step" toward delivering on the prime minister's promise to democratize the unelected upper chamber.
But these are not the only stormfronts brewing against the Prime Minister's noble multi-step program leading to an elected House of Commons and Senate with term limitations. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, wants abolition of the Senate because he feels small provinces will disproportionately get more representation in the Senate than will large-population provinces like Ontario and Quebec. But Ontario already dominates the Commons, along with Quebec, and that friction marginalizes all the other provinces. In sharp contrast to McGuinty, I support all of the Prime Minister's proposals - plus national proportional represenation in the Commons, and province-by-province equal representation in the Senate, with the proviso that each province shall elect its set of Senators according to some formula of proprep determined by Federal legislation. If each province gets four Senators, say, each provincial set elected on one Senatorial-election occasion for that province at regular intervals, then a province-by-province proprep formula would be workable. Not all provinces need elect their set in the same round of Federal Canadian elections. - Politicarp
Good historical background for reform of Cdn Senate up to 1990, but its slant is obvious and obnoxious
Proportional Representation (PropRep)
Triple E Senate