Hon. Sinclair Stevens, P.C.
Progressive Canadian Party takes up Harper challenge for better Senate Reform
For Immediate Release July 30, 2015:
Newmarket, Ontario - The Hon. Sinclair Stevens, Leader of the Progressive Canadian (PC) party, took up Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s challenge to provinces and others to come up with better, constitutionally acceptable Senate reform proposals.
Mr. Harper has declared a moratorium on prime ministers’ nominations for Senate appointments by the Governor General of Canada until it is reformed. Prime ministers have been nominating candidates to the GG for some time. The practice has become a convention within the constitution. Some believe that the PM makes Senate appointments based on their qualifications. However, recent appointments appear to have been made for party and sectarian provincial interest.
“Progressive Conservatives understood that the Senate is a check on the prime minister and cabinet government and on excesses of electoral partisanship and provincial sectarianism, as intended at Confederation. We enshrined this understanding as Guiding Principles for Senate Reform at our National Policy Convention in 2000 and reaffirmed them at the PC Democratic Reform Convention in 2002.
Today’s PCs take this a step further.” Stevens said. “We propose that future nomination of senate candidates to the GG shall come from the non-partisan Queen’s Privy Council, instead of from the Prime Minister alone.”
The PC Party proposal fulfils the need for change able to meet the constitutional requirements for regional representation in an Upper Chamber. It is selected for knowledge and ability to serve as a revising chamber of government legislation, or “sober second thought”.
“As a member of the Queen’s Privy Council I am aware of the privilege and duty we have historically to advise the monarch through Her representative the Governor General of Canada. These are powers rarely used by the Queen’s Privy Council meeting in full assembly but exist within the constitution.”
Mr. Stevens noted that our problems today seem to centre on the partisanship of a prime minister who for the first time in Canadian history makes nominations only of people who “pledge” to pass his government’s legislation. Many recent appointments are clear patronage. This abandons the Senate’s duty to review and revise government legislation within the constitution. Mr. Harper has said he will only make appointments if the Senate is reformed to elect senators accountable to individual provinces. That would build firewalls around each province against Canada and the House of Commons instead of representing all Canadians equally by protecting minority interests.
“Progressive Canadians propose to reform Senate nominations within the constitution by allowing a quorum of the full Queen’s Privy Council to advise the GG on the basis of the personal excellence and knowledge of governance of the candidates.” Mr. Stevens concluded.
For more information contact:
The Hon. Sinclair Stevens,
Leader, PC Party
NOTES: The Queen’s Privy Council consists of current and former prime ministers, cabinet ministers, Supreme Court Chief Justices, former speakers of the House of Commons and Senate, former governors general, invited current and former premiers and distinguished individuals, and members of the royal family.