Edmonton - Thursday, September 8, 2002 - by: Ron Thornton

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With an appointed and fairly ineffective rubber-stamping Senate comprised of hockey players, musicians, and retired politicians, one would think it would make sense to simply board up the place. In a land less diversified and spread out regionally than Canada, I might agree. However, the way folks think in British Columbia, Alberta, or Saskatchewan is in marked contrast to how people view things in Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. Our provinces were founded at different times, under different circumstances, by different people of different origins. In fact, we share different histories and philosophies.




With such diversities, Canada needs a national institution where those differences can be given a hearing, and with equal weight. It sure can not be found in a House of Commons, where its 301 seats are dominated by 178 Ontario and Quebec Members of Parliament. It won't be found within our present appointed Senate, dominated as it is by 48 central Canadian Senators, where Nova Scotia and New Brunswick dominate the Maritimes with ten each while Prince Edward Island is left with four, and where five other provinces make do with six Senators apiece while one is reserved for each of our three territories.


Such a national institution can be found in the United States, where each of its fifty states has two seats in its Senate. It can be found in Australia where each of their states has a dozen Senators, with the two territories each with a pair. While the more populous states dominate their respective House of Representatives, their Senates are elected, equal, and effective thereby protecting the less populated states from subservience to the majority. In fact, the U.S. Senate is also empowered to approve selections to the Supreme Court, Cabinet, and other executive appointments, providing an effective balance of power to those held by their nation‚s leader. This is certainly not the case in Canada.


Our Prime Minister is effectively a one-man dictatorship, the leader of the party that happens to control a majority of the House of Commons. Ontario and Quebec are the keys to power, and neither of those provinces have any desire to give up their federal stranglehold in order to share power with their "junior" partners. So, when an issue with major repercussions for the west arises, this lack of political recourse causes some to believe a solution would be to "simply" disassociate themselves from the rest of Canada and go it alone. If you ask them what that might accomplish, their first answer might be that it would disassociate them from 155 Liberal MP's and the people who continually elect them.


Without the legitimacy of elected Senators representing our province on an equal footing with their peers so that they might voice our concerns effectively, we are merely politically impotent pawns to the majority.


Ron Thornton

  Comparing the Austrailian & Canadian Parliaments



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