Monday, May 29, 2006

Dangers of an Elected Senate

Ignoring my crazed premonitions of disaster, Stephen Harper committed to an elected senate in Victoria last week. He also committed to fixed election dates, and more MPs for BC.

Fruits and Votes has all the good poli sci objections to "strong bicameralism in a parliamentary system." It makes for brutal reading, especially if you are Gough Whitlam. The bottom line is the elected Senate makes trouble and fouls up accountability.

But, in Canada, there are additional problems arising out of our precarious ethnic/linguistic/regional issues. Under the current dispensation, British Columbia, for instance, is woefully under-represented on any theory. (And, as Harper made clear, he didn't come to Victoria to tell BC it should be woefully under-represented). But changing to rep-by-pop or rep-by-province (Triple E, as we say in Canadian) are both unacceptable. Triple-E means Quebec is outnumbered 9-1. It also means that small provinces with major dependence on federal subsidies will form a majority in one house, not something Albertans can look on with composure. Harper is sponsoring a no-win regionalist food fight for no apparent reason.

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