Friday, March 03, 2006

Senate reform and Ontario: Some Food for Thought

A tidbit to chew on while I think through a more detailed post on Stephen Harper and Senate reform.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is musing openly about the abolition of the Senate, arguing that Ontario is underrepresented in that body. Funny, I thought that was the whole point of the Senate - to act as a counter-weight to the representation by population in the House of Commons. Mind you, if Stephen Harper is thinking of electing that body, he should bear in mind that the compromise of stronger regional representation in the Senate was only acceptable because its powers would be quite weak - see Christopher Moore's 1867: How the Fathers Made a Deal for an excellent discussion of this.

What is particularly interesting about McGuinty's statement is that just over a decade ago, it was Ontario Premier Bob Rae who put forth the proposal of reducing Senate representation to 6 Senators per province, with the seats lost by Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia compensated for through additional members in the House of Commons. This proposal made it into the ill-fated Charlottetown Accord of 1992.

Funny isn't it, to see the same province arguing such different positions in such a short time frame.

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