Hold a Senate referendum


It’s time for a national plebiscite!

Now that the Supreme Court has sent our hearts aflutter with the daring move to say exactly what everyone expected them to say, it’s time we throw caution to the wind and hold a good ol’ national referendum on the future of our bubbling cesspool that we call a Senate.

The Supreme Court has polished the giant statue that’s been facing us since time immemorial — to reform the appointing of Senators, you need the consent of seven provinces, comprising at least half the population; to abolish the damn thing, you need unanimous consent from the premiers.

And given that trying to herd the ever-changing field of provincial leaders is like leading cats into a river, Ottawa oughta sidestep them altogether and take it to the streets.

Because the complete paralysis that comes along with trying to rope divergent political personalities onto a single course of action on the Senate is just not going to happen.  The people, however, seem to be a little more decided on the issue.  And for those that aren’t: we’ll have a whole national campaign in order to help them decide.

Now I know what you’re thinking: this will be really hard.

And you’re right!  Because running a country is frigging difficult.

Which is why sometimes our politicians should sometime have to work at things to do stuff.

Given that the Senate has fundamentally undercut any trust whatsoever we have in the Upper Chamber, it’s perhaps for the best that we don’t tell the public: no, dont worry, weve got this covered.

If we’re looking to get people re-invested in the democratic process, I’m not sure that drawing the curtain and sweeping the stage is the way to do it.

I rather suspect that the Harper Government — long champions of a plan to elect Senators that was dead on arrival — would rather like to finally take a real crack at reform, or abandon their untenable and unpopular plan and simply burn the bastard down.

And we all know that the Dippers are just chomping at the bit to dump pink slips in the Senate mail chute.

Then there’s Trudeau, who would probably relish the opportunity to sell his made-up version of the status quo.

rob ford AD #1

So let’s hop to it, boys, and duke it out in the public arena.  No more posturing, no more cartwheels and glossy leaflets.  Put your money where your mouth is.

The referendum, of course, wouldn’t be necessarily be binding — it would be merely instructive to the premiers, in any negotiations they have with the federal government.

And my, wouldn’t that be nice?  A chance for the people to give politicians their direct marching orders.

I suspect that if the government really were a keener, it could amend the Referendum Act, permitting Ottawa to hold the referendum in time with the next general election.

To this end, the Senate Reference isn’t necessary a loss for the Harper Government.  In a way, it may be liberating.  A chance to shake the yoke of inauspicious stars from the Prime Minister’s world-wearied flesh, and put to bed once and for all the question of what to do with the geriatric Parliamentarians.

And it’s a boon for Mulcair: a chance to finally shovel coal in the furnace and get this ironclad steaming towards destruction.

For Trudeau, it’s a ball teed up — a chance to appeal to normalcy, and to paint the others as drunks at the wheel.  The voice of calm, dispassionate, boring reason.

Or we could just continue to sit in front of the television and eat ice cream from the carton, pretending like Uncle Peter isn’t standing on the front porch with his suitcase, waiting for someone to tell him if he’s allowed to stay until he works things out with Aunt Jo-Anne.

Rather than turning off the lights, closing the curtains and skulking around the house, maybe we should just open the damn door and deal with the issue once and for all.



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Follow Justin Ling on twitter: @Justin_Ling


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