The Senate provides parliament with a “sober” second thought
1. Between 2000 and 2015, 31 bills that were introduced to the Senate were amended. This means that on 31 different occasions during this time period, the senators were doing their job and providing the second thought. As a result of the Senate, better laws have been passed that benefits Canadians. During this period there was also a shifting balance of power in the House of Commons between the parties. This shows that when the House of Commons experiences “bumps in the road,” the Senate has and will continue to add value and has been nonpartisan and is likely to continue to provide parliament with a sober second thought and should therefore be retained
2. An example of just one the many bills that have benefited from the Senate includes law C-10. In 2012 the House of Commons put forward the Safe Streets and Communities Act (known as law C-10) and this act was eventually passed with 6 amendments, ensuring that this law was fair and reasonable and well crafted. Had the Senate not been already been abolished, (?) this law might have been passed, despite being flawed.
3. There is proof that the independence and sobering 2nd thought of the Senate has been evident on numerous occasions. For instance, between the years 2001 and 2006, 62.5% of recorded votes in the Senate included at least 1 Senator voting against their party position. This demonstrated the independence of the Senate and is further reason why the Senate should be retained.
The Second point I will be talking about today is the fact that the Senate and those who are part of it is responsible for many jobs.
1) It can often seem that the Senate is only responsible for agreeing with the proposed bills from the House of Commons. This is false. Not only does the Senate provide a sober second thought to new laws, it also provides an investigative role in undertaking studies on important social and political issues. Committees within the Senate are responsible for dealing with specific national issues. These issues include but are not limited to Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Aboriginals Peoples, Human Rights, Fisheries and Oceans and National Security and Defense. If the Senate is abolished who will be responsible for providing these valuable services?
2) The Senate is beneficial to Canadian parliament in that it enriched public policy thinking and sparks debate on important issues.
3) Along with all these other jobs, the Senate also acts as a non-ideological routine revising chamber that picks up flaws in legislation, which has already passed through the House of Commons. These bills may be considered appropriate but be poorly written or have loopholes which they may negatively affect the implantation of the law. This valuable review ensures that laws are well constructed and more easily implemented
The Senate structure helps to ensure that Minority interests and groups such as aboriginals, who are generally under represented in the House of Commons, are suitably represented in government. For example, 3 of 105 senators are reserved for Nunavut, North West territories and Yukon while the House of Commons reserves only 3 of 338 seats for these regions. The House of Commons represents the popular electorate and is therefore dominated by people who represent the thinking and interests of the majority population. Minority groups and their interests could easily be ignored in this type of system. The Senate creates an environment where their voices can be heard and hence should be retained.
The Structure and make-up of the Senate is designed to ensure a balance in representation amongst not only minority and majority group but also amongst each region of Canada. The Senate make up is not designed around population size but rather based on a system where seats are evenly distributed to give the regions equal representation. The structure of the senate therefore ensures that all regions have an opportunity to have their voices heard in the creation of new laws. This ensures a balanced and fair set of laws.
The Senate system also allows for specific areas within a province to be chosen by senators as their senatorial designation, ensuring better connection to the population and cultural distinctiveness. This allows for Senators to assess regions and areas that require representation and to build a relationship with them, unlike the conventional voting system where a large number of people select a representative in parliament and the person selected is expected to serve their interests in parliament – which could be at the expense of certain regions or areas.
So in conclusion allow me to sum up the views of the opposition on this issue.
The Canadian Senate is beneficial for Canada and even crucial since they provide a sober second thought to parliament, provide not only regions but also minority groups equal representation and are responsible for many important jobs that benefit Canada as a nation. I hope it now clear why the resolution before this house must, and surely will, fall.