The Canadian Senate: Chamber of Sober Reflection or Loony Cousin Best Not Talked About

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Abstract:

The Canadian Senate has been the object of much debate and scorn. An appointed body, the Senate has never successfully fulfilled its original purposes, namely to be a voice for regional and propertied interests. Its anti-democratic foundations have made the Senate easy prey for public cynicism, despite the fact that its appointed members are more reflective of the Canadian population than the elected members of House of Commons. There have been many attempts at Senate reform in the past quarter-century, none of which have been implemented. This article argues that most attempts at Senate reform have failed because they have been linked to larger constitutional reform packages. The best hope for change to the structure of the Senate lies in smaller, incremental moves that do not require amending the Canadian constitution.

Keywords: Canadian parliament; senate reform; upper houses

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/714003922

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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