Senate letter

senateSent the following letter the Canada post kind to all the newly appointed Senators.

Reform of Senate membership (by custom and precedence)

Province / Territory

% of voters

Population

Equal

# of Senators

British Columbia

13.03%

4

3

7 (6)*

Alberta

10.89%

4

3

7 (6)*

Saskatchewan

2.98%

1

3

4

Manitoba

3.41%

1

3

4

Ontario

37.29%

12

3

15

Quebec

24.86%

8

3

11

New Brunswick

2.31%

1

3

4

Nova Scotia

2.87%

1

3

4

PEI

0.44%

0

3

3

Newfoundland

1.62%

1

3

4

Yukon

0.10%

0

1

1

NWT

0.11%

0

1

1

Nunavut

0.07%

0

1

1

Total

33

33

66 (64)*

*BC & Alberta limited to a maximum of 6 seats

House advisory council

Party

Liberal

Cons

NDP

Bloc

Green

Ind

Seats

184

99

44

10

1

0

Council

301

223

128

21

2

1

% Council

45%

33%

19%

3%

0.3%

0.1%

The House advisory council consists of the top two candidates in the last election for each riding. The Liberals are brought down to near their percent of the popular vote as a percentage on the council. The Conservatives and NDP are right on their percent popular vote. The Bloc is 3% to 6% and the Greens are just 0.3% on council to a 3% popular vote.

A reform of the Senate membership changed to 66 senators. Each province is granted 3 seats in the Senate with the three northern territories having one each for a total territorial representation equal to a province. This gives you 33 seats with a further 33 seats awarded to the 11 regions on the bases of population. Half the Senate membership of 66 is based on equal representation and the other half on population. When a seat goes vacant the top two candidates in a riding in that province or territory nominate someone for appointment. All the nominees go to a yes or no secret ballot vote of the House Advisory Council. It takes an absolute 2/3 majority (451) to get confirmed. If more then one gets the required vote then the one with the most is appointed. Membership is for 25 years or age 75 after which a senator becomes a senator emeritus. These senators can attend and speak in chamber but can’t sit on any subsidiary body and have no vote. When a senator retires to this position their seat as a voting senator is vacated. To start the membership all current senators stay as long as it doesn’t exceed the number of senators for that province or territory. Any in excess then the most junior senators voluntary resign their seats. Also any who have been there 25 years become a senator emeritus.

The Speaker of the Senate is appointed not on the advice of the PM of the day but a 2/3-majority vote of the Senate by secret ballot. By custom and precedence the Speaker doesn’t speak or vote in the chamber and by Senate rules a tie vote is a no vote. The Speaker also doesn’t serve on any committee. The Speaker serves until retirement, death, or removal. The most senior senator who accepts becomes Deputy speaker of the Senate. This person must be confirmed by a 2/3-majority vote by secret ballot.

The membership of the 18 standing committees is determined as follows. At the start of each Parliament the Senate elects by secret ballot the chairman and deputy chairman of the standing committees who will serve for the duration of that Parliament. The Committees are done in order of precedence set by the Senate. On the last vote for a committee the ballot has the final two candidates on it with the winner being elected as chairman and the runner up as the deputy chairman. These senators serve only on the one committee. All other senators serve on three committees. The senators in order of seniority are asked to choose one committee to serve on. Once all senators have chosen one committee membership the list is done a second time and then finally a last time for their third committee membership.

The current Senate of 88 would be 87 for membership on the committees with the Speaker being ineligible to serve. 36 senators serve as the chairman or deputy chairman on one of the 18 committees. This leaves 51 senators serving on 3 committees giving you (51 X 3 divided by 18) 8.5 members per committee. Nine committees will have 9 members plus the chairman and deputy for a total membership of 11 on the committee. The other 9 committees would have 8 members plus the chairman and deputy for 10 on those committees.

The Senate of Canada is solely a chamber of sober second thought. It is non-partisan and appointment is through a process independent from the Political Monarch (PM) of the day. All appointees can’t be members of political parties or association. They cannot donate to such organizations or attend any of their meetings. The House of Commons establishes a legislative session where any bills to be passed is voted on each week. This is to be Wednesday at 1 PM. The Senate’s legislative session would be Thursday at 1 PM where any bill that passed the House on Wednesday is voted on. If passed by the Senate the bill goes to the Governor General on Friday for royal assent. There would be no Government or Opposition leaders in the Senate. Its relationship to the executive would as the US Congress. It could summon Ministers and Opposition critics to testify and give information to the committees. The Speaker the day after a bill is introduced into the House summits it to the Senate. The bill then goes to the appropriate committee. When the bill is voted on is determined by when the House votes on it.

The Senate by a majority vote may send a bill back to the House with or without recommendations. The next week in the Commons the bill can be withdrawn, voted on, or tabled for revision. If the sponsor withdraws the bill, it kills it. The sponsor can have the bill voted on “as is” for a second time on Wednesday’s legislative session. The bill can be tabled for revision in which case the sponsor has 90 days to introduce a revised bill or the bill is deemed withdrawn from consideration by the House. The second time the Senate gets a bill by a 2/3 majority it can send it back to the House with objections. If the bill passes the Commons for the third time the Senate passes the bill and sends it to the Governor General. Thus the Senate at most can delay any bill by 2 weeks.

As long as the Senate is partisan-appointed and partisan in operation it cannot be a sober chamber of second thought. As long as it is not elected it has no right to block legislation passed by the House of Commons. A New Year and maybe Senate reform for 2016. I have sent an earlier version of this letter to all the “Liberal” Senators over the last 5 months and to any new Independent Senators, so now to you. Congratulations on your appointment to the Senate of Canada.

Sincerely yours,

 

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