NOTES FOR REMARKS: DEBATE IN THE SENATE ON THE FAILURE OF THE GOVERNMENT TO APPOINT QUALIFIED PEOPLE TO THE SENATE
Honourable senators, this debate, as we know, deals with the failure of the government to appoint qualified people to the Senate. I would like to say a few words on this issue because it brings to light aspects of Canada’s not-so-new government that should be of concern not only to us in the Senate but to all Canadians.
When it comes to the Senate, the Prime Minister has chosen to leave seats vacant except for two appointments for political purposes. The Prime Minister has chosen to appoint people he needs while ignoring the needs of Canadians who deserve to be represented in Parliament.
The Prime Minister’s creativity is truly remarkable. He does not like the Senate of Canada and, accordingly, he refuses to recognize the fact that the Canadian Confederation requires a second chamber. Our Constitution specifies how and when a new senator is to be appointed, but this process poses political problems for Mr. Harper. To solve his problems, he is proposing to change the Senate by bypassing the Constitution. Senators Banks, Day and Moore have all explained the Prime Minister’s plan in a clear and understandable way.
I thank honourable senators for their remarks. Since being appointed to this chamber, I have a renewed appreciation of history. The honour of being here amongst my honourable colleagues is surpassed only by the honour of being in this chamber, where so many worthy predecessors served since the time of Confederation.
This chamber, this institution, is a proud part of Canada’s history. We are part of a tradition that reflects the birth of our nation and how Canada’s Confederation was formed. This tradition has served our country well by ensuring regional representation and greater representation from women, Aboriginal people and minority groups in Canada’s Parliament. Grattan O’Leary was one of my favourite senators.
Of course, the Senate is a human creation and, as such, may need to change with time. If the time has come to change the Senate, let us do so, but first let us respect our Constitution, our history and our traditions.