Why the Senate matters
The Senate is no accident of history: it was the product of reflection and choice by the Fathers of Confederation, who understood that it could foster national unity by giving a voice in Parliament to provincial, regional and minority interests. It’s an indispensable part of our democracy and important to Albertans because it acts as the counterbalance to the House of Commons, which is dominated by the representational power of Ontario and Quebec.
The Senate provides thoughtful consideration and review of policy and legislation. A place of “sober second thought,” as our first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, described it, the Senate reviews bills for technical problems and unintended consequences. Canadians deserve laws that are fair and free of errors, and the Senate plays an important role in this regard.
The Senate is Canada’s original think tank. Senate committees investigate numerous issues ranging from energy and banking to national security and human rights. The reports generated from committee work frequently inform and influence public policy and legislation. For example, in 2006, a Senate Committee completed the first-ever national study of mental health, mental illness and addiction. It found an alarming number of challenges facing Canadians with mental health issues, and the following year the federal government implemented its recommendations by creating the Mental Health Commission of Canada to develop the country’s first mental health strategy.
To learn more about the Senate of Canada, please explore the following links:
- Our Country, Our Parliament – An easy-to-read overview of Canada’s Parliament.
- Senate Fact Sheets
- ParlVu – Webcasts of Senate committee meetings and audio of Senate proceedings.
Why I campaigned for the Senate
I ran to be your Alberta elected Senator because I believe that the Senate is a valuable component of our democracy – a place where long-term thinking can be done, new ideas explored and advanced, regional interests represented, and important policy questions given careful consideration.
The upper chamber performs an important function in creating a healthy, just, and prosperous Canada, and I am honoured to contribute to that work.
My 7-Point Plan to improve the Senate
In September 2013, I put forward my 7-Point Plan to improve the Senate’s relationship with Canadians. The plan is a series of simple and practical steps that will help the Senate become a more accountable and transparent institution. I am pleased that we have already seen progress on a number of its recommendations.
Senate Reform: a modern Senate for a modern Canada
The Senate performs a vital role in Canada’s governance, but it could be so much more. Unchanged since the time of Confederation, the Senate now finds itself at odds with 21st century Canada. I believe in the potential of a reformed Senate, one that meets the needs and expectations of today’s Canadians. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to create a modern, effective and accountable institution worthy of this great country.
- My opinion piece in the Edmonton Journal on the April 2014 Supreme Court decision on Senate Reform.
- A New Senate for a More Democratic Canada (2010) – An explanation of the role that a reformed Senate could play in Canada’s governance.
- Canada Needs a Reformed Senate (July 2013) – An opinion piece I wrote for the National Post.
- A speech outlining my views on Senate Reform (September 2013)