Senate moves toward broadcasting its debates – an update on my 7 Point Plan

Posted April 4th, 2014 in blog by Doug Black

An elected senator's seven-point plan to fix the Red ChamberEfforts are underway to welcome a new era of transparency in the Senate with the video broadcasting of debates, as reported on by the Ottawa Citizen’s Jordan Press. The Senate is the only upper chamber in the Western world that does not broadcast its proceedings to the public, which is why I included this reform in the 7-point plan to improve the Senate that I released last year.

It is my hope that the Senate approves this measure as soon as possible, and that, through a portal on the Canadian Public Affairs Channel website, the Senate’s website and television feeds, we can make our debates accessible to every Canadian.

As reported in the article, there is a certain cost associated with purchasing cameras and paying technicians to record the video. We are currently working to identify the best option to ensure accessible, high-quality video. I view this project as an investment in Canada’s democracy and in the transparency and accountability of Parliament.

I will continue to provide updates on this initiative, and I would encourage Albertans and Canadians to complete my survey and let me know how you would watch the Senate’s debates if they were made available to the public (for example, would you watch on TV or your computer?).

Please complete my one-minute survey on broadcasting video of the Senate

Posted February 15th, 2014 in blog by Doug Black

In my 7-Point Action Plan to improve transparency, accountability and public engagement in the Senate, I called for the broadcasting of live video of debate in the Senate Chamber. Broadcasting is the norm in Australia, the United States, the UK and countless other upper chambers around the world. In 2014, Canadians expect and deserve no less.

I now sit on a committee that is studying broadcast options for the Senate, and I am interested in hearing the views of Albertans and Canadians. I am hopeful that the Senate will agree to broadcast live video of its proceedings starting this year. By filling out the brief one-minute survey below, you can help me determine the best way to bring the Senate to Canadians.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

Progress Report: My 7-Point Plan to Improve the Senate

Posted January 18th, 2014 in blog by Doug Black

This past September, I put forward a 7-Point Plan to improve the Senate’s relationship with Canadians. With the Senate facing unfortunate distractions over the course of last year, this plan was a way to get things back on track and restore Canadians’ trust in the Upper Chamber.

My colleagues and I are moving to improve the Senate’s performance, transparency and accountability. Although a lot of work remains to be done, we have made some real progress, and I expect significant achievements to come in 2014.

Below is a progress report that will be updated here on the Senate page of my website.

Progress of the 7-Point-Plan

1. Tighten proof of residency requirements I will continue to push for the formal adoption of residency indicators to determine living allowance eligibility. Ultimately, elections are the best option to ensure that provincial interests are legitimately represented.
2. Add external members to the Senate’s audit committee I will continue to push this reform in 2014.
3. Support legislation that would prevent parliamentarians convicted of serious crimes from receiving the public portion of their pensions Bill C-518 (Protecting Taxpayers and Revoking Pensions of Convicted Politicians Act) has been introduced in the House of Commons.
4. Clearly define “Senate Business” in expense policies The Senate Internal Economy Committee is seized of this matter, and I will continue to advocate for the Senate to clearly define the role of Senators to protect the interests of taxpayers while ensuring that Senators can be strong advocates for the issues important to their constituents.
5. Online disclosure of Senators’ travel and hospitality expenses Completed.
6.Webcast live video debate in the Senate Chamber A committee on which I sit is currently considering recording options, with the goal of having the Senate’s proceedings broadcast on web and TV by fall 2014.
7. Launch a two-way dialogue with Canadians to improve understanding of the Senate and get input on how its work can be improved A committee is currently considering how to improve the Senate’s communications and public engagement. I am working with the committee to ensure that Canadians are engaged in the senate’s work.

The Senate in 2014: My Interview with the Lloydminster Source

Posted January 9th, 2014 in blog, Interview by Doug Black


It was a big learning curve in my first year, full of ups and downs, and I’m excited about where the Senate is heading in 2014.

During the holiday break, I spoke to the Lloydminster Source about my experience in the Senate so far and gave an update on my 7-Point Plan.

Read the full interview here

Excerpts from the interview below.

First Year a Learning Curve for Black

Alberta Senator Doug Black was elected to the Senate earlier this year, and has been learning the ropes in what he calls, “a learning year.”

Black looks back on 2013 knowing that there have been some highs and some lows of the Senate, but hopes that when people look at the Senate they don’t just see the negative.

“In the summer, I put out my seven-point plan for Senate renewal. And I’m happy to say that rising from meetings that senators had at the end of the week last week, we are well ahead on about five or six of those points on the list in getting the Senate reformed, refreshed and modernized,” he said.

Moving into 2014, Black is looking at doing some events in the Lakeland area of the province.

“The Lloyd and the Cold Lake area will be my focus next summer.”

Black said that he is ending the year feeling very positive that he has accomplished what he could under the challenges that took place in the Senate.

“I’m pretty pleased with the contribution I’ve made to the Senate this year,” he said.

“I’ve been elected by Albertans to do a job. So I am very focused on the number one issue for Albertans and that is market access. I say Albertans, but obviously that issue is also a nationwide issue as well. Being able to get our resources to market is key so I am working very hard on that through various channels.”

Survey Results on my 7-Point Plan

Posted January 7th, 2014 in blog by Doug Black

Seven in ten Canadians don’t believe that the Senate performs a useful and necessary political function, according to a recent poll by Ipsos Reid. In 2014, the Senate needs to improve its performance and do a better job at communicating its important role and work to Canadians.

To accomplish this, I outlined a 7-Point Plan to help the Senate improve its relationship with Canadians. It consisted of seven practical steps intended to make the Senate a more accountable and transparent body. As you know, I’m a big supporter of Senate reform, and I believe that the steps outlined in this plan will help get the ball rolling on introducing meaningful change to the Upper Chamber.

Over the last few months, I reached out to Canadians over social media and through my website to find out what points mattered the most to you. Through a short online survey, I asked people to rank the points in order of importance. Next week I’ll give an update on where we’re at right now in implementing these steps, but today I’d like to share some of the findings from the survey.

Survey Summary

85 people completed the survey.

Top 3 steps identified as the MOST important priority:

  1. Add external members to its audit committee, as is done in the UK’s House of Lords .
    20 (23.53%) respondents selected this as the most important priority.
  2. Clearly define “Senate Business” in its expense policies.
    17 (20%) respondents selected this as the most important priority.
  3. Webcast live video of debate in the Senate Chamber.
    14 (16.47%) respondents selected this as the most important priority.

Top 3 steps identified as the LEAST important priority:

  1. Launch a two-way dialogue with Canadians.
    37 (43.53%) respondents selected this as the least important priority.
  2. Webcast live video of debate in the Senate chamber.
    19 (22.35%) respondents selected this as the least important priority.
  3. Support legislation that would prevent MPs and Senators convicted of serious crimes from receiving the public portion of their parliamentary pensions.
    11 (12.94%) respondents selected this as the least important priority.

Total Results

survey stats