July 28, 2013
Senator Black meeting with supporters at the Lethbridge Community Arts Centre
Senator Doug Black remains steadfast in his belief the Senate is necessary even though he understands many Canadians are angry about the Senate spending scandals and would like to see the Red Chamber abolished.
Senate reform has been long been talked about but action has fallen short, something Black hopes to change.
“As an elected senator I’ve committed to Albertans when I ran and I’m committing to Albertans in my travels this summer that I’m going to work hard to try and effect some meaningful change,” Black said. “Is it going to be easy? Of course not.”
He said he’s not in a position to judge and doesn’t have all of the facts around the spending issues. However, he has no doubts the issues are damaging to the Senate.
“That’s why last week, on my website, I disclosed all of my office’s spending, absolutely everything. It’s all there for the world to see,” he said. “We need to make sure that taxpayers are confident that their money is being spent appropriately.”
Black also posted his attendance records.
The Senate, with its 105 appointed members, was created to be the chamber of sober second thought and both House of Commons and Senate approval are needed to pass legislation. The Senate’s job is to look after the interests of all Canadians but they rarely reject legislation. The Senate can suggest changes to bills and that occurred recently with Bill 377. The bill, that would effectively force unions to publicly disclose their spending, was voted down in the Senate. The suggested amendments will go back to the House of Commons this fall.
Black said the Senate fulfills a critical role within government.
“Canada needs as much democracy as we can possibly get. We don’t want to eliminate organizations that provide checks and balances,” he said.
Black wants a relevant and reformed Senate and one that is more accountable to Canadians. He wants to see elected Senators but he realizes that may be a long way off. However, senate appointments could be done in a way that provides some consultation with Canadians, perhaps through provincial committees.
He also sees value in developing a communications strategy for the Senate to keep them in better touch with Canadians.
“It’s got to get fixed, it’s got to get addressed in a way that makes the institution more effective,” Black said. “We’ve got to clean up these issues around transparency around expenses.”
Black, a lawyer, was appointed to the Senate in January. He serves on the National Finance and Banking, Trade and Commerce committees.
He and his wife Linda live in Canmore and they were in Lethbridge to attend Saturday’s ceremony marking the first annual Korea War Veterans Day. Friday they visited with city representatives and supporters and toured Lethbridge College and the University of Lethbridge.
To read this article on the Lethbridge Herald’s website, please click here.