Progressive Canadian Party responds to Justin Trudeau Liberal proposal for Senate Reform
For Immediate Release January 20, 2016
Newmarket, Ontario - The Progressive Canadian Party responded today to the Justin Trudeau Liberal proposal for an Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments.
The Advisory Board proposed is to consist of five members, a federal chair, two other federal members and two ad hoc provincial or territorial members from the province or territory where a vacancy is to be filled. Broad consultations with interest groups are proposed for a transitional period, at least, and recommendations are not binding on the prime minister who will continue alone to nominate Senate appointments to the Governor General representing the Queen in right of Canada.
Subsequent to the transitional period, an open application process is to be established whereby persons can apply, or presumably be recommended, to the Advisory Board for appointment to the Senate.
The proposals are claimed in the new Liberal government’s public announcement to provide nonpartisan and merit-based independent appointments even though the prime minister will continue to nominate appointees and interest groups will be consulted by the Advisory Board.
The Progressive Canadian Party believes that the Liberal government proposal, while it may be well-intentioned, fails to be nonpartisan or merit-based. Further the PC Party believes the proposal fails to provide a process by which excellence and knowledge of governance necessary to the Senate’s role as a revising chamber of government legislation and regulation is provided and further that it risks transforming the Senate into a partisan House of the Provinces by giving to the provinces new constitutional powers to advise in the appointment of Senators at a cost to national unity.
Further, the proposals made through the new Minister of Democratic Institutions fail to answer the question “Who appoints the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments and how is the appointment of the Advisory Board independent, nonpartisan and merit-based?”
No less than the Harper government proposals for Senate reform, the new Trudeau government proposal effectively rewrites the principles of Canadian federalism and the Canadian constitution, albeit in a different way, by looking to provincial and partisan constituencies or interest groups to advise in the appointment of the Upper Chamber in the Parliament of Canada.
The Progressive Canadian party has long proposed that future nomination of Senate candidates to the Governor General should come from the nonpartisan Queen’s Privy Council. The QPC exists within the constitution to advise the GG as the Queen’s representative. The QPC consists of all present and former prime ministers and cabinets, former Supreme Court justices, diplomats, other distinguished Canadians, and leaders of the Opposition or premiers on invitation.
The Minister of Democratic Institutions is the president of the Queen’s Privy Council but does not have the power to choose the members whose standing derives from acknowledged records of public service. Patronage, partisanship by party or special interest, potential provincial sectarianism, and unconstitutional abolition are avoided. Excellence, merit, and knowledge of governance, service, become the standard. The constitutional standing of appointments by the Governor General of Canada on the advice of the Queen’s Privy Council, out of which the convention of prime minister’s advice ultimately derives, is not in question and provides a truly independent advisory board for Senate appointments.
What is more, the Gordian knot is cut. The question of who appoints to the independent advisory board is answered, the Queen’s Privy Council represents earned merit, experience, knowledge of government instead of being appointed by current federal government or amendment of the constitution to give the provinces new powers to intrude in federal authority of Parliament or the powers of the Governor General.
The Progressive Canadian party calls on the government of Justin Trudeau and the new Minister of Democratic Institutions to adopt this solution within the powers of the Queen’s Privy Council and the constitution of Canada to the vexed problem of Senate Reform.Addendum
For more information contact:
The Hon. Sinclair Stevens,
Leader, PC Party
PC Party candidate-of-record South Surrey-White Rock, 2015