The Real Problem With Senate Appointments

The Real Problem With Senate Appointments

Canada has observed a ‘winner take all’ approach to making Senate appointments. Historically, the prime minister has made all appointments to the Upper Chamber. Even now, the current prime minister is making all the appointments, albeit from names submitted by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate appointments. In this article, the author suggests that a procedure for sharing appointments to ensure all leaders of parties are fairly represented. If the current process for selecting independent senators is maintained by future governments, all party leaders should still take turns in choosing senators from the nominees selected by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments.

The real problem with Senate appointments has been that the different party leaders since Confederation have not shared the appointments when they have become prime minister.1 Even now, the current prime minister is making all the appointments, albeit from names submitted by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate appointments. It’s the same problem whether independent senators are named or party-based ones. Sharing the appointments among the party leaders is the only solution. Interestingly enough, appointments to the House of Lords have been shared by the prime ministers of the United Kingdom.2

Representation in the House of Commons: A Long Term Proposal

Representation in the House of Commons: A Long Term Proposal

On December 16, 2011 Bill C-20 An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867, the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act and the Canada Elections Act received Royal Assent (now Chapter 26 of the Statutes of Canada, 2011). It increased the number of seats in the House of Commons from 308 to 338 by giving extra seats to Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec. While representation in the House of Commons is now settled for at least a decade the issue of representation by population will arise again as mandated in section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1867 and protected in section 42 of the Constitution Act, 1982. This article makes a number of suggestions for the next time rep by pop is debated in Canada. Among other things it calls for improved provisions for the smaller provinces, a new mechanism for adjusting the Electoral Quotient and future constitutional negotiations to deal with problems that have developed over the years.

Section 51 of the Constitution Act 1867 provides that the number of members of the House of Commons and the representation of the provinces therein shall be readjusted on the completion of each decennial census, according to a number of rules. Rule 1 calculates the initial seat allocation for all the provinces strictly according to representation by population. Rule 2 adds seats to the provincial numbers based on two minimums: the “Senate Floor” (no less than the number of senators) and the “Grandfather Clause” (no less than the 1976 numbers). Rules 3 and 4 add seats to any province that was previously overrepresented such that it will not become underrepresented. Rule 5 provides that more accurate provincial population estimates are to be used in the calculation rather than the actual census figures. And rule 6 sets out an electoral quotient (constituency size) for rule 1 and provides for a specific method of recalculation every ten years.