Poll

What do you want to see?

Proportional Commons & Elected Senate
Proportional Commons & Appointed Senate
Constituency based Commons & Elected Senate
Constituency based Commons & Appointed Senate
Proportional Commons, Elected Senate & Elected Governor General
Constituency based Commons, Elected Senate, and Elected Governor General
Something Else
Proportional Commons & no Senate
Constituency based Commons & no Senate

Author Topic: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)  (Read 319422 times)

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Offline MCG

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Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« on: June 30, 2004, 21:57:06 »
Quote
Electoral reform moves higher on agenda
The Edmonton Journal

Ottawa - The minority government that emerged from Monday's federal election may actually lead to long-awaited changes to the way Canadians elect their representatives, says the head of a citizens' group.

"I think the issue is a little higher up the issues ladder now than it was a couple of days ago," Larry Gordon, executive director of Fair Vote Canada, said.

Under proportional representation based on popular vote, according to Fair Vote, the 135-seat Liberal minority would have been reduced to about 113 seats. The Conservatives would have won 91 seats rather than 99, the Bloc Quebecois would have been reduced from 54 seats to about 38 and the NDP would have won about 48 seats instead of 19.

I hope this is wrong.   I have heard several spins on what the Commons could look like under proportional representation and I don't like any of them.   In all cases the responsibility of the MP to a given constituency is reduced.   True Proportional representation would remove constituencies all together and MPs would be solely responsible to the parties that appoint them to fill seats earned.   This system would bring about an end to any independent MPs.

Compromises suggest 1/3 to 1/2 the house be filled by proportional representation while the remainder be constituency based.   This sounds nice, but again my voice gets obscured in a constituency that may now be four times larger (as constituencies will be merged to reduce thier numbers to a fraction of the house).   The MPs obligation to the individual is comparatively reduced as he is compelled to spread his time over so many more individuals with so many more concerns.

I think Canada would be much better served by an elected Senate.   I propose a Senate which is elected every 5 years & seats are awarded by proportional representation within provinces/regions.   The current seat distribution (by province/region) in the Senate does not need to change (but it would not hurt to give each province an equal number of Senators).   The effect of this would be that MPs are still just as responsible to their constituents while those people who are best represented by smaller parties can still have their voices heard through the proportional Senate.   This could even result in more independent & small party MPs as people would be less concerned with "strategic voting."

     :cdn:     

Note:   I refer to Senate "region" as I see the territories voting as a single block.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2004, 18:05:30 by McG »

Offline Infanteer

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2004, 23:18:48 »
I am tempted to post something a little more indepth, but I simply don't have the energy.

I don't want to see any form of Proportional Represention in the House of Commons.  Even a mixed form, which has both representatives and members elected proportionally, creates a two-tiered system that still strengthens party politics.  The representatives of the ridings have to ensure they have the confidence of a plurality of their riding, or they will lose their seats.  Not so for PR elected members, who have to keep in the good graces of their respective party machinery.  Who decides how the PR elected senators are appointed?  Depart from the democratic vote to party infighting for higher spots on the list?

I think you are quite right on a better solution being in the form of Senate Reform.  I firmly believe in a Triple E senate; Equal, Effective, and Elected.  What is the point of leaving senate seat distribution the way it is (Ontario 24, Quebec 24, NS 10, NB 10, PEI 4, Manitoba 6, Sask 6, Alberta 6, BC 6, NF 6, Yuk 1, NWT 1, and Nun 1), this only leads to Ottawa and Quebec having to much clout in a federal system.  Australia has a Senate in which each of the six states send 12 Senators and each of the three territories sends 2.

I propose Canada's ailing federation be served by two House's of Parliament.  The upper house, the Senate, is the bedrock for support for regional issues.  Like the US Senate, each province of Canada would be alotted the same amount of Senators, regardless of population.  Some sort of inclusion of the territories is important as well.  The Senate would be elected for 6 year set terms, and would have independant legislative duties, acting as a check on the Commons.  I could see PR fitting a little better into provincial senatorial votes, but I still oppose it for the reasons highlighted earlier.  A mixed form of PR could be better, perhaps a preferrential ballot throughout the Province would insure a better mix and allow for independents.

Canada's lower House, the Commons, will remain as it is today as a representative of population groups.  We complain of the undue influence of Ontario and Quebec in elections, but we must remember that half the population lives here; they are the Majority.  With an effective senate we can remove rules prohibiting reduction of Commons seats; we can find a reasonable number that can define a riding a set the number of seats according to that.  I would advocate that the House of Commons would be elected on fixed 4 or 5 year terms (5 year terms could ensure that Senate elections and Commons election never fall on the same year, pros and cons?).  The Prime Minister would be from the leading Party in the Commons and select his Cabinet, on approval by the Senate, from other members of Commons.  As well, any appointments made by the Prime Minister (Supreme Court, Governor General, Auditor General) would have to be approved by the Senate.  As well, non-confidence votes (not even law, just convention) would be abolished, allowing for more free debate and free voting on the floor of both Houses

This Senatorial power of approval can do much to reduce the power that is highly concentrated in the office of the Prime Minister (our head of government has the most power out of any industrialized democracy, look what happens when assholes like Trudeau or Cretin get in).  I think a layout like this could place the proper checks and balances upon Majority governments and maintain the principles of Peace, Order, and Good Government that our Founding Lawyers...err Fathers built Confederation upon.
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2004, 00:30:03 »
Thanks McG for posting a more productive thread.  Too many raw surfaces today.

Infanteer.  I agree with you.  :salute:

The direct representation of the House of Commons needs to be kept at all costs.  Maybe the first past the post system could be swapped out for the single vote transferrable.  (Rank the candidates 1 to umpty ump, last candidate dropped and votes assigned to the remainder - conservative leadership convention). At least that way the actual representative has some claim to a degree of support from the majority of their constituents and the constituents have an elected, directly accountable and responsible representative.

Likewise I think the Senate is the place for some form of proportional representation with elections being conducted by provinces and territories definitely but possibly also by natives, interest groups, and maybe even the federal government. If the idea is to get a house of "Sober Second Thought" and supply as many qualified viewpoints as possible.

But with two authoritative houses, do we need a tie-breaker?  Do we need to, as I suggested elsewhere, elect the Governor-General?  As we have all been reminded lately she is not without power.  She only lacks authority - the moral authority that comes from popular support measured in an election.

And again I will apologize for my comments on the other threads - but I will not withdraw them.

Cheers....
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Offline MCG

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2004, 01:20:16 »
I'm all for an elected Governor General (appointed by the Queen on the recomendation of the People of Canada) but I would keep the executive powers with the PM & Cabinet.  There are other ways of breaking a deadlock between the houses.  The UK has a system in which the commons can pass legislation that is opposed in the House of Lords by passing the act under three consecutive governments (or something to that effect).

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2004, 12:28:35 »
You are right McG.

PM and the government should be in the house.
Over, Under, Around or Through.
Anticipating the triumph of Thomas Reid.

"One thing that being a scientist has taught me is that you can never be certain about anything. You never know the truth. You can only approach it and hope to get a bit nearer to it each time. You iterate towards the truth. You don’t know it.”  - James Lovelock

Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others. [Ambrose Bierce, 1911]

Yard Ape

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #5 on: July 14, 2004, 13:05:15 »
You should make this a poll.
I'll go for an elected senate & GG.

Offline Ryoshi

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #6 on: July 14, 2004, 14:39:51 »
I am certainly for Senate reform (the current version is effectivly useless), but at the same time, I do have some minor worries about too many changes to align the Canadian system with the US system. I'm not an expert in political science or the government systems, but to me, the US system is built on checks and balances with and overall purpose to block legislation and action. Each branch of the government checks and balances another, and unless you please a lot of people in a few different places/houses, your proposed legislation would be tied up for eons, if not flat out rejected.

On the other hand, the current Canadian system grants far greater power to the ruling party and especially PM, it seems to allow for far speedier change and action. While a lot of this has to do with getting elected with a majority government... Canadians on the whole seem to like majority governments. I like the idea of a government that is able to get things done, in terms of not being tied up by a million and one checks and balances to their power. Of course, the trade off is if the standing government or PM pushes through bad bills and policies.

Still.. I'm hesitant about placing too many barriers to a speedy and effective government. Even though it may not be particularly fast now, I don't see how adding more checks and balances would help speed up the process.

Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #7 on: July 14, 2004, 16:14:58 »
As has been pointed out on several political blogs, the whole "party representation" issue is a red herring.  Political parties don't really have any particular constitutional standing.  Parliament is composed of riding representatives who are directly chosen by riding electors (voters).  Party affiliations are an afterthought which helps to simplify governance (ie. figuring out which clique can control Parliament or the balance of power in Parliament), and there are some institutional characteristics that have been grafted on over the years (eg. funding based on party status).

No form of proportional representation based on party affiliation is necessary or appropriate.

As for transferable vote schemes to ensure each MP's tally is a majority rather than plurality, I am unconvinced that the sum of, for example, "first + second place" votes should be given greater weight than "first place only" votes.  Electors have a choice of voting for the best representative, or one who will be a proxy for the party leader of preference.  If an elector is lucky, both qualities reside in the same person.  Caveat emptor.
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Offline Infanteer

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #8 on: July 14, 2004, 18:37:21 »
Quote
I am certainly for Senate reform (the current version is effectivly useless), but at the same time, I do have some minor worries about too many changes to align the Canadian system with the US system. I'm not an expert in political science or the government systems, but to me, the US system is built on checks and balances with and overall purpose to block legislation and action. Each branch of the government checks and balances another, and unless you please a lot of people in a few different places/houses, your proposed legislation would be tied up for eons, if not flat out rejected.

Perhaps we can look to a "check and balance" system like the US and take what is best from there.   The very fact that 60% of the electorate that voted did not want the ruling parties means there should be some checks and balances to deter the near fiat rule we have today.

Quote
On the other hand, the current Canadian system grants far greater power to the ruling party and especially PM, it seems to allow for far speedier change and action. While a lot of this has to do with getting elected with a majority government... Canadians on the whole seem to like majority governments. I like the idea of a government that is able to get things done, in terms of not being tied up by a million and one checks and balances to their power.   Of course, the trade off is if the standing government or PM pushes through bad bills and policies.

We seem to have had a lot of that recently.
-----

Quote
As has been pointed out on several political blogs, the whole "party representation" issue is a red herring.   Political parties don't really have any particular constitutional standing.   Parliament is composed of riding representatives who are directly chosen by riding electors (voters).   Party affiliations are an afterthought which helps to simplify governance (ie. figuring out which clique can control Parliament or the balance of power in Parliament), and there are some institutional characteristics that have been grafted on over the years (eg. funding based on party status).

Isn't unwritten convention part of our Constitutional process.   Even the layout of the House of Commons, with a side for the ruling party and a side for the official opposition, lends itself to party solidarity (who wants to "cross the floor"?).   Even if Parties are not written into the formula of leadership that we use, we must give recognition to the de facto ruling nature of them when contemplating reform.   Perhaps we need to change the seating arrangement to one of a semi-circle or something more conducive to the notion of Edmund Burke's "deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole" as opposed to the factionalized groupthink we have now.

Quote
No form of proportional representation based on party affiliation is necessary or appropriate.

At least someone agrees with me.

Quote
As for transferable vote schemes to ensure each MP's tally is a majority rather than plurality, I am unconvinced that the sum of, for example, "first + second place" votes should be given greater weight than "first place only" votes.   Electors have a choice of voting for the best representative, or one who will be a proxy for the party leader of preference.   If an elector is lucky, both qualities reside in the same person.   Caveat emptor.

Too true.   We should look to improving the quality and abilities of our individual Parliamentarians rather than changing the way they are given their position.   Sending an idiot to represent you will not change if you give him or her a plurality, a majority, a majority of "frist and second" place votes, etc.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2004, 18:40:09 by Infanteer »
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Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #9 on: July 14, 2004, 21:20:05 »
If the aim of reform were to achieve the good of the whole, we would be best advised to energetically pursue means of impoverishing (rather than empowering) parties.
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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #10 on: July 14, 2004, 22:07:48 »
Might an elected Senate do that?

Offline Infanteer

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #11 on: July 14, 2004, 22:13:23 »
I think measures to strengthen the role of the individual Parliamentarian are needed.  Eliminate the non-confidence vote, and make all members able to propose legislation, even that which deals with public funding.  As we have it now, too much power is centralized in the Cabinet and the Prime Ministers Office.  I would like to be able to go to my MP and have him effectively heard, rather then him being the frontman for those who yank the party strings.
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Offline MCG

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2004, 18:06:23 »
You should make this a poll.
I'll go for an elected senate & GG.
Done.

Offline Infanteer

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2004, 18:53:25 »
I think the biggest advantage of splitting our executive and legislative branches would be to raise the profile of parliamentary votes.

We all say we vote for our MP based on his or her good qualities, but does that really matter?   In the end, we are voting for the party and its leader, who will form government on some sort of ad-hoc "electoral college" (the 308 seats in the house).   Traditional measures prohibit an MP from having any real effect on governence, unless your fortunate enough to have a Cabinet Minister in your riding.   Party discipline and solidarity can muffle even the best of Representatives.   You could lobby your MP until you're blue in the face to increase defence spending, but he/she is powerless to propose anything due to restrictions on backbenchers proposing bills that deal with the public purse.  

If we had seperate elections for for Parliamentarians and Senators, then there would be no need to get caught up in "national debates" and "leadership profiles", that could be reserved for the election of the Governor General (Head of Government, representing the Head of State); where he or she gets their Cabinet from is another can of worms.   Issues would filter down to a more local level, with Parliamentarians having a real voice in representing their seat (of course, some restrictions would have to be removed, as I stated above).

In between the local MP's and the national Governor General would be the regional Senators, who would probably do a better job in representing us then the superfluous Provincial Governments.   They would be the force of Federalism, ensuring that regional issues are properly addressed in a Triple-E Senate.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2004, 18:57:44 by Infanteer »
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

Offline MCG

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #14 on: August 03, 2004, 01:31:08 »
Are you suggesting a US style executive in which the Ministers/Secretaries are not elected officials?

While we have had cabinet ministers that were not members of either house, they are rare.  Even the unelected Senators rarely find themselves in Cabinet.  Because the executive generally is mixed into the House of Commons, opposition members have the ability to question decisions/actions of the executive directly.  I think this is good.  At election time, citizens also have the power to punish Cabinet Ministers that have done a particularly unsatisfying job.

Offline Infanteer

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2004, 02:27:20 »
Quote
Are you suggesting a US style executive in which the Ministers/Secretaries are not elected officials?

Possibly; that's why I said it was another can of worms.

Obviously their are pros and cons to having a civilian appointment vs a Parliamentary appointment.

     I might say I am a little more inclined towards having a "US Style" system of civilian appointment followed by Parliamentary confirmation.   You could avoid conflict of interest issues in that a MP happens to be at both times a representative of his riding and of his Ministry.   If I am a citizen of riding X, I want my minister to focus on the local issues and dealing with pertinent legislation, not trying to manage the budget and deal with the nightmare bureaucracy that is the Department of National Defence.  
     As well, I do not like the fact that Cabinet appointments from the House of Commons creates a "two-tiered" system of MP's.   If you are lucky enough to have an MP who is an influential Cabinet Minister (Say you live in Edmonton Central), the issues of your riding have a better chance of being voiced, as opposed to if you are one of the other 270 or so ridings that are represented by backbenchers (even more pronounced if your MP is NDP or Conservative).  
     Finally, the 308 MP's and 100 or so Senators may not be the best choices for Minister of National Defence, whereas there may be someone who is not a legislator that would be excellent choice as a minister.   General Lew MacKenzie seems to be the popular choice for Defence Minister; an elected Governor General, regardless of party affiliation, could seek him out for the job figuring his credentials are more important then his appeal to his local electorate.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2004, 02:33:44 by Infanteer »
"Overall it appears that much of the apparent complexity of modern war stems in practice from the self-imposed complexity of modern HQs" LCol J.P. Storr

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2004, 07:00:59 »
I have to say I'm not too keen on going the US route. Get a republican executive but a democrat legislative branch (or vice versa) and you will have the same difficulties as with minority government, except the deals are even more likely to happen behind closed doors. Not to mention the joys of dipolar politics   ::).

You'd likely be hard pressed to find strong support for switching cold turkey from our current system to a version of the American one among people versed in comparative politics - not because such a system couldn't work, but because it's chances of working HERE are not all that great. Turning things upside down may eventually be successful, but it would require a long period of working out the kinks, with at very best - and I'm talking fluke extended good luck streak here - equal chance of success as less drastic changes to the current system. Why accept greater risk of failure for no better chance of success? We're better served using countries with political backgrounds closer to ours as case studies (e.g. Aussies and Kiwis).

I think we should be looking at reform to our electoral system and electing the senate within our current basic framework. For the Commons I'd take either a MIXED proportional system or transferable vote, but dislike the current system and am dead set against a straight up proportional one. For the senate, a mixed proportional system would work well I think, though I could tolerate pure proportional, with provinces or regions as multi-member districts in either case.

Actually, now that I consider the two together, I'd say a single transferable vote for the Commons and mixed proportional elected Senate is probably my preferred option. This would cut down on wasted and strategic votes for local MP's, but satisfies the need for a more representative dimension in government with the senate, thus still keeping majorities in the Commons, well... common (no pun intended).  

An elected GG would be kind of nice, but the vote would probably have to be limited to a list of 4 or 5. While an elected GG could recover some of the position's former significance, such a change is irrelevant by comparison to the others.


ADD version:
- single transferable vote Commons
- mixed PR Senate in multimember districts
- don't care too much about GG by comparison, but elected would be nice

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2004, 11:48:56 »
Quote
While an elected GG could recover some of the position's former significance, such a change is irrelevant by comparison to the others.

Actually I think you are wrong there.  The elected Governor-General is the most significant of all.  The G-G has many powers in law.  The holder of the position is only constrained by the lack of popular support.  A situation that would be remediedd if the G-G were elected.

Keep in mind that all bills are signed by the G-G, the G-G can dissolve parliament and choose the PM.  As well all of those "Prime Ministerial Appointments" to the Courts, Crown Corporations, Commissions, Civil Service, RCMP, DND, Senate, etc  .... all of those are at the PM's "recommendation" the appointment is actually in the "gift" of the Governor-General.
Over, Under, Around or Through.
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"One thing that being a scientist has taught me is that you can never be certain about anything. You never know the truth. You can only approach it and hope to get a bit nearer to it each time. You iterate towards the truth. You don’t know it.”  - James Lovelock

Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others. [Ambrose Bierce, 1911]

Offline hoser

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #18 on: August 03, 2004, 13:36:12 »
Have there been any (recent) instances where the GG has refused any of the "recommendations" of the PM?  What would happen in that situation?

I'm the one that chose option 3, but mostly out of a lack of understanding of the matter.  I'm not saying we should not have an elected GG, but I'm not so sure how it would work.  If the GG does have real power, and as you say, power over much of what the PM does, could there not be a problem if the GG had a conservative agenda, and the Liberals were in power (unlikely, sure, but what if)?  I'd like to think a GG could remain impartial to any party ties, but at the very least they're going to have a bias one way or another.  At least it seems to me, because they would have to campaign on some kind of issues.

Also, what length of term would the GG have, if elected?  If its too long, and there's a change in government, the GG could force a stalemate in government.  Too short, and you'd run the same risk, if the people elect a GG with vastly different views during the middle of the PM's term, because they don't like the way things are going. Maybe a system where if the GG refuses to make an appointment or sign a bill, there's an automatic recall and an election for his/her job.  Then again, that would make it beneficial for the GG to play kiss-*** to keep their job, and remove any sort of power that the accountability of an elected position would provide. 

If I'm missing the boat on something, please let me know.  I'm typing as I think here, so my ideas are more than likely full of holes.

Offline RCA

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #19 on: August 03, 2004, 14:20:24 »
My feelings are the Executive branch must remain elective. In this way they are accountable to the House of Commons through having a seat there.

Leave the House of Commons as the status quo (except possibly a fixed term), and move to an elected Senate, based on equal number per province and based on a proportional system, and a fixed elective schedule staggered from the House of Commons.

 The Senate would then have final voice for all appointments from Crown Corporations, The Supreme Court, Bank of Canada, the Governor General etc. The Cabinet would not fall under this, because this is the PMs prerogative. The Senate has veto power, but can be overtunred by a 60-75% re vote in the House.

The GG remains the Head of State, but only has rubberstamp powers as she has now.

This only works if the Senate can be kept non-partisan. Once moving to an elected body, some form of hierarchy must be set up. For example who leads etc. Once this starts, it is very difficult to keep party politics out. The check is the staggered voting schedule for each entity. Other then that, I don't know how to keep The Senate above it.
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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #20 on: August 03, 2004, 16:54:13 »
I've come to completely oppose any form of proportional system of representation as it only serves to further entrench party politics.  I'd like to see each politician elected on his own merits.

RCA, you worry about the Senate being overtaken by political parties; don't you feel that a proportional system, which makes gives senate seats right to a party to decide on who to fill it with, will do exactly this.  Perhaps some sort of dual seat system could work.  For example, a province has 10 seats.  Each senatorial riding within the province has two seats.  The top two vote getters will get the two seats, giving you a senior and a junior senator from each riding; 5 senior and 5 junior senators go to Parliament.  I bet you about 70% of the electorate would have their voices heard if you could work something like this out.

As for an executive/legislative split, I'd say it is more in the realm of idea then Senatorial reform, which I believe is very necessary for the health of our democracy.  However, when we speak of this split do we necessarily have to draw immediate comparisons to the system the United States uses?  I know France and Germany both have systems with a President and a Prime Minister/Chancellor.  I believe in France, the President has more power, while in Germany the Chancellor seems to be the leading figure, but either way both countries have functional heads of state and government.  Could Canada function with an elected Governor General and an elected Prime Minister, each position with its own respective powers?
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Offline Brad Sallows

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #21 on: August 03, 2004, 17:35:23 »
If memory serves and without checking fact, in the original US system senate members were to be elected by the respective state legislatures.  Should provincial senators be elected for two-year terms (staggered one in each year) by provincial legislatures, from nominations submitted by the public at large?

Note that the point of a short (two year) term would be to both discourage career politicians from entering senate life and encourage citizens to consider a two year hiatus in their private careers to serve in the senior legislative body of the nation.
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Offline Infanteer

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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #22 on: August 03, 2004, 17:51:47 »
Quote
If memory serves and without checking fact, in the original US system senate members were to be elected by the respective state legislatures.  Should provincial senators be elected for two-year terms (staggered one in each year) by provincial legislatures, from nominations submitted by the public at large?

I am not sure if they were appointed by state governors or elected by state legislatures.  Either way, I don't like the idea for two reasons:

1)  I am not a big fan of provincial politics all together.  I think we would be better off without wasting time and energy on Provincial governments (ie: what do they do that the Federal Government can't?)

2)  If a Canadian Senate was composed of an equal amount of senators from each province, then you wouldn't see much variation among provincial "Blocs".  For example, using 10 as our magical number; what is to stop a province with an NDP majority from sending 10 NDP senators to Parliament, whether they are appointed or elected by the provincial government.  Seems to open up the Senate to cronyism and patronage, exactly what we are trying to eliminate with Senatorial reform proposals.  I'd prefer Senators to be held directly accountable to an electorate.

Quote
Note that the point of a short (two year) term would be to both discourage career politicians from entering senate life and encourage citizens to consider a two year hiatus in their private careers to serve in the senior legislative body of the nation.

Although I can see pros and cons to both long and short terms, I would err to the longer terms.  Short terms are not necessarily going to deter the career politician (look at the US House of Representatives).  I would like to see a longer term so that officials can properly enact and follow through with their proposals.  To counter this, perhaps more accountibility through a system of recall is neccesary?  The revolving door of officials in 2 year terms would make voting seem to be more of a chore, where we could never really get to know our representative.

If I were to peg elections and terms, I would work it like this:

Elected Senate and Elected House: Senate elections on fixed date in spring; 6 year term.  House elections on fixed date in autumn; 4 year term.

Elected Senate, Elected House, and Elected Executive (G-G): Senate and House elected on fixed date in spring; 6 and 4 year terms.  G-G election on fixed date in autumn; 5 year term.



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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #23 on: August 03, 2004, 19:06:22 »
What I actually said was become partisan. This is the biggest problem, and  I can't think of a solution. Other then to mitigate its effects. Therefore the proportional system (I not a great fan either) would counter the "first past the post. Your MP is accountable to you, the constituent. The Senate would be accountable to something else [province (?)]. The province would pick from the slate of candidates based on the portion of the vote, so an NDP  province couldn't select 10 NDPers unless they had 100% of the vote. Or you break the province into areas, broken how ever, as long as the # of Senators are even and don't go over 10 (or 12 or 15 whatever). Example, Manitoba  - 5 from Winnipeg, 5 from the rest of MB, Ontario - 5 for Southern On, and 5 from Northern On.

You have a strong dislike for provincial governments (my guess an extra layer) but they are necessary in a country our size, because we are regional by nature. A solution that works in the Maritimes, won't necessarily work on the Paraires.
And I'm a strong federalist.

 In France, the President is head of sate and the executive, while the Prime Minister is head of government. In Germany, the chancellor is head of the executive and government, and the President is head of state.

Recalls won't work because antone with an axe to grind can play that card. Witness Arnold and California. Over the years our politics has become much more polarizing with parties doing anything to stay in power. Recalls would be just another tool for them to play.

For a Head of State, all we need some one to sign the bills, accept dissolution of gov'ts (not necessary on fixed elective terms), and show the flag. Therefore this person can be appointed, and confirmed by the Senate. An elected one, probably would be preferable, but it is a non-partisan post, and do we need another election and expense that will go with it (on top of elected Senators and MPs.
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Re: Electoral Reform (Senate, Commons, & Gov Gen)
« Reply #24 on: August 03, 2004, 21:12:34 »
I am not a big fan of provincial politics all together.   I think we would be better off without wasting time and energy on Provincial governments (ie: what do they do that the Federal Government can't?)
Out of curiosity Infanteer, are you from Ontario?   :blotto:

Seriously though, the provincial governments are there to prevent people in one region from being screwed over because a federal government is more interested in the other side of the country (note that unfortunately this does nothing to prevent people from being screwed over in general). Feelings of alienation (e.g. Quebec and western provinces) would go through the roof if there was only a federal level.

I'd like to address a few more things brought up by people here, but have to run. I'll get to it later.