Thursday, July 28, 2011

In Defense of an Elected Senate

Canada needs an elected Senate. America has an elected Senate and look at how great they're doing, well not particularly at this moment, but look when their Senate isn't causing deadlock that could devastate the world economy. How does 2018 sound? Yeah, look then.

There is no greater monument to democracy than the United States of America. That country's president, congress, senate, judges, and most talented singers are directly elected, though most are elected outside of American Idol, they are all chosen by the people, for the people, at just 99 cents per call.

Currently the United States is having a rare instance where their two elected legislative bodies, the House of Representatives and the Senate, are having a disagreement. Now this is extremely rare, and Canadians must not think that this is because both Congress and the Senate are elected, no, it's because Democrats and Republicans believe in different things. We all know in Canada if we had an elected Senate this kind of deadlock would never happen because all our parties are always in agreement and never fight or spend millions of dollars on dirty attack ads.

As of right now the Republican-controlled Congress is proposing a plan to raise their nation's debt ceiling which would allow the government to borrow more money and not default, and not stop sending out social security payments and paycheques to their soldiers. Now the specifics of the Republican plan can be debated, but it is currently the only plan to save their country from economic turmoil. The American Senate however is full of elected Democrats, who though agree the Republican plan would prevent an apocalyptic debt disaster, must reject it because of the huge problem agreeing with Republicans for the greater good would bring to their party.

All this partisanship may make having an elected Senate look bad, but those Democrats are only doing what their constituents want them to do, and that is be extremely partisan. Even if it causes the country's credit rating to go down, a stock market collapse, and millions of seniors to go without power for a few days or years, the Democrat Senators must represent those who got them elected, the members of the Democratic Party.

Now if this was Canada, where we have an appointed Senate, which scrutinizes legislation, sometimes offers amendments but always approves the bills from the elected House of Commons, such a plan could easily have been passed within a matter of hours and it would have prevented this crisis a year ago. But discussing the efficiency of our current system confuses the issue, an appointed Senate is blatantly undemocratic. It is a shame to all Canadians to have any important member of government not directly elected, ignoring of course our head of state, Governor General, Prime Minister, military, deputy ministers, all of our bureaucracy that actually write the laws, Supreme Court Justices, etc.

Besides needing to achieve the great democracy that exists in the USA, Canada needs an elected Senate because our legislative sessions are getting a little, let's say, big boned. Parliament swallows practically every bill, just adding and adding to its already overweight record of legislation. An elected Senate would still allow the House of Commons to debate, but then after it had its fill, it would be excused from the table and the Senate could throw it all out. Our Parliament could keep doing this until its legislative session was much thinner, and maybe then the United States would finally take us out once in awhile. I'm not suggesting an elected Senate would make our government legislatively bulimic, but the conflict between an elected Senate and the House of Commons would make us pretty hot. Certainly international reporters would finally find us attractive.

In the end, after everything is said and done, if Canada doesn't get an elected Senate, we'll never achieve the same kind of democracy that the United States currently owes its greatness to, the trillions it owes China are a different story.

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