The Globe & Mail has an interesting story today on Harper’s plans to try and get senate reform back on the docket. Apparently, Atl. Canadians are outraged. Premier Dexter will fight the good fight.
In Atlantic Canada, where the provinces enjoy clout in the Senate disproportionate to their population, a leading political scientist warned against “imposed” changes.
I can’t believe that anyone in Atlantic Canada thinks the current Senate with our ‘clout’ has somehow been good for this region. There is an inverse relationship between ‘clout’ in the Senate and economic performance since Confederation. The only thing that defenders could argue is that it would have been worse without the Senate. Cold comfort. What are we fighting to defend?
Instead of whining, maybe some sober thought from Atlantic Canada should be put into what the Senate should look like.
I prefer a U.S. style Senate where each state gets two senators and that chamber acts as a counterbalance to the House. If you want to hold a large, diverse country together over generations you need, IMO, some structure at the federal level to ensure that certain regions can’t act as bullies.
I realize there are problems with the U.S. model as well and I haven’t done enough research to be set in my view on this but I am convinced that the current model has not worked for Atlantic Canada and there were warnings that it wouldn’t from the start.
If the next 140 years of Canada plays out like the last 140, Atlantic Canada is destined to become an outpost – servicing what’s left of the natural resources. If you don’t believe me just take the population trending since Confederation and extend it out 140 years. Then overlay the increasing dependence of the region (less NL) on federal transfers. Then factor in that until now the majority of decision makers and influencers in Ottawa had some affinity to Atl. Canada (either they or their parents were from here or some other connect). The next wave of leaders up there will have never even been to Atl. Canada. The millions of immigrants that have settled in Canada over the past 20-30 years Montreal and further west have never been here and have no intention of ever coming.
Maybe it’s time to rethink the Senate after all.