Premier Clark: Senate should be 'fixed or folded'

Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau wants to keep the senate because it gives Quebec an advantage over Alberta and B.C. - Black Press files
Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau wants to keep the senate because it gives Quebec an advantage over Alberta and B.C.
— image credit: Black Press files

VICTORIA – The B.C. government will go ahead with its plan for Alberta-style senate elections if it proves impossible to scrap the senate altogether, Premier Christy Clark said this week.

Clark issued a statement in response to the controversy over senate expense claims that has gripped Ottawa. On record as preferring the senate be scrapped, Clark declined to comment on federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's statement to a Montreal newspaper that the senate should be preserved because Quebec has 24 senators and Alberta and B.C. have only six each.

"It's true British Columbians have long been troubled by an unelected senate, but it should be fixed or folded and not a distraction," Clark said.

"The Prime Minister invited us to move the process of senate reform forward. To that end, we have moved legislation in the house before the election that would make a senate election possible. It has not been passed and it will not be re-introduced until there is clarity from the Supreme Court."

Clark added: "We need to remember the fact that B.C. and the West is dramatically under-represented in the unelected senate."

The federal government has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to rule on whether it can abolish the senate, or impose term limits and a provincial election requirement on new senators appointed.

When former B.C. Liberal MLA John Les tabled senate election legislation in 2011, Clark made her preference clear.

"I think that if we could, under the constitution, we should abolish the senate," Clark said at the time, adding that electing senators would be the next best thing.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper returned to the House of Commons Tuesday to face opposition questions on the conduct of Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, whose expense claims have come under scrutiny.

Both have left the Conservative caucus to sit as independents, along with former Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau and Liberal Mac Harb, whose expenses are also subject to an audit.

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