It was 25 years ago, but the comment still rings true and relevant today.
Preston Manning, in his unmistakably folksy voice smattered with a liberal use of the word “ought,” described the three priorities of the Senate thusly:
“Alcohol, protocol and Geritol.”
Recent scandals involving senators like Mike Duffy have brought the debate back to the forefront: do we really need a Senate?
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was a Manning Reformer back in the day, and he was in favour of scrapping the Upper House. Like many good intentions seem to do, this one went to Ottawa with both Manning and Harper and died.
What do Canadians, or more specifically, the people of Parksville Qualicum Beach, get for the tax dollars spent on the Senate? Well, we know what we’re supposed to get — sober second thought on bills sent to that august chamber from the House of Commons.
Thing is, with a Senate filled willy-nilly by partisan appointments, exactly what kind of second thought are we getting? And why should a non-elected body full of political appointees, with all due respect to Nancy Greene and, formerly, “The Big M” Frank Mahovlich, have any say on the laws of the land?
The answer is they should not. Changing, never mind abolishing, the Senate is tricky, Constitution-changing business. Why would Quebec or Ontario vote to abolish an institution that has the odds stacked in their favour?
So, the next best thing in a bad situation may be the election of senators. Alberta has done it, and Premier Christy Clark promises to follow suit.
This process may take a generation or two, but a Senate full of elected senators is preferable to what we have now.
Tack the Senate election on to the B.C. municipal elections in 2014.
To be a candidate, you must have 10,000 signatures of eligible B.C. voters.
If we are forced to keep the alcohol, protocol and Geritol flowing, it would be nice to have some say in who is doing the swilling.
— Editorial by John Harding