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Revisit the Senate as it was meant to be

The upper house was created to protect provincial interests in the federal legislative process

by Vincent Pouliot


The first selection of the Members of the Legislative Council shall be made, except as regards Prince Edward Island, from the Legislative Councils of the various Provinces, so far as a sufficient number be found qualified and willing to serve; such Members shall be appointed by the Crown at the recommendation of the General Executive Government, upon the nomination of the respective Local Governments, and in such nomination due regard shall be had to the claims of the Members of the Legislative Council of the Opposition in each Province, so that all political parties may as nearly as possible be fairly represented.

— Fourteenth resolution of the Quebec Conference, October 1864


15_gg_harperThe scandal provoked by the expense claims of individual senators has obscured a deeper malaise surrounding the Senate – one that dates back to Confederation. This malaise has to do with the reasons why the Fathers of Confederation established a Senate in the first place, and with their failure to follow through with a selection procedure that would have made it possible for the Senate to perform the function intended for it.

Montesquieu wrote of the British Constitution, “Political liberty is to be found only … when there is no abuse of power. But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go … To prevent this abuse, it is necessary from the very nature of things that power should be a check to power.”

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About the Author

Vincent Pouliot
Vincent Pouliot is a Quebec City lawyer who has written extensively on constitutional issues, especially in regard to the Senate. He was an intervener in the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada Reference re: the Secession of Quebec, and from 1995 to 1997 he was the Leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada.


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