Last night, after attending a Ontario Liberal Party event, Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty called for the federal senate to be abolished because Ontario is not adequately represented in Canada’s Upper House.
“My preference is that we eliminate the Senate … We’re 40 per cent of the country by way of population and at least 40 per cent by way of contribution to the GDP … But we only have 22 per cent of the Senate seats.” — Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario
According to the Constitutional Act, 1867, the constitution of Parliament is as follows:
Section IV, paragraph 17:
There shall be One Parliament for Canada, consisting of the Queen, an Upper House styled the Senate, and the House of Commons.
and the makeup of the Senate:
Section IV, paragraph 22:
In relation to the Constitution of the Senate Canada shall be deemed to consist of Four Divisions:
- The Maritime Provinces, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island;
- The Western Provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta;
which Four Divisions shall (subject to the Provisions of this Act) be equally represented in the Senate as follows: Ontario by twenty-four senators; Quebec by twenty-four senators; the Maritime Provinces and Prince Edward Island by twenty-four senators, ten thereof representing Nova Scotia…
So, McGuinty complains that Ontario’s Senate compliment should be represented by population and he muses that we should dump the Upper House all together.
To either redistribute the number of Senators or to abolish the Senate, the premiers and the Prime Minister would have to enter new Constitutional talks.
One benefit of the Senate is that no one region is able to dominate over another (hence the four divisions of 24). McGuinty either wants to shift this balance in our bicameral system or he wants to re-open the Constitution.