Opposition Motion – The Senate

That all funding should cease to be provided to the Senate beginning on July 1, 2013.

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I have struggled with my position on the Canadian Senate.

I can share with hon. members that my party’s policy, based on our membership vote, was that we should move toward an elected Senate. However, I have always preferred our current model. I have worried that we would enter into a gridlock if we had an elected Senate that felt entitled to shoot down bills that came from the Commons. Therefore, I voted for the NDP motion that called for the abolition of the Senate.

My views around the Senate have changed, basically because of the quality of the senators and the partisanship in the current administration of the current Prime Minister. That has made me fearful that the Senate would do again what it did on Bill C-311 in the previous Parliament. This was a bill that was passed by the House on climate and was voted down by unelected senators without a single day of hearings in committee.

I have a question for the hon. minister. Is it not about time that we admitted we ought to follow the example of New Zealand, another Westminster parliamentary democracy, in eliminating the Senate, and that we move directly to abolition?

The bill put forward by the government at the moment does nothing but provide the option for the Prime Minister to pick among possible senators who have been chosen through provincial or municipal elections.

Hon. Tim Uppal: Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has been clear that we would prefer to reform the Senate, and if that is not possible to abolish the Senate. That is why we have referred questions to the Supreme Court, to find a pathway and get some clarity on the pathway to either reforming it, or abolishing it, if reform is not possible.

I would refer a question back to the hon. member. Does she really think that the gimmick put forward today by the NDP is actually a real plan?

It obviously is not. In fact, the NDP critic in this area, the member for Toronto—Danforth, said that abolition will be at minimum extraordinarily difficult. It is not going to happen with a little gimmick and a motion like this.