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 echo the comments of the hon. member for Durham that the hon. member for Wellington—Halton Hills has indeed elevated the debate. As a former member of the cabinet for intergovernmental affairs, he knows the file well and he is a passionate defender of democracy. Therefore, I hate to have to disagree with him.

In the past, I have always supported the Senate, but what I have seen transpire in the last few years has shaken my confidence to the core. Rather than it being a house of sober second thought, we have a chamber of partisan clout with no respect for democracy. It was prepared to take Bill C-311, which was passed democratically by this House, and defeat it without allowing it to go committee for hearings. This was the climate bill that had been passed here.

I fear that a future democratically elected House of Commons could have remnant Conservative senators appointed by the Prime Minister continuing to do the former prime minister’s bidding against a newly elected House of Commons with different views. I think we are in trouble, and the only solution may be abolition, although not the current proposal before us.

Hon. Michael Chong: Mr. Speaker, I strongly believe, as I have outlined before, that we need to check the majoritarianism of the House of Commons. We need to provide a check on the role of the executive branch of government. We need a place of sober second thought to review legislation and to do its investigative and research work. For all those reasons, I think the Senate of Canada has a role to play in our system of governance, which is why I believe we need to have a bicameral legislature.