The Senate of Canada, unelected and lacking in legitimacy to exercise the powers it has in theory, was supposed to function as a body for “sober second thought.” In fact, until recently, the worst one could say about the Senate was that it was a waste of money. It did, in fairness, often do useful work. Senators have the ability, free of looming elections, to study critical issues and to review government legislation. Until very recently, it was unheard of for the Senate to kill a bill from the House without holding hearings and without attempting compromises. Conservative Senators appointed by Stephen Harper have brought a much more partisan tone to the Senate. The Conservative Senators killed Bill C-311, a Kyoto implementation act passed when Harper still only had a minority government. This was a shock and made me shift position to believe we need to abolish the Senate.
Whether we favour an elected Senate or abolishing the Senate, of all the pieces of parliamentary reform, this one is the hardest. It requires support from a majority of provinces, as well as a re-opening of the Constitution.