Why do we have a Senate in Canada?

OK, I know that it is a chamber of “sober second thought,” and that it approves the vast majority of bills passed by the lower House of Commons.

But its reputation has been seriously damaged recently because three of its members are facing charges over allegations of improper expense accounts, among other things.

And there have been calls for quite a while for it to be abolished all together, because some see it as a waste of taxpayers’ money.

In what some see as a publicity stunt, House of Commons Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has released Liberal Senate members from party affiliation, meaning they are free to vote as they see fit on various bills.

But Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not declare the same for Conservative senators.

And now one Conservative senator, Don Plett, is under fire from the transgender community and its supporters for introducing a so-called “bathroom amendment” — as well as two others — to a gender identity/trans rights bill that was passed by the House of Commons. The “bathroom amendment” has caused a major protest backlash in Canada that has gone global.

In fairness to Mr. Plett, the two other amendments were introduced to Bill C-279 were approved by all.

The amended bill would have to go back to the House of Commons to be approved there before it can be passed in the Senate — but they are still squabbling over the “bathroom” amendment in the Senate, with the Liberal sponsor of the bill introducing an amendment to remove Senator Plett’s amendment.

A mad tea party?


But at this point, all the amendments are moot points because time is running out on this session of Parliament, so the bill (if it ever gets back to the House) is highly unlikely to be debated before MPs break for the summer. And because Parliament will be dissolved in the autumn as an election is called, any bills before the House will die and will have to be re-introduced in the new Parliament.

Most Conservatives in the House voted against Bill C-279, but it squeaked through anyway. And many people theorize the amendments — especially the “bathroom” amendment — in the Senate to the bill were introduced with the knowledge that they would doom the bill all together.

Which brings me back to the beginning: if we didn’t have a Senate, this bill would be law now. As it should be.

So, yes, I am in favour of abolishing the Canadian Senate because why should Canadians be paying for this sort of tea party, especially if the lower House is meddling in it and influencing its votes. If it isn’t abolished, I will be voting “yes” in the next Quebec sovereignty referendum.

— Jillian