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Conservatives should look to Sir John A for inspiration to abolish Senate

Canada’s conservative movement gathered Saturday at the Manning Networking Convention to consider the sorry state of the appointed Senate. Jeremy Harrison, House leader for the Saskatchewan government, made the case for abolition, saying the Senate has been “irreparably” harmed and has “failed the test of being effective.” Poilievre prefers an elected Senate, saying the Liberal […]

Canada’s conservative movement gathered Saturday at the Manning Networking Convention to consider the sorry state of the appointed Senate.

Jeremy Harrison, House leader for the Saskatchewan government, made the case for abolition, saying the Senate has been “irreparably” harmed and has “failed the test of being effective.”

Poilievre prefers an elected Senate, saying the Liberal plan to appoint people from a panel of non-elected people “would be government of the elites, by the elites, for the elitists.”

Speaking of elites, the best place to look for inspiration to put the institution out of its misery is the country’s first Prime Minister, Conservative icon Sir John A. Macdonald.

“We must protect the rights of minorities, and the rich are always fewer in number than the poor.”

It was 1864, and Macdonald offered up this argument for an appointed Senate for the landed class. He was at the Quebec Conference to discuss Canadian Confederation and the construction of the Senate.

So how do you make sure the rich have a check on the commoners? Insist on a property requirement, ensuring an upper chamber of the propertied class.

Canada didn’t have a proper tradition of hereditary aristocracy to stuff into an upper chamber, like Britain’s landed aristocracy, so we settled on a compromise for an appointed Senate of those who owned property.

Sir John A. Macdonald on an appointed Senate

Photo: entozoa. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.

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