Canada’s House of Cards

The Canadian Senate is the upper house in Canada’s parliamentary democracy. The original Senate, created in 1867, had 72 seats, but more seats were added as the country grew. The Constitution now directs that the Senate have 105 appointed members. The Senate was created to counterbalance representation by population in the House of Commons. In recent years, the Senate has come to bolster representation of groups often underrepresented in Parliament, such as Aboriginal peoples, visible minorities and women. (we all know how effective they are in these areas) The Senate was also intended to provide Parliament with a second chance to consider bills before they are passed. Senators may pass bills, propose amendments to them or vote to defeat them.

In other words, the Senate is a cesspool of patrinage and partisanship where politicians can thank their benefactors that help put them into power. This is a gift that keeps on giving with a healthy salary of $138,700 and an average $56,512 pension. Prior to the recent change, Senators were appointed for life but can now work until the ripe age of 75.

The most recent Canadian Senate expenses scandal is an ongoing political scandal concerning the expense claims of certain Canadian senators which began in late 2012. Senators Mike Duffy, Mac Harb, Pamela Wallin, and Patrick Brazeau claimed travel and housing expenses from the Senate for which they were not eligible. This scandal by no means comes close to the infamous Burlosconi toga parties with a 30,000€ price tag , but does show the continued mismanagement of public funds that has plagued this upper chamber for years.

If the Canadian Senate ever cared of proving their legitimacy, they sure have a poor way of justifying it. What’s even more alarming is how the Prime Ministers Office is so quick to throw them to the wolves to protect their own interests. Between November 21 and December 6, 2012, the Senate began investigating Duffy, Harb, and Brazeau’s housing expense claims on the basis that they were ineligible to make them.On February 8, 2013, the Senate hired an auditing firm to investigate the claims.

Two months later, Duffy repaid the more than $90,000 in expenses he claimed.On May 9, 2013, the Senate released a report into the expenses along with the audit, and concluded that the rules were unclear. Harb and Brazeau were nonetheless ordered to repay the expenses. As of July 25, 2013, Harb still maintained his innocence;on July 3, 2013, the Senate announced it would reduce Brazeau’s wages to repay the expenses.

Prior to the release of the Senate’s report it emerged that it had been whitewashed by the Conservative-dominated committee to reflect less poorly on Mike Duffy, who was at that time a Conservative.After two weeks of controversy, and amid concerns that Duffy was claiming travel expenses from both the Senate and the Conservative Party, the Senate reopened Duffy’s audit.

It has been proven that the Canadian Senate is ineffective, useless, and expensive. Toss in the fact that they work on average between 60-80 days per year and this can make any Canadian tax payers stomach turn.  41% of Canadians think that the it should be abolished and 41% think it should be drastically reformed. I vehemently agree with the abolishment of our Senate. How about we listen to tax payers for a change ? Let’s do something out of the ordinary and apply some common sense. Who am i kidding ? The Canadian government would rather be tortured in listening to Nickelback than to reopen constitutional talks. 

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