Apart from the typo in the date (I've been the acting manager of a correspondence unit so I have great sympathy), the most telling thing about the letter is that it is clearly a form letter intended to respond to the bulk of the Premier's correspondents on this issue, and that it presumes there would be some explicit or implicit criticism of the Premier's move from supporting Senate reform to supporting Senate abolition. I don't have an issue with a standard response, and it does address my criticism up front.
November 19, 2013
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DirectorPremier's Correspondence Unit
Novmeber [sic] 18, 2013
Dear Mr. French:
Thank you for your email regarding the future of the Canadian Senate.
As you know, the Government of Saskatchewan has passed a motion supporting the abolition of the Senate. Although not a constitutional amendment, this motion stands as a statement of Saskatchewan’s official position on the Senate to the rest of Canada. Our province may consider a constitutional motion in the future, but will wait to hear the Supreme Court of Canada’s impending ruling on what precisely is required constitutionally to abolish the Senate.
I have long been an advocate of Senate reform, to make the Senate elected and more accountable. However, the complete lack of progress in this regard, coupled with the growing cost, ineffectiveness and lack of accountability of the Senate has caused many people, including myself, to conclude that the more realistic solution is to work toward abolishing the Senate.
While abolishing the Senate will not be easy, meaningful reform is impossible and the status quo is unacceptable in my view.
Some provinces have begun electing Senators, who are then appointed by the Prime Minister. While this may be a small step in the right direction, it still presents a number of problems. First, all Senators including elected Senators serve until age 75 and do not have to stand for re-election every four years like MPs or MLAs. Nor are we any closer to equality reform wherein each province would have equal representation.
Finally, the fact that many provinces have indicated they will not elect Senators means we would be left with a hybrid Senate, only partially elected, lacking accountability and representational imbalance. While the election of some Senators would give the appearance of more legitimacy, I believe this would be a false legitimacy for the reasons I have just listed.
Additionally, there is no guarantee that a future Prime Minister would appoint the elected nominees to form any Senate. For example, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has stated publicly that he supports the status quo.
It is an interesting debate and I appreciate your views. One thing that virtually all Canadians agree upon is that the Senate should not continue to exist in its current form as an undemocratic, unelected institution that is costing Canadian taxpayers nearly $100 million a year.
Thank you for taking the time to write.