Harper Government Advances Senate Reform

Ottawa, ON (February 1st, 2013) – The Honourable Tim Uppal, Minister of State for Democratic Reform, and the Honourable Claude Carignan, Senator and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, today announced the launch of a reference on Senate reform to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Government looks forward to receiving the Supreme Court’s opinion on what is required to reform the Senate and what is required to abolish the Senate.

“Our Government believes that the Senate must change in order to reach its full potential as a democratic institution serving Canadians,” said Minister Uppal.  “The Harper Government received a strong mandate to pursue Senate reform and today we are taking action to further our goal of a more democratic, effective and representative Senate.”

This is the first time in a generation that the Supreme Court will consider the constitutional amending process for reform to the Senate.  The questions referred seek legal certainty on the constitutional amending procedure for:

  • Term limits for senators;
  • Democratic selection of senate nominees;
  • Net worth and property qualifications for senators; and
  • Abolition of the Senate.

“The Senate plays an important role in our parliamentary system as senators make and review laws that directly affect Canadians,” added Senator Carignan.  “Canadians deserve a more democratic Senate and the Supreme Court reference will help to advance progress towards that goal.”

Should a favourable opinion be received from the Supreme Court, the Government intends to continue to pursue the passage of the Senate Reform Act.  The Act would continue through the normal parliamentary process from its current status at second reading in the House of Commons.

For further information, media may contact:

  • Kate Davis
    Director of Communications
    Office of the Minister of State (Democratic Reform)

Follow the Minister on Twitter: @MinTimUppal

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