Premier rejects Trudeau plan for Senate

Independent panel doesn't fix B.C.'s under-representation in the Senate, Christy Clark tells Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Former B.C. Liberal energy minister Richard Neufeld is one of five people currently representing B.C. in the Senate. He reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75 in 2019.

Premier Christy Clark wasted no time rejecting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to reform the Canadian Senate through an independent panel to appoint new senators.

“B.C. will not participate in the process outlined today to appoint senators,” Clark said in a statement released Thursday. “Our position has not changed; the Senate should be fixed or folded but we should not be distracted by it.”

Trudeau delivered this week on a promise to fill the 22 current Senate vacancies via a five-member independent advisory board, starting with five appointments in the new year. Three of the five panel members are to be chosen by Ottawa, with two temporary provincial or territorial members named for each appointment.

“Today’s changes do not address what’s been wrong with the Senate since the beginning,” Clark said. “It has never been designed to represent British Columbians or our interests at the national level.”

B.C.’s objection is that it has always been under-represented, compared to provinces that joined confederation earlier. Constitutional change would be required to replace a regional formula where Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and the West have 24 seats each.

That translates to six seats each for B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have 10 each, despite relatively tiny populations. Currently, B.C. has one senator for each 775,000 people, the lowest representation in Canada.

B.C. currently has five senators, with former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell and former Liberal Party vice-president Mobina Jaffer appointed as Liberals. Conservative appointments are Nancy Greene Raine, Yonah Martin and Richard Neufeld, a former B.C. Liberal energy minister.

B.C. has had a vacancy since the retirement of former Conservative MP Gerry St. Germain, who reached the Senate’s mandatory retirement age of 75 in 2012.

Senate reform was a key part of the recent federal election campaign, after a string of resignations, suspensions and prosecutions of senators including Liberal Mac Harb and Conservatives Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau. Harb and Duffy are facing charges of fraud and breach of trust over alleged misuse of expense allowances.

Trudeau expelled all Liberal senators from the party caucus before the election. The Conservatives hold a majority in the Senate, which could allow them to hold up Liberal legislation.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Boundary non-profits now eligible for emergency funds

Local charities can apply to get grants from the $40,000 pot, managed by the Phoenix Foundation

Trial date set in Castlegar RCMP shooting death

Constable Jason Tait has elected a jury trial.

Drive-in theatre proposed for Grand Forks

City councillors will vote next month on whether to permit the use of the private property

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Snow expected to hit West Kootenay passes overnight on Thursday

Up to 15 cm of snow could fall on Highway 3 between Paulson summit to Kootenay Pass by Friday morning

B.C. records no new COVID-19 deaths for the first time in weeks

Good news comes despite 11 new test-positive cases in B.C. in the past 24 hours

BC Corrections to expand list of eligible offenders for early release during pandemic

Non-violent offenders are being considered for early release through risk assessment process

Fraser Valley driver featured on ‘Highway Thru Hell’ TV show dies

Monkhouse died Sunday night of a heartattack, Jamie Davis towing confirmed

B.C. visitor centres get help with COVID-19 prevention measures

Destination B.C. gearing up for local, in-province tourism

36 soldiers test positive for COVID-19 after working in Ontario, Quebec care homes

Nearly 1,700 military members are working in long-term care homes overwhelmed by COVID-19

B.C. poison control sees spike in adults, children accidentally ingesting hand sanitizer

Hand sanitizer sales and usage have gone up sharply amid COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. man with Alberta plates gets car keyed and aggressive note

Some out-of-province people are finding hostile reception due to COVID-19 worries

Most Read