Joe Byrne, federal executive member with the New Democratic Party of Canada, and Mike Redmond, leader of the New Democratic Party of Prince Edward Island, have jointly called for the provincial Liberal government to advocate an end to the practice of appointing senators in Canada.
Redmond said the federal government is seeking clarification from the Supreme Court of Canada in regard to the federal government’s powers to reform or abolish the Senate.
“It is time for the government of Prince Edward Island to be crystal clear,” Redmond said. “There should be no more appointed senators, not by the prime minister, not by anybody.”
Media are reporting all Maritime governments are preparing interventions with the Supreme Court. Nova Scotia is advocating abolition of the Senate, New Brunswick is introducing a bill to establish Senate elections and P.E.I. is talking about pushing for equal representation for all provinces, said Byrne.
“The government of Prince Edward Island needs to be clear that no matter how many senators P.E.I. may or may not be allotted, it is not tolerable for tax dollars to be spent on appointed senators while health care, EI and job training programs are being cut,” said Byrne.
“There are many better ways to spend money than on political appointees.”
In November 2007, Premier Robert Ghiz indicated in the media he would not support abolishing the Senate, alluding to the constitutional provision that P.E.I.’s four Senate seats entitles the Island to four House of Commons seats.
“For 50 years, the NDP has advocated the Senate be abolished and that is what we should do in Canada today,” Redmond added. “But if Ghiz has clearly rejected this option, then he should not use his equal representation argument as a smoke screen for the Liberals to safeguard the anti-democratic practice of appointed senators.”
Byrne and Redmond both stress that in regard to Senate reform, the highest priority for Prince Edward Island is to protect representation in the House of Commons.
“The provincial government should defend the Island having at least four members of Parliament in the House of Commons in Ottawa,” said Redmond.
“That should be our bottom line. Whether the Senate ends up being elected or completely abolished, P.E.I. should use the leverage of our provincial government status to ensure our four House of Commons seats are preserved. That is the best position for the government of Prince Edward Island to take on this issue.”