Senate ruling good news for P.E.I., says Ghiz

Teresa Wright
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Premier Robert Ghiz speaks to reporters at the P.E.I. legislature. Guardian file photo.

Premier Robert Ghiz says the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that Ottawa cannot unilaterally reform the country’s Senate is good news for Prince Edward Island.

Ghiz says P.E.I.’s submission to the court argued the federal government cannot make changes without the consent of the provinces.

Canada’s top court agreed.

“This is not only good for this decision, but for other decisions… it shows that a provinces still do have a say, regardless of their size and that was an important component when we look back to the forming of our nation,” Ghiz said.

In a historic, unanimous decision, the Supreme Court advised that the prime minister’s proposals to impose term limits on senators and create a “consultative election” process to choose nominees cannot be done by the federal government alone.

Rather, the court said such reforms would require constitutional amendments, approved by at least seven provinces representing 50 per cent of the population — a route fraught with political landmines that Harper had hoped to avoid.

Moreover, the court set the bar even higher for abolishing the Senate, something Harper has threatened to do if his reform agenda is stymied.

Getting rid of the chamber altogether would require the unanimous consent of all 10 provinces, the eight justices said.

Harper sought the top court’s advice after a number of provinces, including P.E.I., strenuously objected to the federal government’s plans to proceed unilaterally with its reform proposals.

Ghiz said Friday he realizes the Senate is not perfect, but that’s not the issue.

Ottawa simply cannot make sweeping changes like reforming or abolishing the Senate without working with the provinces - even the smallest one, he said.

“It was a good decision from Prince Edward Island’s perspective that we can’t be steamrolled. Yes, we may be small, but we still do have a say on important constitutional matters in our country.”

Ghiz did not want to get into the details of the reforms that have been proposed by the Harper government, saying the Red Chamber and its goings on are not one of his priority concerns.

But he also doesn’t believe Senate reform was really one of Harper priorities either.

“The Senate wasn’t really at the top of his agenda, I think it goes back to the old Reform agenda, where Reformers wanted to get rid of the Senate,” the P.E.I. premier said.

“I think it was just something that was more of a distraction than anything else.”

Ghiz said he hopes the feds will now turn their attention to more important issues facing Canadians, like funding for health care and support for post-secondary education.

“Let’s forget about the Senate,” Ghiz said.

“Let’s allow it to do their job and for those Canadians who are upset with the Senate, perhaps pay a little more attention to it and watch who prime ministers are appointing.”

With files from The Canadian Press.

Organizations: Supreme Court of Canada, Red Chamber

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Ottawa, P.E.I. Canada

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Recent comments

  • Chester L
    April 26, 2014 - 20:14

    The View From Martinvale.............Chester L Yes He Does..........makes the best statement speaking to recall..........we need that simply because if those we elect have no recourse when they are not doing their job.......It is the highest level of " Public Troughing ".....The MLA is recalled by the District and put on notice and then not change , out you go and we look for new nominations.......This works in other jurisdictions and then would prevent those " who only see the MLA's job as a 2 term pension for life " now not having that parachute but will be fired if they " do not do their job"........We have to have Accountability, Honesty and Transparency in our Political system not just a free for all and Cash Grab at all Taxpayers expense.........This goes for Feds to and as far as the the lot of them or dismiss them now as most are already pensioned off......the time is past for such lunacy of " A chamber of Sober Second Thought " and they have no real power as they are not elected but are being paid for WHAT.......a lot can be done by 2016 to clean up PEI politics and get some distinction between what makes a Liberal and Conservative..........What is the difference today.....somebody tell me.....thanks for the space Guardian.;) Yes He Does April 26, 2014 - 07:41 @ Stewart Smith , yes he does have the right to speak for us until we the people insist on RECALL being part of the next election platform regardless of party . I & mine will not be voting again until this is enacted . Believe it's one of the most important items that PEI need's today if we are ever going to get our Island back on track & away from the crook's .

  • walter
    April 26, 2014 - 18:13

    Look, why should Ghiz not be looking for a senate seat-- Seeing his mentor Down`s lifestyle, any one would want to emulate that, if the chance was given. You people vote Trudeau in, and chances for a Senator Ghiz looks mightily likely. So it is up to you folks.

  • Garth Staples
    April 26, 2014 - 16:26

    The small view of the problem.

  • pouff
    April 26, 2014 - 12:12

    Ghiz wouldn't be looking after his own nest, would he? Ask joe public and see what they think. Referdum on it.

  • tune r up
    April 26, 2014 - 11:53

    Good question Joe Doe. How about a senate fiddle and diddle day?

  • wolf
    April 26, 2014 - 07:58

    "Ghiz did not want to get into details etc." Of course not, he can't grasp it. An intelligent debate is not his forte'. Have a referendum, Mr, Ghiz and get the opinion of the people, - then speak, after all you are representing us, or so it is supposed to be.

      April 26, 2014 - 10:49

      I think we need to abolish the Senate or change it to an elected Senate that has some teeth, like the American Senate. This is just a retirement place for old particant wh***s. But remember, if abolished, PEI loses 4 voices in Ottawa.

  • keith
    April 26, 2014 - 07:50

    More Ghiz drivel, --- and to think the taxpayers had to pay for him to send a lawyer friend to the Supreme Court hearings, to argue against our their own best interest. Sad state of affairs, - sad state.

  • ralph
    April 26, 2014 - 07:37

    Just to satisfy himself, that he is right and speaking for Islanders, why not, just for fun, ask Islanders as an aside in the next election, if they agree with him on not abolishing the Senate. It would tell Mr. Ghiz how to react, should the Prime Minister ever come asking..

  • What he
    April 26, 2014 - 06:49

    What he wants is for Justin Trudeau to be elected PM & give Ghiz a senate seat. No more - no less.

    • sammy
      April 26, 2014 - 19:59


  • voter
    April 26, 2014 - 06:19


  • voter
    April 26, 2014 - 06:15

    ask the local politician if he/she/it has enough guts to side with constituents rather than following the party line !!!

    April 25, 2014 - 21:48

    He says it's good for PEI, despite the fact that most islanders would love to see it gone or changed. he is just salivating at the idea of getting himself the golden handshake, and has proven time and time again, he couldn't care less about the people of PEI.

    April 25, 2014 - 19:43


  • Bill Bradley
    April 25, 2014 - 19:10

    What a crock of something, Mr.Ghiz know that he is on his way out and wants to secure his retirement, which I believe is why he agreed to a few more than one of the conditions of the HST for PEI when some many Islanders have been against it. How can he say that he doesn't want Ottawa to "unilaterally " change the country while he takes the buy-out and adheres to Ottawa dictatorship currently portrayed by the current Federal government?

    • don
      April 27, 2014 - 07:05

      ghiz is not on his way out he will be put back in and will retire as bully of PEI. the ndp has no one,the pc's has no one. the only one can can do anything for PEI is olive crane but she needs a party. so ghiz is not worried about losing the next election. but after he bankrupts PEI beyond any help he will then step down.

  • So bring in free elections for senate candidates
    April 25, 2014 - 18:36

    Since the next Provincial election is so far away why not have free elections for senate candidacy to "democratically" get in. We should also vote if we want to keep the senators we have or replace them with elected Senators for the people first, the party never.

  • patrick
    April 25, 2014 - 17:00

    Someone has their eye on a senate seat by the sounds of that.

  • dave anger
    April 25, 2014 - 16:09

    what good is the senate but a waste of taxpayers money send the senate back to England .

    • BNB
      April 25, 2014 - 22:29

      Hear, Hear, they can take the Supreme Court with them, Forget about it Ghiz says, and in the next paragraph, pay attention to them, what is it Ghiz? Bet if it was a Liberal govt in Ottawa, you'd be all over a wise initiative to bring that useless bunch to order.

  • Sure
    April 25, 2014 - 15:34

    Sure he agrees , after all it's his retirement home when PE Islanders finally smarten up & put the boot to him .

  • Stewart Smith
    April 25, 2014 - 13:39

    Ghiz has no idea what is good for PEI. Letting the Irvings wreck our environment and poison our drinking water? Considering allowing Fracking? Ignoring decades of reports on how to fix the environmental issues? I don't think he has the right to speak for us any more.

    • Yes He Does
      April 26, 2014 - 07:41

      @ Stewart Smith , yes he does have the right to speak for us until we the people insist on RECALL being part of the next election platform regardless of party . I & mine will not be voting again until this is enacted . Believe it's one of the most important items that PEI need's today if we are ever going to get our Island back on track & away from the crook's .