Trying to fill Senate seat not priority now: Ghiz

Teresa Wright
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Catherine Callbeck looks over scrapbooks that were compiled and given to her by Janet Warren. Callbeck, who turned 75 last week officially ended her time in the Canadian Senate Friday.

Premier awaits direction from PM on future Red Chamber

Prince Edward Island now has only two senators working in the Red Chamber, but Premier Robert Ghiz says he believes it’s a waste of time to try to push for full representation in the Senate.

P.E.I. Senator Catherine Callbeck reached the Senate’s mandatory retirement age of 75 on Friday, creating a vacant P.E.I. Senate seat.

RELATED: Catherine Callbeck looks back fondly on her time in Senate

Meanwhile, suspended Senator Mike Duffy cannot attend Senate meetings or deliberations while he remains suspended.

This leaves P.E.I. with only two remaining senators able to represent the province in the Senate of Canada.

In the past, Ghiz has defended the Senate, stressing his belief in the importance it plays in helping smaller provinces and regions, such as P.E.I. and the Maritimes, to have a voice in Ottawa. But now Ghiz says he does not believe it’s worth spending time pushing Ottawa for Callbeck’s vacant seat to be filled.

“We know that today the current prime minister has been for reforming the Senate or even abolishing the Senate. He’s now got a road map to do that,” Ghiz said, referring to the Supreme Court decision on the Senate delivered in April.

“I’m just waiting to see if he wants to meet with the provinces. If not, I guess it’ll be status quo until there’s a new prime minister.”

The Supreme Court unanimously decided in April that Harper’s proposals to impose term limits on senators and create elections to choose Senate 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.

Abolishing the Senate altogether would require the unanimous consent of all 10 provinces, the Supreme Court decided.

This means the ball is in Harper’s court, Ghiz said, adding that Senate reform, for him, is an ‘afterthought.’

“The Supreme Court of Canada has said that in order to (reform or abolish the Senate) he needs to sit down with the provinces, and we know that he hasn’t,” Ghiz said.

“When I put all those facts out in front, if I spend any time really thinking about the Senate, then I’m wasting my time. So, for me, it’s really about waiting for a new government to come in and finding out what they’re going to do with the Senate, and until then, I’ve got my job to do as premier.”

But not everyone agrees this is a back-burner issue for the province.

Senator Percy Downe believes it is vital that MPs and senators alike carefully review all proposed legislation and budgets for their impact on P.E.I. and Islanders.

“Fewer parliamentarians means less ability to perform this oversight,” Downe said.

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: Red Chamber, Supreme Court of Canada

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Political scam
    July 29, 2014 - 18:40

    WHY do we need senators, Members of parliment and the 27 MLAS We have on PEI with all the down sizing and cutbacks why dont we start with the inside of political members first it makes sense to all islanders and Canadians. ...abolish the Senate and we will not have to put up with scandals anymore.

  • Liberal dong
    July 28, 2014 - 18:51

    Keep the gravy train going for all the greedy politicans just keep the trough full taxpayers só all the political swine can over gourge themselves like always.

  • Observer
    July 28, 2014 - 13:25

    Just when I thought that I had seen the last of this tunnel lady.

  • Henry J. Smith
    July 28, 2014 - 13:12

    Can't imagine a "Province" with only a little over 100,000 citizens have 3 Senators! Time to make the whole Eastern area into a "region " or at least consolidate them into one!

  • another dang twang
    July 28, 2014 - 11:14

    But who will come up with bright ideas like a National Fiddling Day?

  • ha ha
    July 28, 2014 - 09:51

    “I’m just waiting to see if he wants to meet with the provinces. If not, I guess it’ll be status quo until there’s a new prime minister.” ha ha ha Keeping it empty for yourself Robert? feeling you could lose next prov election & if Justin became PM you will become PEI senator?

  • Tough Job
    July 28, 2014 - 09:46

    It will be tough to fill the seats. Where will we be able to find two people as useless as Callbeck and Duffy.

    • voter
      July 28, 2014 - 14:35

      no problem try the fiddling hubley and percy downe -he did a lot finding jobs in ottawa for pei family compact relatives-- but that's just entitlement on a national rather than provincial base -few people would even know his name

  • Garth Staples
    July 28, 2014 - 09:04

    PM Harper and millions want a reformed elected senate OR abolish it. Ghiz wants to keep it the way it is because he and other premiers won't agree. A nice stalling political tactic

    • don
      July 28, 2014 - 12:17

      and ghiz is praying the PM gives him the job. and see how fast we will have a new liberal leader. ghiz can say all the bull crap he ants that he is not going anywhere but ghiz has LIED so many times he does not know if he is telling the truth.

  • Angus
    July 28, 2014 - 09:03

    Mr. Ghiz has the option for PEI, just like all the provinces do, to arrange for Senatorial Elections anytime he wants. Alberta has already done it. The premier does not have to wait for the PM to act. Mr. Harper has already agreed to appoint any senators elected by a provincial vote and in no way does the supreme court decision affect that. So Mr. Ghiz can have the full quorum of PEI senators appointed anytime he wants to hold an election to fill the vacancies. To try and claim otherwise is political gamesmanship.

  • Inis
    July 28, 2014 - 08:43

    Nice to save all this money from not filling the senate seats, - hope Harper is re- elected so he can find a way to get rid of it all together. Anyone seeing what Ghiz's immature , inexperienced, arrogant, silver-spoon inspired and shallow leadership has brought to PEI, cannot but refrain of voting for Trudeu, who would is acting and will be acting in the same fashion. To elect him as P.M. would be disastrous.

  • Bob MacDonald
    July 28, 2014 - 08:37

    Senator Percy Downe believes it is vital that MPs and senators alike carefully review all proposed legislation and budgets for their impact on P.E.I. and Islanders. ------------ Wouldn't we be able to do this much cheaper than using the current Senator lottery system. We could probably hire 4 or 5 people to do this work for the same price. The Senate is a joke and I'm not laughing.

  • raven
    July 28, 2014 - 08:34

    Sure hope Harper fills the seats before the next election, if on a fluke boy-toy Trudeau is elected, so we can be sure Ghiz is not in the Senate for life, after he has loafed around all these years as Premier on the back of the taxpayers. Also hope Harper will be re-elected so he can keep on working on getting rid of it.

  • JP
    July 28, 2014 - 08:27

    A strong proponent of the Senate but doesn't think filling the seat is a priority? More like filling the seat with a Tory is not a priority and hoping for a Trudeau victory next year.

  • Health Care
    July 28, 2014 - 08:14

    Could the money be better used in health care on the Island?

  • What A Crock
    July 28, 2014 - 07:42

    But now Ghiz says he does not believe it’s worth spending time pushing Ottawa for Callbeck’s vacant seat to be filled . No , why would he , he's looking for that seat for himself & needs a Liberal government in Ottawa to get it . After all , it's his retirement home as he will not be welcomed here in PEI after bankrupting this province .

  • Fed up
    July 28, 2014 - 07:06

    Not Ghiz's decision! PM selects Senators....or so all Liberals say....blaming Harper for Duffy....as already mentioned...Ghiz has his eye on it??

  • no surprise
    July 28, 2014 - 06:47

    Ghiz wants the seat left vacant so he or another Liberal will fill it if their dream of PM Justin ever comes true. He will change his tune very quickly when the political opportunity presents itself.

  • voter
    July 28, 2014 - 06:28

    i'm sure all politicians would just love to have the same reputation as callback --as long as they got the senate seat & free money --they'd take the deplorable public reputation she and michael duffy have earned -BROKEN CONTRACTS AND ALL

  • Chester L
    July 28, 2014 - 06:25

    The View From Martinvale..........Chester L 1. Our Premier never shows his hand, the vision of " further entitlement down the road " I believe is an accurate portrayal of the self served..........only the voters can make these " entitlement issues" null and void and today in PEI who really cares what happens or what goes on? , the only uproar we see is when it effects those of all walks in " Issues of Self Preservation " other than that......bring on Election time, beat the the drums a view times , lay out some BS, Photo ops and Patronage, continue to show Islanders how to waste money , do not deal with real issues and we will always get the Government we deserve.......Its Pretty easy on PEI.........life goes on so does politics.....no news here.:(

  • Hot Seat
    July 28, 2014 - 05:40

    Keep a post open Ghiz, you could have a long old life sitting in the Red Chamber.