The Senate is Canada’s Symbol of Stagnation and Needs to be Reformed

Written By Mark C. Wilcox, Posted on May 27, 2021

The prevailing wisdom among politicians is that the voters are not likely to want to know how their government actually works. The same wisdom implies that the collective eyes glaze over when faced with information regarding the same. After all, it is the job of our MP’s and Senator’s to perform these functions. Therefore, you seldom see long and in-depth information on such coming from political types.


I am not a politician and I believe that our electorate not only wants more information now but in fact needs to be properly involved. Not being involved and allowing Canadian apathy (I consider myself reformed from my own apathy towards politics) to run its course has led us to leaders such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In other words, it has been a disaster for Western Canada. I do not feel context is needed for that statement however, debt, SNC Lavalin, India trip, Jody Wilson-Raybould. The list goes on and on.

In Canada, we have an upper and a lower house in the Commons. The lower house, commonly referred to as Parliament is where I am asking my voters to send me. This is where bills and introduced and debated then subsequently voted upon and finally these bills are sent to the upper house. The upper house is commonly known as the senate. The Senate has the right to vote down any bill or pass it on for royal assent from the Governor General. The Senate also has the option of sending a bill back to the lower house for further debate. Here we arrive at my point of this article. Senators in Canada are appointed, by the Governor General on the advice of the sitting Prime Minister. Once appointed a senator may hold that seat until the age of 75 when they must retire. 

(Photo from Inroads)

(Photo from Inroads)

Therein lies the major issue, senator appointments. Each Prime Minister relishes the task of senate appointments, it is a legacy appointment. The appointed senator will typically endure long after the Prime Minister has been voted out or left public life. The result of an appointed senate is an upper house that does not keep lockstep with the changing “moods” of the country but remains beholden to the political will of the Prime Minister who appointed them. This causes a heavy stagnation in Canada’s political system, with Senators, appointed decades ago, simply rubber-stamping whatever the current iteration of their party wants, and providing no useful input into the system, while collecting a $150,000 salary every year.

Senator Mike Duffy (Photo from CTV News)

Senator Mike Duffy (Photo from CTV News)

You may have heard the term “Triple-E” senate. Credit to Ted Byfield for coining the term. Equal, Elected, and Effective. A major part of fixing the inequalities in Western Canada lies in electing versus appointing senators. Senators need to be accountable not to the Prime Minister or past Prime Ministers but to the electorate they are representing. My belief is that they should be voted on every 8 to 12 years. If a senator is performing adequately and addressing the concerns of their citizens, they get to keep their job. If not, enjoy the pension I suppose. 

To bring the above into action, we need Maverick Party MP’s elected in Western Canada. In a subsequent article, I will write on why simply electing Maverick politicians won’t be enough, but it will be a start. It is a constitutional issue…..Think Quebec and their recent amendment request.

Mark C. Wilcox

One response to “The Senate is Canada’s Symbol of Stagnation and Needs to be Reformed”

  1. Mark Skagen says:

    I heartily agree with your take on this. The Canadian system is theoretically designed to have "brakes applied to a rampant uncontrolled Government. The Senate is one of those brakes. The Gov.General is another, also the Courts and the RCMP. unfortunately we have no Gov General, stacked Courts, hand picked RCMP Commissioners, and appointed Senate. Not much there for braking power. Thereby allowing our PM to do whatever suits his fancy. Time for change everyone, time for Maverick