Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Senate's New Independence So Good It Should Be Enshrined in Law: Harder

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Senate's New Independence So Good It Should Be Enshrined in Law: Harder

Article excerpt

Sen. Harder pushes for permanent reforms

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OTTAWA - The Trudeau government's changes aimed at making the upper chamber a more independent place have worked so well that they should be made permanent, the Liberals' representative in the Senate says.

Sen. Peter Harder is urging parties vying for power in the Oct. 21 election to promise to change the law so that future prime ministers would also use an independent, arm's-length appointment process to name new senators.

"I think Canadians would prefer a Senate that is less partisan, that seeks to improve legislation where appropriate, but doesn't view itself as a challenging chamber to the political legitimacy of the House of Commons," Harder said in an interview.

"We should encourage governments of the future to not only act in that spirit, but also to legislate and make some amendments to the Parliament of Canada Act that entrenches this less partisan, more independent Senate."

The call for a more permanent transformation came in a report that Harder released on Thursday, which looks back over how the changes have played out over the past several years and concludes, unsurprisingly, that they were for the better.

"The Senate is serving Canadians with a greater number of contributions to improve federal legislation and public policy, while staying faithful to its original constitutional role and thereby renewing public trust," said the report.

The report notes the House of Commons accepted at least some of the amendments the Senate put forward on 29 of the 88 bills the Liberal government managed to bring into law throughout its mandate.

Other recommendations in the report include bringing in independent oversight over expenses and making sure that independent senators and non-partisan parliamentary groups that form within the Senate get the same rights as those who sit in partisan caucuses. …

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