An Open Letter to Mr. Thomas Mulcair concerning the “withering on the vine” of the Canadian Senate

I sent this by email this evening [July 10, 2014].

Mr. Mulcair.

I have volunteered on the campaigns of both MP Linda Duncan and MLA Rachel Notely. For some time I donated monthly to the NDP, even though my income precludes any benefit from tax credits (which only benefit the wealthy, by the way, so the NDP really shouldn’t be pushing them). I am proud that my riding, Edmonton-Strathcona, is the only non-CPC riding in Alberta.

Some time ago I stopped my monthly donation because I truly cannot in good conscience support a party which has as its goal the abolition of the Senate, one of only two (appointed, by the way) institutions which can constitutionally stand in the path of an out of control executive with a majority in the House.

Today I learned that you, Mr. Mulcair, supported the absurd and constitutionally impossible idea of simply ceasing to appoint new Senators, the idea that the Senate might simply “wither on the vine” without the need for nasty Constitutional meddling.

Have you read our Constitution, Mr. Mulcair? The Constitution Act, 1867, sec. 91 clearly requires that ALL new legislation receive the consent of the House AND the Senate before Royal Consent may be considered, never mind granted:

91. It shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate and House of Commons, to make Laws for the Peace, Order, and good Government of Canada, in relation to all Matters not coming within the Classes of Subjects by this Act assigned exclusively to the Legislatures of the Provinces; and for greater Certainty, but not so as to restrict the Generality of the foregoing Terms of this Section, it is hereby declared that (notwithstanding anything in this Act) the exclusive Legislative Authority of the Parliament of Canada extends to all Matters coming within the Classes of Subjects next hereinafter enumerated; that is to say, etc.

Never mind the rest. The important part is “With the Advice and Consent of the Senate”. That’s it, right there in Section 91 of the Constitution Act 1867. No Senate to give consent, no legislation by Parliament.

How do you propose to pass ANY legislation after the fading of the Senate? Any legislation granted Royal Assent without the consent of the Senate – an impossibility if there are no Senators – would be the subject of a completely legitimate and necessarily successful court challenge. Any simplistic attempt to allow the Senate to “wither on the vine” would not lead to enhanced democracy. Rather, it would lead to Legislative paralysis, Judicial gridlock, and a lawless, anarchic Canada.

I am disappointed that you, Mr. Mulcair, have made public statements about the Senate which show either a tragic ignorance of Canada’s Constitution, or, an paternalistic attitude to what you must think an ignorant and gullible populace. Your misguided targeting of the Senate strikes me as cheap opportunism and a sad lack of integrity. You seem to be trying to make an end run around both Canada’s Constitution and the hard working citizens of Canada.

I’m disappointed.


John Richardson


One comment on “An Open Letter to Mr. Thomas Mulcair concerning the “withering on the vine” of the Canadian Senate

  1. […] don’t want Thomas Mulcair to be Prime Minister.  penopenHis pigheadedness and apparent ignorance about our Senate frightens me.  I don’t want Stephen Harper to be […]

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