Liberal government unveils new reform plan for Canadian Senate

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The Federal Liberal’s new plan to reform the scandal-plagued Canadian Senate by using an appointment panel under government control to fill 22 current vacancies hasn’t impressed Premier Christy Clark, or BC Senator Richard Neufeld.

Prime Minister Trudeau outlined the plan last week saying a so-called ‘independent five member advisory board’ will have a three person majority of permanent members chosen by Ottawa and two other temporary provincial or territorial members.

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For purposes of clarification, the Senate Speaker is officially appointed by the Governor-General, but on the advice of the Prime Minister. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper also shunned the idea of changing the process to allow Senate members to elect their speaker.

Meantime, Premier Clark says B.C. will not participate in the panel appointment process because it doesn’t address what’s been wrong with the Red Chamber right from the beginning.

B.C.’s objection is that it’s always been under-represented compared to provinces that joined confederation earlier — a reference to the regional appointment formula — which would take a constitutional change to alter, and gives each of the four most western provinces, six seats, but Nova Scotia and New Brunswick ten each.

The vacancy total, which has included one B.C. seat since 2012, ballooned to 22 after a string of resignations, suspensions and prosecutions.

Currently BC has the lowest representation in the country, with two Liberal and three Conservative Senators, or one for every 775,000 people in the province.

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