13 May 2007

Adding seats to Commons, feds should reform senate too

Proposed changes to representation in the House of Commons will more fairly represent Canadians across the country, irrespective of where they live.

The move is designed to avert regional tensions in the country, according to the Globe's Brian Laghi.

Well, senate reform is long overdue. Creating a senate comprising representatives elected in equal numbers from each of the provinces would restore a balance to the national parliament as a whole. represent the population fairly in the Commons. Represent the provinces - i.e the regions where Canadians live - in a new senate.

-srbp-

12 comments:

Koby said...

It is hard to imagine a worse idea.

First: Adding a mere 22 seats is hardly going change things all that much. You would have to add around 150 extra seats to even things out and virtually all of those seats would have to go to Ontario, BC, Alberta and Quebec. But to add insult to injury you suggest giving the citizens plus in the less populous regions of the country even more Federal bang by suggesting that the inherently undemocratic intellectual abortion known as a triple E senate be adopted.

People living in the less populous regions of the country already have far more clout on a per person basis by virtue of the fact that the provincial and territorial jurisdictions in which they are a member or far less populous. Comparing province to province is a misnomer. It is comparing apples to oranges. What one should be comparing is the political resources of people in any two ridings. When one does this it is abundantly clear that people in Canada’s urban centers in particular are getting the short end of the stick. Indeed, PEI and its population of 135,851 and 4 MPs, as a province, has revenue streams available to it that are simply not available to Oak Ridges Markham and its population of 169, 642 and 1 MP.

Edward G. Hollett said...

"...the inherently undemocratic intellectual abortion known as a triple E senate be adopted."

Obviously somewhere along the line you missed the part of the civics class on balanced representation in federal democracies.

The classic formula is two chambers. In the one chamber the population is represented as such. In the second chamber, the country is represented on a state-by-state basis. Call them states, cantons, or provinces.

The only intellectual abortion here would seem to be the idea that the federal parliament must solely represent population. That's the way the country has been running for quite some time. As a consequence, regional parties have emerged calling for various sorts of constitutional reform, including dismantling the country altogether.

Yours is a brilliant suggestion to continue the problems we have and, indeed, to make them worse. i applaud your solution: make things worse.

Koby said...

>>>> “Obviously somewhere along the line you missed the part of the civics class on balanced representation in federal democracies.”

The classic formula is two chambers.” <<<<

If it is not already hard enough to overcome regional power blocs in one house let alone in two. As Benjamin Franklin put it, having two equally matched houses makes as much sense as tying two equally matched horses to either end of a buggy and having them both pull. However, for most of the supporters of the “classic formula” in the States that was precisely the point. As the name of Britain’s two houses, the House of Lords and the House of Commons, indicate the purpose of having a second House was to check the will of common people and inspiration for the US senate was the House of Lords. The purpose and inspiration for the Canadian senate was the same.

Unfortunately for the US, political necessity gave US supporters of the Second House the upper hand over true democrats, such as Franklin. Agreement was not possible unless the smaller states were given the power to override, or at the very least temper the will of the majority of Americans. The slave owning south, for one, wanted to insure that the institution of slavery was maintained.

>>>> In the one chamber the population is represented as such. In the second chamber, the country is represented on a state-by-state basis. Call them states, cantons, or provinces.

The only intellectual abortion here would seem to be the idea that the federal parliament must solely represent population. That's the way the country has been running for quite some time. As a consequence, regional parties have emerged calling for various sorts of constitutional reform, including dismantling the country altogether. <<<<

You do realize that this would mean that Quebec’s share of the House of Commons would go from 25% to 22.5 % under my suggestion. Anyway, to call Quebec separatism a byproduct of Canada’s mode of government is joke. The sociological basis of separatism is the historic inequality of Quebec’s Francophone majority; equality of Anglophones and Francophones is separatism's most dangerous foe. As for feelings that gave raise to the Reform party, it was born of Mulroney’s willingness to sell the farm to Quebec in return for Constitution peace. The desire for a Triple E senate was born out of the belief that however populous and economically powerful the “West” might become central Canada was cooking the books such that the power of “the West” would never reflected in House. They were right; under the Charlottetown Accord Quebec would get at least 25% of MPs. Now, even the though “Western” Canada is birth place of the Triple E Senate Western, outside of a few brain dead Reform dinosaurs in Alberta, people in BC will not look kindly on attempts to give, for example, more power to the contracting population of NFLD at the expense a rapidly increasing population of BC. What goes for BC also holds for Ontario and it goes without saying Quebec.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Koby:

Where exactly did you find this Franklin quote?

It's funny that you use it given that Franklin is credited with developing the bi-cameral compromise currently used in the US legislature. The federal nature of the country is reflected in a chamber having equal representation of the constituent states. For the guy you claim opposed the Senate, he did a fine job of creating it.

Your grasp of Canadian history seems to be decidedly limited as well. The Canadian Senate was not intended to "to check the will of common people" and the United States Senate was not created for that reason either.

Perhaps you'd be good enough to cite some sources for what Eugene Forsey used to call "unfacts".

As for the rest of your comment it seems to be a rather bizarre set of conclusions drawn from your equally bizarre recounting of history.

If you've got some references for your claims, that's great, but simply making preposterous claims as if they were fact, well, let's just say there are a bunch of Quebec nationalist and Nl nationalist that welcome that sort of stuff.

Koby said...

>>>> Where exactly did you find this Franklin quote? <<<<

The May 2004 issue of Harper’s magazine. “He spoke openly at the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention against a two-chamber legislature, which he likened to ‘putting one hoarse before a cart and the other behind it, and whipping them both. If the horses are of equal strength, the wheels of the cart, like the wheels of government, will stand still.’”

>>>> The Canadian Senate was not intended to "to check the will of common people". <<<<

It certainly was designed to check the “democratic excesses” of the Lower House as John A MacDonald put it and it was modeled after the British system. That said, I went too far in saying the US senate was modeled after the House of Lords. When Paine argued for a single house, Adams described it thus “so democratical, without any restraints or even an Attempt at any Equilibrium or Counterpoise.” However, Adams' arguments did not carry the day. The US Senate was first and foremost a political “compromise” that just happened to dovetail nicely with Adams undemocratic inclinations. Adams got what he what he wanted, viz., “checks and balances”. Adams was the author of that celebrated Orwellian phrase. By the way, it should be noted that there were 2 times as many people in the 4 States that voted against then in the 5 States who voted in favour.


>>>> As for the rest of your comment it seems to be a rather bizarre set of conclusions drawn from your equally bizarre recounting of history. <<<<

You have put the cart before the hoarse. Yes 1980s constitutional struggles gave raise to the Bloc, but that was hardly the first chapter. As noted by McRoberts and Postgate the most enduring legacy of the Lesage administration was the new importance Francophone Quebecers placed on the state. Over the course of the 1970s, Francophones increasing saw the state, as opposed to the religion for example, as the guardian of Francophone culture and language and provincial legislation as the primary means of attaining economic equity with the Anglophone minority. The success of government action in improving the economic lot of Francophones, helped transform the tenor of the traditional survivance discourse. Robert Gill describes the change thus: “Whereas survival – cultural, linguistic and religious – was the communal goal of Quebec’s ‘traditional’ nationalism, the goal of the new nationalism has been boarder including development as well as survival.” As Anne Griffith put it, ‘the ideal of la survivance is not dropped, but there is a new emphasis on the quality of survival.” The rapidly improving lot of Francophones, by the 1980s they were on par with Anglophones, and the role government linguistic legislation was said to have played in making this possible made it politically impossible for any Quebec premier to sign on to the constitution without guarantees that tools the Francophones used to lift themselves by their bootstraps could not be touched.

As for the “West”, columnist Rafe Mair was widely regarded as having expressed what Westerners found so distasteful about the accord. “The hard, cold fact is that in the Far West at any rate, and probably in other parts of the country, the notion of an official constitutional veto for Quebec, her official designation as a "distinct society" and a permanent 25% of the seats in the House of Commons is simply not on.” Sounds exactly what I said.

Edward G. Hollett said...

There are at least two mistaken propositions in your comments, Koby, which form the basis of the rest.

The first is on the senate, its function in a federal state and on what certain Americans may have said about how their own country ought to be governed.

You essentially quote selectively without looking at the whole. The three quotes you offer and the opinions you note for Adams and Paine, for example, reflect both the individual views and, in the case of Franklin, a view he demonstrably did not hold over time.

After all, he did accept the notion of a balanced legislature as it was established. The issue in his comment, namely what deadlock might occur if both houses had equal powers, was addressed in several ways.

In relation to that, your comment that checks and balances is an "Orwellian term" seems to me to be bordering on the hysterical. it is certainly without any factual foundation.

The American constitution, as an example of typical federal structures, is designed to provide a variety of checks and balances.

For example, the separation of powers within the federal government - judicial,executive and legislative - is obviously intended to provide a check against any one branch predominating. [This balanced situation does not exist in Canada, but more on that below]

Generally speaking, within the legislative branch the framers of the constitution balanced the federation in several ways. The population was represented in the House while the constituent states of the federation are represented equally in the Senate.

The senate, however, is elected on the basis of the same franchise as the House. It is not appointed by the state legislators or state governors. It is not selected on the basis of aristocracy or any other similar notion.

It is far from anti-democratic, as you contend and it would be a mistake, just as Rosenfeld was mistaken, to base an entire argument on the position taken by one or two of the framers without regard to the whole.

Your comments on democracy seem to be based on another fallacy: a unicameral legislature is not synonymous with democracy, as you seem to contend.

Canada, for example, has enjoyed democratic government since 1867. The legislature in Ottawa is elected - at least in the House -on the basis of what is now universal adult sufferage.

The same can be said of the provinces and in the case of Newfoundland, that was the general situation that obtained when Newfoundland was a Dominion in its own right prior to 1934.

In both instances (Canada and Newfoundland), there existed - and in Canada exists - an appointed second chamber. In Canada, it was appointed initially to represent the original regions making up the country.

It has long been established that this chamber was intended to provide what is euphemistically called "sober second thought" but it was also intended (at least initially) to provide some voice for regional concerns.

This is one of the enduring themes in large federal states. That is, individual citizens are concerned not only that they enjoy universal sufferage but they wish to ensure that the more populous regions do not enjoy the power, solely by virtue of their numbers, to override any concerns of the people living in other places within the same country.

This is analogous to the concern of any minority to ensure that they are not run over roughshod. The notion, of providing a check and a balancer, is evident in all federal states and it continues to be a concern in Canada. You will find discussion of this in just about any introductory text on Canadian federalism.

I find it astonishing that you would argue against what you perceive as "anti-democratic" and then advocate what amounts to an essentially undemocratic process in which the raw majority vote can accomplish anything.

What manner of injustices have we seen when such a notion has been applied ruthlessly?

Many parliamentarians - democrats all - have recognized this over the centuries. It is one of the reasons why they advocate bi-cameral legislatures, especially in large federal states.

All of that serves as a neat transition to the second of your mistaken propositions.

I noted in my original comment the following: "As a consequence, regional parties have emerged calling for various sorts of constitutional reform, including dismantling the country altogether."

I did not focus on Quebec alone and your second mistaken proposition has been to focus on Quebec.

In Canada currently, the federal parliament and hence the federal government is dominated entirely by the more populous provinces, specifically Ontario. The senate is a weakened and almost entirely ineffective chamber.

The executive is drawn from the Commons and, as a consequence, more populous provinces have much larger representation at the cabinet table than Prince Edward island, for example.

In many parts of the country, there is a perception that the country is controlled primarily by Ontario and Quebec.

This has engendered concerns across the country (outside of Ontario for sure) that the original intention of Canada as a balanced federal state has been undermined if not destroyed entirely.

Quebec nationalists and separatists make their arguments. Similar arguments can be found in western Canada and in Newfoundland. This is the point you miss entirely, given your pre-occupation with Quebec.

These views are not confined to what you cavalierly dismiss as "braindead Reformers". The views are held much more widely.

The response to Meech and Charlottetown was founded, as much as anything else, on a reaction against a range of proposed reforms that would have had the result of, in the view of a great many Canadian:

1. reinforcing the domination of the federal government by Quebec and Ontario; and,

2. creating a second problem, namely that Canadians in Quebec and particularly the Quebec provincial government would de facto secure a special status that would provide substantively more powers to one part of the country in comparison to the rest.

This is what Rafe Mair was driving at, but it was not at all anything like what you said. That is, it is not what you said if you simply focused on your proposition that a certain province ought to have this level of representation and therefore Quebec would gain 25% of the Commons seats.

The one portion you noted in two comments, namely the guaranteed share of the Commons would, of course, generate opposition.

That proposal, had it succeeded, would have gone directly against the basis of selecting members of the Commons, i.e. that in the Commons, all Canadians are represented equally based on population.

In and of itself, adding seats to the Commons is long overdue. Some areas of the country will see a decline in representation and others a growth. This is only reasonable and logicial given the basis for election to the Commons. My original post supported the idea and if that wasn't clear, then let's make it clear now.

However, the current federal parliament needs additional reform, particularly in the senate. It is in the senate that all provinces can be represented equally.

There is no logical reason to believe, as you apparently do, that British Columbians would reject senate reform merely because the population of one province or another is in decline.

To the contrary, British Columbians ought to appreciate the idea that an elected, equal and effective senate would give to British Columbians additional voices elected on the basis of a broader constituency to further strengthen their voice in the federal parliament.

The whole basis of the reforms I have suggested in abbreviated form - taken together - is to address both the need to fix the population representation and at the same time to correct the long-standing imbalance in the federal parliament that tends to skew national policy toward more populous provinces.

It seems fairly obvious. That is, unless you wish to toss aside over 200 years of federalist theory and established practice in federal states across the globe.

It is also fairly obvious unless you wish to pick the individual bits that support your contentions and ignore the whole.

You have certainly picked selectively with a skill that is breath-taking.

Koby said...

>>>>> In relation to that, your comment that checks and balances is an "Orwellian term" seems to me to be bordering on the hysterical. it is certainly without any factual foundation.
The American constitution, as an example of typical federal structures, is designed to provide a variety of checks and balances.
For example, the separation of powers within the federal government - judicial, executive and legislative - is obviously intended to provide a check against any one branch predominating. [This balanced situation does not exist in Canada, but more on that below]

Generally speaking, within the legislative branch the framers of the constitution balanced the federation in several ways. The population was represented in the House while the constituent states of the federation are represented equally in the Senate.
The senate, however, is elected on the basis of the same franchise as the House. It is not appointed by the state legislators or state governors. It is not selected on the basis of aristocracy or any other similar notion. <<<<<

Senators were only elected after 1913. Anyway, what empty formalism all this is. You completely ignore what it meant in practical terms for the US to have an appointed yet “effective” senate. Again, Adams was the author of the famous phrase and it was quite clear just what he wanted “checked”, viz., “The people’s house”. He got his wish. I will let Richard Rosenfeld explain.
“For eighteenth-century Americans as well as for the English, the purpose of a second chamber was really to protect wealth and aristocracy from the demannds of a democratic majority. As historian Jackson Main has written, "The theory of balanced government suited colonial political figures because it justified their resistance to both monarchy and democracy, and at the same time it also justified upper-class rule."
In all this, Adams was an American exemplar, drafting a first constitution for his home state of Massachusetts that divided legislative power among a house of representatives (members were required to posess at least 100 pounds in property), a senate (senators, at least 300 pounds in property), and a governor (at least 1,000 pounds in property), each with the power to veto the other two and each to be elected by constituencies meeting specified qualifications for wealth or property. In describing the Massachusetts senate to its citizenry, the state's constitutional convention wrote, "The House of Representatives is intended as the Representative of the Persons, and the Senate of the property of the Commonwealth." In his own defense of Massachusetts's two-chamber legislature, Adams extolled a "natural aristocracy," which he found "formed partly by genius, partly by birth, and partly by riches." He asked rhetorically, "How shall the legislator avail himself of their influence for the equal benefit of the public?" Then without hesitation, "I answer, by arranging them all, or at least the most conspicuous of them, together in one assembly, by the name of a senate."
When the delegates gathered to draft a new federal constitution in 1787, most states had a senate or legislative council as a check on their more representative lower houses. With few exceptions, states imposed higher property qualifications on those who voted for or served in state senates than they did on those who voted or served in state lower houses. Coupled with religious tests for holding public office (i.e., Christianity in Deleware, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, speficially Protestantism in New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont, Connecticut, and Georgia), these property qualifications elevated many state senates to the functional equivalent of the British House of Lords, meaning a bastion of "spiritual and temporal" aristocracy. Therefore, when the federal Constitutional Convention decided in 1787 that U.S. senators would be appointed by state legislatures rather than elected by the people at large, the drafters were actually placing the choice of U.S. senators in the control of state leaders who had met their states' highest qualifications for property and religion.”

>>>> It has long been established that this chamber was intended to provide what is euphemistically called "sober second thought" but it was also intended (at least initially) to provide some voice for regional concerns. <<<<

Of course. However, it was also designed to protect the interests of the propertied class from “democratic excesses” of the house. Hence would be senators had to have property and were not elected, but appointed. You seem hell bent on avoiding what most historians regard as an uncontroversial and obvious conclusion.

>>> “This is one of the enduring themes in large federal states. That is, individual citizens are concerned not only that they enjoy universal sufferage but they wish to ensure that the more populous regions do not enjoy the power, solely by virtue of their numbers, to override any concerns of the people living in other places within the same country.

This is analogous to the concern of any minority to ensure that they are not run over roughshod. The notion, of providing a check and a balancer, is evident in all federal states and it continues to be a concern in Canada. You will find discussion of this in just about any introductory text on Canadian federalism. <<<

As most of Canada’s ethnic minorities are in Canada’s most populace provinces and cities introducing a second “effective” “elected” and “equal” house would diminish the political clout of these minorities. That is just an aside though.

>>>> “I find it astonishing that you would argue against what you perceive as "anti-democratic" and then advocate what amounts to an essentially undemocratic process in which the raw majority vote can accomplish anything.” <<<<

What I find astonishing is that you can sit there with a straight face and say, despite the obvious substantial power of the provinces, that a truly representative House of Commons, unchecked by a Triple E senate, can accomplish “anything”. The power the provinces hold already takes care of such concerns. There is nothing that justifies minority drag on majority opinion at a federal level.

>>>> The response to Meech and Charlottetown was founded, as much as anything else, on a reaction against a range of proposed reforms that would have had the result of, in the view of a great many Canadian:

1. reinforcing the domination of the federal government by Quebec and Ontario; and,

2. creating a second problem, namely that Canadians in Quebec and particularly the Quebec provincial government would de facto secure a special status that would provide substantively more powers to one part of the country in comparison to the rest.

This is what Rafe Mair was driving at, but it was not at all anything like what you said. That is, it is not what you said if you simply focused on your proposition that a certain province ought to have this level of representation and therefore Quebec would gain 25% of the Commons seats. <<<<

Come again. I said that the “West's” beef with Ottawa was that no matter how populous and economically powerful the West might become the books were being cooked such that power would always reside in Ontario and Quebec. This is what Mair said. I added that they were right and cited the fact that Quebec was guaranteed at least 25% of the seats in the House of Commons. Their growth was checked. Needless to say, when I said that discontent was born of Mulroney’s willingness to sell the farm to in order to buy constitutional peace that Western Canadians were not at all pleased with special power given to Quebec. Rafe Mair said that as well. I went on to say that the “West” would not be willing to again have their growing demographic clout checked by provinces that are not growing or in the case of NFLD shrinking.

>>>> There is no logical reason to believe, as you apparently do, that British Columbians would reject senate reform merely because the population of one province or another is in decline.

To the contrary, British Columbians ought to appreciate the idea that an elected, equal and effective senate would give to British Columbians additional voices elected on the basis of a broader constituency to further strengthen their voice in the federal parliament. <<<<

There is no support among the chattering classes in BC for an “effective” senate in its current or for that matter a Triple E senate. This is not at all surprising. Regionalism is not the defining force in BC politics anymore. As elsewhere in country, the spilt is more urban rural and urban/suburban then East West. No self respecting Vancouverite sees themselves as allied with a Sask farmer against the social “elite” in Eastern Canada. They are much more likely to side with urban professionals in Toronto and Montreal in battle against that Sask farmer over issues such as gun control and gay marriage. Any attempt to empower Canada’s less populous provinces in a way that would check the power of Canada’s major population centers is frowned upon.

Edward G. Hollett said...

It is pretty clear you've made a decision and have decided that somehow electing representnatives is "Orwellian" and a"anti-democratic".

It seems to be based on what occurred 200 years ago in the United States versus what is the case today either in Canada or the United States.

As for a unicameral legislature in Ottawa, you obviously have missed the much wider basis of regional discontent. Sadly you seem to know far more about what occured in the US in 1787 than what is taking place in Canada today.

Overall, I'd characterise your ideas as bizarre, viz this comment "No self respecting Vancouverite sees themselves as allied with a Sask farmer against the social "elite" in Eastern Canada." Since that isn't what the discussion was about, what else can one call the comment but, well, bizarre.

Koby said...

“As for a unicameral legislature in Ottawa, you obviously have missed the much wider basis of regional discontent. Sadly you seem to know far more about what occured in the US in 1787 than what is taking place in Canada today.”

No it is you that is missing what is taking place outside of Alberta and to a lesser extent the Maritimes. After the election this was one of the central themes: “Results of Canada's 39th general election reveal an apparent urban-rural divide in voting patterns as Conservatives were unable to pick up a single seat in the country's three largest cities.
Voters outside of urban, downtown areas in places like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, were much more likely to cast their ballots for the Conservatives.
Inside those centres, many more voters tended to support the Liberals, the NDP or, in Quebec, the Bloc Québécois. ….” http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2006/01/24/urban-rural-060124.html

British Columbians are by no means united in outlook. Vancouver and Prince George are very different places. Where this relates back to the issue of a triple E senate is this. On a number of various contentious issues the country is divided down the middle with Vancouver, Montreal and Toronto solidly on one side of the debate the rest of the country the other. Vancouverites recognize full well that triple E senate would mean that the city would always be on the loosing side in any such debate. The major parties would be unwilling to adopt policies that are sure losers in senate elections and this would especially hold if party discipline in the Senate was not a rigid as in the House.

So yes while British Columbians are no doubt aware that a Triple E senate will allow the minority of the population to trump the majority of the population of Ontario and Quebec, the mathematical possibility, which you bizarrely limit yourself to talking about, has little appeal to most, albeit a slim majority, of British Columbians, given the practical consequences of such a senate. They realize full well, in ways that you simply do not, that social liberalism’s wings would be forever clipped by such a senate.

Edward G. Hollett said...

Koby:

I give you full marks for being able to put phrases together that defy understanding.

For example, in this paragraph:

"So yes while British Columbians are no doubt aware that a Triple E senate will allow the minority of the population to trump the majority of the population of Ontario and Quebec, the mathematical possibility, which you bizarrely limit yourself to talking about, has little appeal to most, albeit a slim majority, of British Columbians, given the practical consequences of such a senate. They realize full well, in ways that you simply do not, that social liberalism’s wings would be forever clipped by such a senate."

Let's start at the front end of it. "...the minority of the population to trump the majority of the population of Ontario and Quebec,...".

The minority of the population would not trump the majority at all. You consistently make the mistake of assuming that democracy equals majority rule or some equally simplistic formula. That isn't the purpose of a balanced federal, bi-cameral legislature. Your polemical interpretation isn't made a fact merely because you repeat it so often in one form or another.

That leads us to the next bit: I have not bizarrely limited myself to anything. You're the fellow who is fixated on alternately the united States circa 1790 and Quebec.

Then there's that last bit: "social liberalism's wing will be clipped."

On what basis do you make that sort of a ludicrous assertion, except of course by your simplistic way of translating the comments of a few Americans 200 odd years ago into the 21st century, stripped of anything ike context.

it would seem to have a couple of simplistic propositions and you just run around with them as you see fit.Like I said before: Fill your boots.

Just don't be surprised if no one else believes electing a senate based on universal adult sufferage is some sort of plot against democracy and liberalism merely because an 18th century American said something once that you contend was elitist and aristocratic.

leap forward a few centuries in your thinking. The (Revolutionary) war is long over.

Koby said...

“Just don't be surprised if no one else believes electing a senate based on universal adult sufferage is some sort of plot against democracy and liberalism merely because an 18th century American said something once that you contend was elitist and aristocratic.”

What the hell? Remember how this all started. The Franklin quote was on point and I then gave what I thought would be a quick historical aside. “As Benjamin Franklin put it, having two equally matched houses makes as much sense as tying two equally matched horses to either end of a buggy and having them both pull. However, for most of the supporters of the “classic formula” in the States that was precisely the point. As the name of Britain’s two houses, the House of Lords and the House of Commons, indicate the purpose of having a second House was to check the will of common people and inspiration for the US senate was the House of Lords. The purpose and inspiration for the Canadian senate was the same. ….” You then blew the issue open by saying I was spewing “unfacts”.

>>>> Then there's that last bit: "social liberalism's wing will be clipped."

You are more rigid, unimaginative and dogmatic then I thought. Take the issue of SSM. The country was pretty much evenly spilt on the issue with most polls showing a slight majority of Canadians in favor. The polls showed that support was highest in Quebec and lowest in Prairies. In fact polls consistently showed the two were mirror images of one another. (40 60 and 60 40) With regard to the other provinces, however, the polls were all over the map.
Had a triple E senate been in place Alberta and Quebec would have canceled each other out. (There were a decent amount of polls that did not lump Alberta in with other provinces and they showed the aforementioned breakdown.) However, the number of eligible voters in Quebec (5.852 million) is more than twice as much as the population of Alberta (2.322 million). As result, the picture would have changed dramatically. 50 50 would morph into 47.6% 52.4%. Furthermore, province by province the situation would be even worse. It would be a winner in none of the remaining provinces, but a huge looser in two, viz., Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
What is true with regard to SSM holds generally. Quebec is the most socially liberal province in Canada and an outlayer in many polls. If Quebec’s demographic clout is neutralized, then social liberalism in dealt a real blow.

However there are examples not involving Quebec. Consider the decriminalization of marijuana. A study of opinion polls in 1998 found that small majority were in favor. However, this time BC and the Maritime provinces were mirror images of each other. BC was 63 37 in favor the Maritimes 37 63 against. Quebec and Ontario were equally divided and the prairies, surprise surprise, disapproved. All told the issue was a winner in but 1 province, a nothing issue in two, a looser in 7, a massive looser 4 and a slight majority of Canadians were in favor. In other words, one would be nuts to go to the polls in either house with this issue even though a majority of the population supported. Indeed, what use would be it to run with it in the House of Commons and risk a divisive campaign when it would do nothing but hurt in senate elections?

>>>>> You consistently make the mistake of assuming that democracy equals majority rule or some equally simplistic formula. That isn't the purpose of a balanced federal, bi-cameral legislature.

It should be pretty clear that I think the upper portion of a balanced federal bi-cameral legislature is nothing more than an aristocratic/plutocratic corpse dressed up post hoc in Tocquevillian language that obscures the fact that provinces and states, almost by virtue of their very existence, have more than enough power to fend off the “Tyranny of the majority.”

>>>> “Your polemical interpretation isn't made a fact merely because you repeat it so often in one form or another.”

Rich. You have cited and again and again the very presence of “balanced federal, bi-cameral legislature” as proof of a second house democratic bona fides even though I never disputed that such houses exist and the issue in question is whether or not such houses are in fact democratic. BY THE WAY, the US founding fathers would certainly beg to differ with you.
James Madison; “The Senate ought to come from, and represent the Wealth of the nation.” John Dickerson: “the Senate to consist of the most distinguished characters, distinguished for their rank in life and their weight in property, and bearing as strong a likeness to the Birtish House of Lords as possible.” Edmund Randolph: The Senate is “to restrain, if possible, the furry of democracy.” Benjamin Rush: “Mr. Adam’s book has diffused such excellent principles among us, that there is little doubt of our adopting a vigorous and compounded federal legislation.” John Adams: a single house would be “so democratical, without any restraints or even an Attempt at any Equilibrium or Counterpoise.”

While I am on the subject of rhetorical slight of hands, the necessity of US framers to come up with a “compromise” and that they learn to hang together least they hang together does not turn that necessity into a virtue.

To end off I have a question to ask. I am not sure what kind of representation the territories would get as part of Triple E senate, but I assume you would not want them to be at the mercy of the tyranny of the majority either. I am correct? After all, saying that 135,000 Islanders deserve the same number of senators as 12,160,000 Ontarians is but a hop and undemocratic step from saying that 30,0000 people who live in Yukon deserve the same number of senators as the aforementioned Ontarians.

Edward G. Hollett said...

"It should be pretty clear that I think the upper portion of a balanced federal bi-cameral legislature is nothing more than an aristocratic/plutocratic corpse dressed up post hoc in Tocquevillian language that obscures the fact that provinces and states, almost by virtue of their very existence, have more than enough power to fend off the 'Tyranny of the majority.'"

It is pretty clear that's what you think. It should also be pretty clear I think your reasoning is specious, at best and your "evidence" is pretty much non-existant.

As I said, your polemical conclusions are not facts merely because you keep repeating them or merely because you believe them.

People believe Elvis is still alive and living in Brandon or that alien corpses are stored in Area 51, but that doesn't make these things facts or reality except within the confines of their own skulls.

Recent decisions on Equalization by the Government of Canada appear to be directly related to the views of the more populous provinces and Quebec.

Your claim in the paragraph above would be obvious nonsense in light of the evidence directly in front of your nose.

"Had a triple E senate been in place Alberta and Quebec would have cancelled each other out."

Huh?

In the midst of a rather lengthy discussion about a vote on equal marriage you come to the conclusion that having equal numbers of senators from each province would somehow have defeated the bill solely based on your own extension of certain polling results.

You make way too many assumptions and extrapolations from an extremely limited basis.

That's basically the same problem you have when you quote several 18th century commentators and then say there! the senate is an anti-democratic, elitist plot.