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Simple answers to Complex Questions and Complex Answers to Simple Questions. In real life, I'm a Greater-Toronto (Canada) Realtor with RE/MAX Hallmark Realty Ltd, Brokerage. I first joined RE/MAX in 1983 and was first Registered to Trade in Real Estate in Ontario in 1974. Formerly known as "Two-Finger Ramblings of a Forensic Acuitant turned Community Synthesizer"

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

Independence of Senators - Sen Nolin -Winnipeg Free Press

Subject: response to Winnipeg Free Press - Sen. Nolin -independence of Senators

To: nolinp@sen.parl.gc.ca .
Cc: Rt Hon Stephen Harper

Senator,
This may or not make it into paper. But I thought you could use it for ammunition.

Editor,
Re: Tory plan for elected Senate comes under attack from Tory senator -Winnipeg Free Press --spotted on http://www.bourque.com/

Is anyone aware of the reason that Senators swear a special Oath (Sch. 5 of BNA 1867) and declare their property-ownership & net-worth qualifications for office?(and further swear that they have not collusively or colourably acted to qualify).

If the BNA described an elected (Lower)House (that any voter could be elected to) ... WHY did the Confederation-crafters (here & in the UK) feel the need for an Upper House (ie superior in the power Hierarchy) that had this express property-ownership & net-worth qualification(and DISqualification) s.23 &s.31?

Upper House Members (since we had no "Lords" to appoint) were to be relatively "well-to-do" folks selected equally from the 3(now 4) "Divisions"(now referred-to as regions) of the country NB with an allocation specified, province by province, within each divisional/regional representation area, where applicable.

The intention was to have Senators represent the interests of the Propertied Class within their Div/Region - not at all about party, and not necessarily a 'whole province/division' either ... the Senate was intended to represent the property-owners OF that division/region - since everyone in every province has their own elected-for-any-old-dumb-reason reps in the Lower House.

Senators were intended to represent this class of Canadian, because in pre-Income Tax times, this group (notwithstanding Customs Duties and Excise Taxes) would have to PAY for any initiative through their property taxes.

All these as-written 1867 provisions are still perfectly valid - including s.26 wherein the Upper House may be augmented by 4 or 8 members by a recommendation of the Governor General, thus allowing the Executive (ie the Monarch-in-{UK}Council + the GovGen + the Cdn Privy Council) to overpower a legislative deadlock with the Lower House --recent e.g. the GST Senators.So, to Sen. Nolin's point ...YES Senators ARE independent of Party-irrespective of 'who brung 'em.

Indeed Senators were specifically created to double-check and deny passage of ANY measure deemed unacceptable to the Senators -without any fear of retaliation at election time AND indented to deny/amend any fiscally "un-sustainable" Money Bill that must originate in the (now party-dominated) Commons.

Sadly, the original $4,000 amount of Senator net-worth and property-qualification/disqualification has been eroded by inflation - it's the only dollar amount in Canada that's never been 'seasonally-adjusted'. Some folks say the adjustment would equal 60 times $4,000 others say 80 times - either way, if adjusted, the 2010 sum would be a more 'representative' figure for our property-owning & taxpaying class of citizens AND if adjusted, would dynamically change the public preception of mandate the Senate.(NB we are subjects-of-the-Canadian Crown actually, only 'republics' have citizens)

A pity!

Perhaps a Plain Language version of the Constitution would make knowing the as-written provisions of our foundational Laws more accessible.

Robert Ede,

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