Premier rejects Trudeau plan for Senate

Independent panel doesn't fix B.C.'s under-representation in the Senate, Christy Clark tells Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Former B.C. Liberal energy minister Richard Neufeld is one of five people currently representing B.C. in the Senate. He reaches the mandatory retirement age of 75 in 2019.

Premier Christy Clark wasted no time rejecting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plan to reform the Canadian Senate through an independent panel to appoint new senators.

“B.C. will not participate in the process outlined today to appoint senators,” Clark said in a statement released Thursday. “Our position has not changed; the Senate should be fixed or folded but we should not be distracted by it.”

Trudeau delivered this week on a promise to fill the 22 current Senate vacancies via a five-member independent advisory board, starting with five appointments in the new year. Three of the five panel members are to be chosen by Ottawa, with two temporary provincial or territorial members named for each appointment.

“Today’s changes do not address what’s been wrong with the Senate since the beginning,” Clark said. “It has never been designed to represent British Columbians or our interests at the national level.”

B.C.’s objection is that it has always been under-represented, compared to provinces that joined confederation earlier. Constitutional change would be required to replace a regional formula where Ontario, Quebec, the Maritimes and the West have 24 seats each.

That translates to six seats each for B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, while Nova Scotia and New Brunswick have 10 each, despite relatively tiny populations. Currently, B.C. has one senator for each 775,000 people, the lowest representation in Canada.

B.C. currently has five senators, with former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell and former Liberal Party vice-president Mobina Jaffer appointed as Liberals. Conservative appointments are Nancy Greene Raine, Yonah Martin and Richard Neufeld, a former B.C. Liberal energy minister.

B.C. has had a vacancy since the retirement of former Conservative MP Gerry St. Germain, who reached the Senate’s mandatory retirement age of 75 in 2012.

Senate reform was a key part of the recent federal election campaign, after a string of resignations, suspensions and prosecutions of senators including Liberal Mac Harb and Conservatives Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau. Harb and Duffy are facing charges of fraud and breach of trust over alleged misuse of expense allowances.

Trudeau expelled all Liberal senators from the party caucus before the election. The Conservatives hold a majority in the Senate, which could allow them to hold up Liberal legislation.

Just Posted

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

Four-legged evacuees, Vanderhoof

Local physician opens up her property for 60 dogs and numerous horses

Fire Command Centre Base of Operations, Vanderhoof

Crews from all over B.C. waiting for their call-out

Four Rivers Co-op collecting donations for wildfire relief

The co-op is matching all donations they receive for the Red Cross

B.C. team stays alive in Little League World Series after another nail-biter

Surrey-based squad scored a 6-4 win over Mexico reps in Williamsport on Monday

Kids, seniors at risk as smoke from distant fires hangs over parts of B.C.

B.C. Centre for Disease Control says children’s lungs don’t fully develop until about age 10

B.C. mother charged in 7-year-old daughter’s death appears in court

The 36-year-old mother, of Langley’s Aaliyah Rosa, has been charged with second-degree murder

VIDEO: Teen soccer phenomenon Alphonso Davies to visit B.C. kids camp

The 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecap player is one of the youngest players in MLS history

New plan to lift more than two million people past the poverty line

Anti-poverty strategy will aim for 50 per cent cut in low-income rates: source

Liberals scrap lottery system for reuniting immigrants with their parents

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

Bear kills off-leash dog in B.C. park

There have been nearly 200 pet or livestock and bear encounters so far this year

Most Read