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

Midway seniors voice hopes, fears for aging in village

The village will host another public forum on aging on July 17

BCSS graduates off to new adventures

The BCSS Class of 2019 is the 50th cohort of Grade 12s from the school

Category 3 fires to be prohibited in Southeast Fire District

The prohibition will take effect at noon on Wednesday, June 12

Passion for planes takes off

The Grand Forks Flying Club is trying to build young interest in aviation

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

Most Read