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

South Okanagan-Kootenay MP calls federal budget ‘not bold enough’

Richard Cannings, MP for South OK and Kootenay communities says budget missed the mark

Parmedics union raises alarm over spike in out-of-service ambulances

Staffing shortages affecting service levels in Kootenays

Update: Car located in Pend d’Oreille River, teenagers remain missing

A fundraiser has been set up at Kootenay Savings in Fruitvale to help support the family

Spring has sprung in the Kootenays

Showers and temperatures near the seasonal norm of 10 C are expected by Sunday

Two missing in Pend d’Oreille crash

A 15-year-old male and 18-year-old female both from Fruitvale are missing and presumed deceased

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January: B.C. coroner

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than illicit fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants

Kids found playing darts with syringes in Vancouver Island park

Saanich police is urging people to throw out their syringes properly and safely

Most Read