Most Canadians want more say in choosing senators, poll finds

Before the entire country became gripped in the fight against the coronavirus, Research Co. asked Canadians about their views of the upper house. Discussions about the Senate of Canada can be extremely toxic, and there has been no shortage of ideas and proposals to make the best of existing statutes.

From 2012 to 2016, the Senate was on the minds of Canadians for the wrong reasons, after the expenses of its members were examined by the auditor general. While the level of attention and dismay from Canadians fell short of what was experienced in the United Kingdom during its parliamentary expenses scandal in 2009, the situation served to harden existing negative perceptions.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Bloc Québécois have had no difficulties arguing for the Senate’s abolition. The Conservative Party of Canada attempted to make some modifications during the tenure of Stephen Harper. The Liberal Party of Canada, following its victory in the 2015 federal election, chose to switch appointments from the prime minister’s desk to an arm’s-length advisory body. Since this modification was enacted, 52 senators have joined the upper house.

Four years have passed since the first arguably non-partisan appointments to the Senate, but Canadians remain unwavering in their wish that, someday, all voters will be able to have a say in the composition of the upper house.

In the survey, only about one in 10 Canadians (9%) says that our country needs a Senate and believes the current guidelines that call for appointed senators should not be modified. Three times as many adults in Canada (27%) think that we do not need a Senate and want all legislation to be reviewed and authorized by the House of Commons.

This leaves one in five Canadians (20%) who are undecided when asked how they feel about the upper house and the largest proportion (45%) who want Canadians to take an active role in the process to choose senators.

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