Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Time for talk is past.

This is the email I sent to Premier Brad Wall (with copies to NDP Leader Cam Broten and my MLA) earlier this afternoon regarding the planned Senate abolition resolution in the Saskatchewan Legislature.


I was very excited to hear that you intend to introduce a Senate abolition resolution in the Saskatchewan Legislature this fall. However my excitement swiftly turned to disappointment when, on reading the story further, I discovered that you are intending to introduce a “mind of the House” resolution rather than an actual constitutional amendment.

With respect, sir, this is a very grave strategic and tactical error.

As ably set out in this piece by Ian Peach, former Dean of Law at the University of New Brunswick and former constitutional advisor to the governments of Saskatchewan and Yukon, all that is required to initiate the process leading to Senate abolition is for the House of Commons or any provincial legislature to introduce the necessary amending resolution ( Dean Peach specifically recommends a “clean” resolution as follows:

That Sections 21 through 36 of the Constitution Act, 1867 be repealed.
(Please note that the initial reference to the wording of the resolution in the article transposes the second digits of the section numbers. Dean Peach corrects this in the comments section.)

The long and tedious processes leading to the patriation of the Constitution in 1982 and to the failed Meach Lake and Charlottetown proposals has created the false assumption that prior agreement is either necessary or advisable before initiating the amendment process.  In fact the Meach and Charlottetown experiences more aptly show that such comprehensive processes result in provincial governments creating constitutional wish lists, followed by extensive horse trading and backroom dealing which, in turn, render the final product politically unviable.

The current Senate scandal shows conclusively that time for talk is past and the time for action is upon us. A “mind of the House” resolution offers no real progress to advance this long festering issue towards a conclusion. By contrast, an amending resolution from the Saskatchewan Legislature starts the three year clock on a long overdue process to abolish the Senate. Instead of mitigating the bad smell of scandal, we will have begun to drain the cesspool.

You and your Government, with the support of Mr. Broten and the Official Opposition, have a chance to demonstrate real leadership on this file. I beg of you not to squander this opportunity.

Malcolm French

PS: I will be posting a copy of this email to my blog at later today. It would be my intention to also post your response in due course.


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