Court challenge on prolonged Senate vacancies no longer holds water: Ottawa
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, January 23, 2016 8:28AM EST
OTTAWA - The federal government says now that it has created a new process for appointing non-partisan individuals to the Senate, a court challenge over prolonged vacancies in the upper house holds no water.
But Aniz Alani, the Vancouver lawyer who launched the challenge, says the courts should still determine whether a prime minister can allow Senate seats to sit empty indefinitely.
He says the new appointment process may yet face lengthy delays and adds that both the NDP and Conservatives maintain Senate vacancies should be allowed to pile up until the chamber is effectively abolished by attrition.
Alani wants the Federal Court to declare that there's a constitutional obligation to fill vacant Senate seats within a reasonable time.
And he says the courts must clarify if the prime minister has absolute discretion to fill Senate vacancies when -- or if -- he chooses.
He launched the case a year ago when then-prime minister Stephen Harper refused to fill Senate vacancies.