Mulcair vows to consult premiers on abolishing 'archaic' Senate if elected
Michelle Zilio, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, June 7, 2015 10:40AM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, June 7, 2015 11:44PM EDT
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says he would sit down with the premiers to discuss the future of Canada’s “archaic” Senate if elected.
Mulcair told CTV’s Question Period that in his travels across the country, he has not met “a single person in any province” who supports maintaining the Red Chamber.
If the NDP forms government following the fall federal election, Mulcair says he would take the question of Senate abolition to the provinces, which, along with the Parliament, would have to unanimously agree in order to scrap the Upper House.
“I’m convinced that with good faith, open approaches, we’re going to be able to get to solutions that will allow us to get rid of this archaic system, which is called the Senate, and go to something positive and hopeful for the future.”
The official opposition leader acknowledged that some provinces will have “specific demands.” Quebec and P.E.I., for instance, have expressed concerns about representation in Parliament without designated Senate seats.
The NDP has called for the abolition of the Senate for years. Mulcair said he is confident that following consultations with the provinces, his party would be able to “roll up the Red Carpet.”
Mulcair’s comments come as the Senate Speaker sent the section of the auditor general’s audit dealing with nine senators’ questionable expense cases to the RCMP for a formal investigation. The highly-anticipated audit, which cost taxpayers $21 million, will be made public on Tuesday.
It will name 30 current and former senators who are said to owe the Upper Chamber a total of $978,627 worth of questionable expenses, with five senators owing a combined $546,000. While the portion of the report dealing with the nine most-troubling cases has already been sent to the RCMP, the 64 pages dealing with the other 21 senators will not be sent to the Mounties.
CTV News has learned the names of 29 of the 30 senators who will be named in the audit next week; 17 are sitting senators, while the other 12 are retired. The list consists of 15 Conservatives -- eight of whom were appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper – 13 who were appointed as Liberals, and one Independent senator.
CTV News also now knows the amounts that four of the 30 senators owe:
• St. Germain - $55,000
• Kenny - $35,000
• Zimmer - $176,000
• Boisvenu – close to $50,000
Mulcair encouraged the Senate to “act” on the findings involving Kenny and Boisvenu, whose cases have been referred the RCMP.
The Senate recently appointed former Supreme Court of Canada justice Ian Binnie as a special arbitrator for senators looking to dispute the report’s findings. Three high-profile senators -- Speaker Leo Housakos, Opposition Leader James Cowan and Conservative Leader Claude Carignan -- who were named in the report as having problematic claims, were involved in the appointment of Binnie.
Mulcair condemned the appointment process as an affront to “natural” justice.
“There’s a basic rule of what’s called natural justice and it says you that can’t be a judge in your own case. But isn’t that what we’ve got here?” said Mulcair. “(Housakos) should have had nothing to do with that. He should have recused himself but instead he’s trying to get himself off the hook.”
CTV News has previously reported that Ferguson’s Senate audit cost $21 million, and has uncovered $978,627 of questionable expenses.