What to expect as ‘modernization’ comes to the Senate

Posted January 24th, 2019 by admin and filed in 长沙夜网
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As government bodies go, Canada’s Senate hasn’t exactly been the most popular kid on the block in recent years.

Questions surrounding expenses, a partisan appointment process and the high-profile trial involving Sen. Mike Duffy have taken their toll, and led some (including the NDP) to suggest that the Senate should just be eliminated completely.

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    But one group of senators who banded together to create a “modernization committee” says the answer is to bring the Red Chamber into the 21st century, and on Tuesday they released a series of recommendations aimed at doing just that.

    The rest of the Senate still needs to review their suggestions and decide whether to implement them. The changes would be separate from the reforms to the Senate appointment process that the Liberal government unveiled earlier this year.

    “It’s a first step, these are only recommendations,” cautioned Sen. André Pratte in response to Tuesday’s report.

    If the changes go through, however, here’s what Canadians could see.

    Televised debate

    House of Commons debate has been broadcast live on television for many years, and the idea to do the same in the Senate has been floated before. It’s just never taken off.

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    Equipping the current chamber with cameras would cost over $2 million, so the modernization committee is recommending that online broadcasts be set up for now. Once the Senate moves to Ottawa’s old train station in 2018 (to allow for the Centre Block to be renovated over a period of 10 years) the television cameras could be installed.

    More power for independent senators

    If the Senate approves it, the definition of “caucus” could be expanded to include any group of nine or more senators “who are united for a parliamentary or political process.”

    That would include a growing group of independent senators who are not formally affiliated with any political party in the House of Commons.

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    The modernization committee is also recommending that any new groups qualifying under the expanded definition would get funding for research and at least one seat on every Senate committee.

    No more omnibus bills

    The modernization committee says omnibus bills — legislation that touches on a variety of different topics that are all crammed into one giant bill — are too difficult to move through the Senate in one chunk.

    They want to figure out a way to divide these bills by subject and vote separately on each piece, “so senators and Canadians can properly study their implications.”

    More money

    The senators pushing for updates want more money specifically to allow Senate committees to leave Ottawa for hearings. The committees would be permitted to travel in order to study “potential regional impacts” in proposed legislation, or “where significant or important.”

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