... and one has to ask: Is this a good thing as far as the Senate goes? Are we back to the way it was, or are we on the threshold of something new? So far, it's a bit hard to tell. We're getting mixed signals.
First, the good news. Democratic Institutions Minister Monsef this morning announced that new senators will be appointed based on recommendations made by an independent group to be known as the Senate Advisory Committee. Excellent move ... I completely endorse this approach. Indeed, I recommended something very similar five long years ago. Mind you, I wish I could take credit for inspiring Prime Minister Trudeau on this point, but sadly cannot. Not one of his team has reached out to consult with me nor, for that matter, with any of any of the independents in the Senate.
And that brings me to my second point. If the Prime Minister is sincere about creating an independent, arms' length senior institution, why hasn’t his team consulted more broadly within the institution itself? Why has he appointed a Speaker before we had a chance to express our opinion as to whom we wanted in a collective and democratic fashion? Did he and his ministers not know that that's what a critical mass of Senators are saying we want to do?
In fact, almost half of our sitting Senators convened, just one week after the election, a two day Modernization Workshop. We spent the whole time addressing measures we could take to enhance the effectiveness of our institution in a non-partisan manner. One reform that received unanimous support is our desire to have an election to determine who we would like the PM to appoint as Speaker. Sadly, that approach seems to have been overlooked ... or maybe simply the PMO didn't know about it.
Well, it's early days yet. The next step is to see how committee members are appointed. It used to be done by way of a secret deal between leaders. We'll keep you posted.