Saturday, June 20, 2015

Quick update on the Senate

Just the numbers; the drama won't fit into a single blogpost.

At this time, there are 49 Conservative senators. They caucus with the Tories.

There are 29 members of the Liberal Senate Caucus. This is an Independent caucus that does not sit with the Liberals from the Commons.

There are 7 other Senators, including Independents, and "Progressive Conservatives", as well as those kicked out of their original Caucus, or suspended from the Senate.

Next week A senator will retire. A second will do so before the Election. Thus the standings when the new government takes office, or, the old one is sworn back in, will be as follows:

47C//29L//7O//22V - with V standing for Vacancy.

There is a legal challenge working it's way though the courts with the intention of forcing the PM to appoint senators given the large number of vacancies. This may go nowhere, or may become an issue, and if so, it will likely impact the next (IE post-election) government and not this one.

If held on schedule, the 2019 election will take place in October.

At that time we will have seen many more Senators retire. The NDP has stated the wish to starve the Senate, one way to do this might be to refuse to appoint any Senators. Given the NDP's lead in the polls at this time, I will presume they win the next election and do not appoint any Senators. Note this is only for the sake of example, I am not making an official projection here.

This would mean that the government elected in the 2019 election would be faced with the following Senate:


This means slightly under half the seats are vacant.

If we presume the NDP (in this example) were to be re-elected with another majority, then by the 2023 election, we would be looking at the following:


At this point the Senate would quite likely cease up and stop working. However, it is interesting to note...

If no changes are made to the Senate by this date, that means whoever is elected in this election could control the entire chamber. This could easily become this:


if the Greens won, for example.

Anyway, my point is that unless we change the Senate in some significant way (one such way might be that legal case I talked about being backed by the court) then we will have to wait until the government elected in 2023 to actually make any real change.


  1. If forced to pick senators by the Courts, Mulcair could appoint coma patients, it would technically fill the vacancy, but in practice it would remain vacant.

    The true is Mulcair has an ace in the hole for abolushing the senate, 1) the CPC Senate Cacus who will be counted on block NDP legislation at every opportunity. If the Provibces want provinces want they're provincial transfers, they will sign the amendment to the constitution 2) A Quebec NDP challenging Premier Couillard for the National Assembly.

    People think only the provinces have leverage, this is not the case.

    1. No Mucair could not fill a vacancy with a coma patient (typical NDP thinking trying to circumvent the constitution). Senators need to swear an oath!

      The Canadian Government can not simply refuse to hand over provincial transfers that are guaranteed under the constitution! More NDP illegality and a perfect example of why people should not trust the NDP: The NDP is prepared to run roughshod over the Constitution and not abide by the Constitution nor the rule of law. The NDP makes a set of rules for themselves and makes everyone else play by another set of rules-what double-standard hypocrisy!

      The Supreme Court was clear: Senate abolition requires constitutional negotiations and agreement among at least 7 provinces and Parliament!

    2. Sorry Teddy but that is the NDP logic; tell Canadians they will circumvent the Constitution. People should be aware of the fallacy Mulcair is speaking.

  2. The Supreme Court recently stated that the federal government would need the permission of all ten provinces to re-open the constitution. I highly doubt a hypothetical NDP government will quibble with the constitutional issues of senate reform in its first or even second mandate.

    Mulcair is a shrewd politician. I will not be surprised if an NDP minority government starts appointing senators. Mulcair could claim that he had no choice but to appoint senators to push his progressive agenda. Moreover, Mulcair could state that since the all provinces are not on board and that the NDP only has a minority government he cannot do much about abolishing the senate.

    I also do not see electoral reform under a first term NDP government. If the NDP get into power that means FPTP has benefitted them, why would they give the Grits or Greens a lifeline?

    1. Because the NDP might elect to think for the long term.

    2. Just as all NDP governments in this country have, right?

    3. Absolutely right Big Jay the NDP has achieved Government in 6 provinces and thus far they have initiated electoral reform 0 times! Mulcair will appoint senators otherwise legislation will not pass-everbody knows it and it is a perfect example of NDP hypocrisy and double-speak!

    4. The NDP has had a long-term position opposing the Senate.

      If Harper is allowed to get away with not appointing anyone (before the election) then the NDP will do the same until ordered to do otherwise by someone with the power to order a majority government around (IE the courts) and if no such order is ever given, the NDP will never appoint a Senator.

    5. Teddy,

      That would be irresponsible if any Government refused to appoint Senators, at some point the Government will lose quorum and legislation will not be able to pass and the NDP will have created another constitutional crisis.

    6. I never said it was not irresponsible.

  3. The Conservatives are the Tories! Tory is a colloquialism "nick name" for a Conservative! If you guys don't know that maybe you should take some Canadian history and political science courses before commenting on Canadian politics. I don't have a problem with Americans such as yourself commenting on Canadian politics but, at least try and use the correct terminology-really amateur stuff.

    1. Not sure who this was directed at, but the original comment appears to have been deleted.