Thursday, September 06, 2007

Aussie-Rules Senate Reform

According to PMO spokesperson Sandra Buckler, one of PM Harper's other goals at the APEC summit this week is to pump Australian PM Howard for advice on Senate reform.

Buckler was quoted as saying: "Australia, like Canada, is a large modern diverse and urbanized federation with the Westminster model and if the Australians can have an accountable and democratic Senate, I'm not sure why Canada can't."

The Australian senate has equal numbers from each state, and no less than 6. The total number of senators is supposed to be approximately half that of the lower house of representatives. They also use a the Single Transferable Vote system.

The big criticism of their system is that small states like Tasmania have equal numbers of senators as big states like New South Wales, disproportionately distributing their representation. We've heard that before in Canada, where tiny provinces hit far about their weight in terms of per-capita voting power.

Will senate reform be the 'big vision thing' that Harper puts in his throne speech? Likely not. Its a battle the PM doesn't need to fight right now, and the plebs don't give two hoots for senate reform. There's a referendum on proportional representation in Ontario, arguably the most important potential change to Ontario politics since, well, there were Ontario politics, and nobody even cares. But a proposal for a long weekend in February? Oh wow, that got them talking....

Senate reform is going to keep on bubbling on the backburner, until some completely daft senator pulls a completely outrageous stunt to galvanize the public or piss off the PM into really taking them on.

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