The Senate’s committee on energy, the environment and natural resources has agreed to hold public hearings on Bill C-69 in every region of Canada.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Premier Jason Kenney is fast-tracking legislation to bring Alberta senate elections back from the dead.The 1989 Senate Election Act lapsed last year. Kenney said during the election he would reinstate the law should the federal government — and senators — fail to kill Bill C-69 and C-48.Last week, after a handful of Alberta senators didn’t do what he wanted on the controversial federal bills, he decided to accelerate his pledge.“Our response to the senators from Alberta who voted against this province will be to hold senate elections,” Kenney said on June 21.“Last night’s votes clearly demonstrated that elected senators — who have a direct line of accountability to Alberta voters — are much more likely to vote to defend our vital strategic and economic interests.”If the bill passes, Albertans will see senate candidates on a separate ballot when they cast their municipal vote in 2021.NDP Leader Rachel Notley said it was retreading old politics and the idea could be a wasteful proposition given the cost of running elections.“We haven’t seen the bill yet, but generally anything that would cost Albertans millions of dollars in order to legitimatize a body within which Albertans are incredibly underrepresented makes no sense,” she told reporters Tuesday.“Electing people for life doesn’t make them more effective,” she added. “It’s obviously not equal because Albertans have a fraction of the number of senators that we should for our population.”The theory is the act will allow Albertans to elect representatives to the upper chamber.However, those elections will hold zero sway at the federal level, because Alberta cannot compel the prime minister to appoint the province’s preferred candidates.“You’re quite right, the prime minister and the constitution has the unqualified power to appoint who he sees fit to the senate,” Kenney said last week.“But Alberta brought this law in 1989 when the conventional wisdom was that the idea of electing senators was crazy, and it created a political and democratic pressure on the federal government.”Kenney said the point of the bill would be to submit a list of senators chosen by Albertans “and then basically challenge the prime minister to ignore democracy.“That might happen, but at least we would have a list of people ready to roll for a government that’s committed to senate democracy,” Kenney firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com/EmmaLGraney