VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Senate might have to go back to its roots, says a political observer.
The Mike Duffy trial highlighted how senators’ expenses were racked up as they performed duties outside of Ottawa. Duffy took on Conservative party fundraising while other senators travel to make appearances across the country.
“I think we’re stuck with this institution, so we have to make it work,” says UBC political scientist Max Cameron, who points out full-out reform of the Senate will be almost impossible to accomplish, given the need for all provinces to agree.
He feels it’s time to return to more traditional roles for senators.
“Historically, it’s been understood to be a voice of regions and a voice of sober second thought. What we want to do is see the institution return to its function for fulfilling the purpose for which it was designed.”
He wonders if senators should be more impartial, going forward.
“Take electoral reform. If the government puts forward a proposal for electoral reform and the majority of senators who are part of the Conservative caucus oppose it, will they obstruct that?”
Two years ago then Liberal leader Justin Trudeau ousted all Liberal senators from his caucus, effectively making them independents, although they are still considered allied with the Liberal party.
Meanwhile, senators flagged as inappropriately billing the government for expenses have until April 22 to repay.
BC senator Gerry St. Germain still owes $67,000. In a statement made last year, he said he was exploring his options for dealing with what he called baseless and unsubstantiated accusations.