BRITISH COLUMBIA

Christy Clark Issues Terse Reaction To Liberal Overhaul Of Senate Appointments

12/03/2015 03:34 EST | Updated 12/03/2016 05:12 EST

VICTORIA — British Columbia Premier Christy Clark says she's not impressed with federal Liberal plans to overhaul the way in which senators are appointed and would rather focus on creating jobs and building a strong economy.

"Our position has not changed: the Senate should be fixed or folded but we should not be distracted by it," said Clark in a statement Thursday.

christy clark justin trudeau Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomes B.C. Premier Christy Clark to the First Ministers meeting in Ottawa on Nov. 23, 2015. (Photo: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Her terse, four-paragraph statement came shortly after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government announced that five board members, three from the federal level and two ad-hoc members from the provinces, will select Senate candidates based on public criteria.

There are currently 22 Senate vacancies.

Clark said B.C. will not participate in the new process.

"Today's changes do not address what's been wrong with the Senate since the beginning," said Clark's statement. "It has never been designed to represent British Columbians or our interests at the national level."

B.C. has previously said a provincial referendum on Senate reform would be required by law before it could approve any reforms to the upper chamber in Ottawa.

"The Senate is not well constituted."

University of Victoria's law dean Jeremy Webber said he understands Clark's reluctance to enter into a Senate debate.

"The Senate is not well constituted," he said.

Western Canada is under-represented in terms of Senate seats — six Senators are from B.C. — and the power to appoint them rests with the prime minister, said Webber.

He said addressing Senate concerns through a piecemeal process could cause more problems than it seeks to solve.

"The trouble is different provinces have very different views of how it could be reformed," said Webber. "Everybody agrees that as it currently exists it's poorly constituted, but often the proposals for reform point in very different ways."

Christy Clark's full statement:

"B.C. will not participate in the process outlined today to appoint senators.

"Today's changes do not address what's been wrong with the Senate since the beginning. It has never been designed to represent British Columbians or our interests at the national level.

"Our position has not changed: the Senate should be fixed or folded but we should not be distracted by it.

"Our priority remains a strong economy and job creation. We will continue to work with the federal government in the many areas where we can strengthen our province and our country, together."

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