07/24/2015 10:09 EDT | Updated 07/24/2016 05:59 EDT

Harper Announces Moratorium On Senate Appointments

REGINA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced a moratorium on Senate appointments.

Harper says it is clear that Canadians are not happy with an unelected, unaccountable upper house and his government will not do anything to entrench the status quo.

Harper has not made any appointments to the 105-seat Senate in the last 2 1/2 years and there are 22 vacancies

"The government is not going to take any actions going forward that would do anything to further entrench that unelected, unaccountable Senate,'' he said Friday at a news conference in Regina.

"It will be our policy to formalize that. We will have a moratorium on further Senate appointments.''

He said leaving seats open will save money and that not making appointments since 2013 has already brought Senate expenses down by $6 million.

He also hopes the moratorium will push the provinces to come to an agreement about what to do with the controversial institution.

"It will force the provinces ... to either come up with a plan of comprehensive reform or to conclude that the only way to deal with the status quo is abolition.''

However, the Supreme Court has already made it clear that allowing vacancies to pile up can't go on indefinitely since it would amount to abolition by stealth.

The Senate has been engulfed in scandal for almost three years over improperly claimed expenses. It has also been embarrassed by allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct by several senators.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, who favours abolition, said he fully supports the prime minister's move.

"It will be up to premiers ... to respond to this now.''

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