07/15/2013 01:52 EDT | Updated 09/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Look Who's Calling the Kettle Black

I recently read that the Premier of Saskatchewan, Mr. Brad Wall, is supporting the call for the abolishment of the Senate in light of the expense scandals. He claims that a "reform to create a Senate that is elected, effective and never going to happen" (Saskatchewan Party News, July 8, 2013).

Therefore, it must be abolished. He says that the Senate "hasn't the credibility that it should have" (The StarPhoenix, July 9, 2013). I have to admit that I find these statements quite ironic coming from Premier Wall.

Need I remind the Premier of the biggest political scandal in Saskatchewan's history when prominent members of former Premier Grant Devine's government were charged in relation to a scheme that defrauded taxpayers of more than $837,000. Or the more recent scandal when a videotape surfaced showing the Premier himself, along with former Deputy Premier in the Devine government during the infamous scandal, and former Senator, Eric Berntson, and current Conservative Member of Parliament Tom Lukiwski, mocking former Premier of Saskatchewan Roy Romanow in a Ukrainian accent.

If Premier Wall feels the necessary action is to abolish the Senate given the recent scandal amongst only a few Senators -- the majority of which have been appointed on the advice of Premier Wall's friend Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- perhaps the Premier should follow suit and take the same course of action with his own legislative assembly.

I feel I must also educate Premier Wall on the Senate's function in Parliament as he seems to have a misunderstanding when he states that the original intent of the Senate is for "regional and provincial representation" (Saskatchewan Party News, July 8, 2013).

The Senate has historically played four roles, all of which are complimentary to the functions of the House of Commons. They are: a revising legislative role, an investigative role, a regional representative role, and a protector of linguistic and other minorities role.

A recent example of the Senate's role in action would be the study of Bill C-377, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Requirements for Labour Organizations). As Deputy Chair of the Committee where this Bill was referred, I can confidently say that the Senate dedicated much time and effort to this study.

Whereas the Standing Committee on Finance in the House of Commons devoted only three sessions to Bill C-377 hearing from only a few witnesses, the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce heard from forty-four witnesses over the course of seven sessions. This unconstitutional and iniquitous Bill would have breezed through the Conservative dominated House of Commons, however the Senate lived up to its role and provided a sober, second thought to Bill C-377.

Controversial Canadian Senators