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Ottawa Continues to Ignore Albertans' Voices

The unwillingness to recognize Alberta's legitimate Senators is apparent despite several facts. First, the precedent of the Prime Minister has already been set, by Mulroney appointing Stan Waters (a short term payoff to Getty for the potential long term harm of Getty agreeing with Meech Lake).

Alberta has 6 Senators. Four of those Senate positions were vacant. Not only has the Prime MInister failed to appoint Albertans' choice for Senators, but he had refused to appoint anyone. Had that kept up, Alberta wouldn't have had any Senate representation. Even, worse Martin appointed Senators who didn't represent Alberta in the least. What's worse than having no representation? False representation - which is an accurate description of traitors who were represent a political party that Albertans did not elect to one seat in the past election.

The power to appoint Senators officially rests not with the Prime Minister, but with the Governor General. Why won't the Governor General recognize Albertan voters' choices? Let me guess that her appointment from the Prime Minister deserves some quid pro quo that requires that she restrain the exercise of any principles she might have had.

The excuse that there are no qualified candidates would be a false one. The 4 politicians who received the most votes when compared to any politicians in Canada would be Alberta's 4 elected Senators. Albertans have chosen their Senators. Why couldn't the appearance of showing the slightest concern have been made by Ottawa? 

Nobody has anyone followed Alberta's lead in Canada. While Albertans are unhappy with the status quo, it appears Canadians aren't. Albertans have elected Senators in 2004, 1998 and 1993. Only one was appointed after being elected, and that appointment was made as a blackmail payment to Getty for his foolish support of Meech Lake. It is quite apparent that Canada does not support legitimate regional representation - or even the appearance of it.
Alberta's Senate Election: 2004

Betty Unger
PC Party
Bert Brown
PC Party
Cliff Breitkreuz
PC Party
Link Byfield
308,014 307,444 238,406 236,382

Albertans elected four Senators in 2004: Betty Unger, Bert Brown, Cliff Breitkreuz and Link Byfield. None has been appointed to the Senate since then, even though 4 vacancies existed in the Senate. Instead, the Government of Canada gave patronage appointments, which indicates no respect for the Alberta electorate.
Alberta's Senate Election: 1998

The elections in 2004 were not the only time that the Canadian government has ignored the wishes of Albertans about who should be representing Albertans. In 1998, Albertans elected two Senators to represent them. Our wishes about who should represent us were ignored.

Bert Brown Ted Morton
330,000 274,000
Alberta's Senate Election: 1989

Stan Waters became Alberta's first elected Senator, and the elected representative to receive the most votes in Alberta's history. He was appointed to the Senate by then PM Mulroney in a quid pro quo trade off with Don Getty for his shortsighted support of Meech Lake. The election and subsequent appointment of Waters to the Senate did make it obvious that some form of Senate reform could be made without reforming the Constitution.
Senate Reform Possible

Paul Martin argued that he supported Senate reform but didn't want to make piecemeal changes to the Constitution. Quite frankly, he is not being truthful. He had no problem making piecemeal changes to the Consitution during the past election. For example, he argued that the Notwithstanding Clause be eliminated from the Constitution - even though that would require following the amending formula. One could argue that this was yet another election promise that would not come to fruition, but that wasn't the only example of Martin having little problem making piecemeal changes to the Constitution. For example, he had no problems appointing Senators, even though the power to do that resides with the Governor General. He had no problems exercising federal power where none has been granted - most notably in the area of natural resources and health care. He had no problems breaking up the Northwest Territories into the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The excuse of not wanting to pursue Senate reform because piecemeal Constitutional change was not desired was nothing more but a poor excuse.

Link Byfield has mentioned that Senate reform can practically be achieved without having to adhere to the rather strict amending formula in the Canadian Constitution.

Senate reform could have and can be made. There is no willingness in Canada for this. There is in Alberta. 
Senate Representation is Unfair to Alberta

Senate representation is unfair to Alberta in several respects. First, as previously noted, half Alberta's Senate seats were vacant. Obviously, if Senate seats are vacant, they are powerless to stop any legislation. Leaving Alberta without any Senate representation is simply irresponsible.

Second, Alberta only has 6 Senate seats, and 3 Senators. PEI has 4 Senators. The other Maritime Provinces have 10 Senators. BC, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland & Labrador have six Senators. Ontario and Quebec each have 24 Senators. Each territory has 1 Senator. In theory, only PEI has fewer Senators than Alberta. In practice, no province has fewer Senators. Alberta's representation is unfair. The Senate does not provide regional protection - as is the usual purpose within federal systems.

Third, the manner in which Senators are appointed is a sad joke. In the recent federal election, 100% of Albertan ridings were won by Conservative candidates. Yet, 100% of "Albertan Senators" are Liberals appointed by Liberal Prime Ministers. Obviously, those appointees don't represent Alberta at all.
Criticizing the EEE Senate

An EEE Senate denotes a Senate that is equal, elected and effective. What's not to like?


First, by effective, most people refer to the ability of the Senate to block legislation passed by the House of Commons. This is a beneficial attribute of bicameral legislatures. The Senate can be a check on the power of the House of Commons, and as Albertans, we can certainly appreciate this check. While the Senate may be effective in this traditional sense, I will argue that it will be unable to be effective in another sense: it will not protect Alberta from federal legislation.


An elected Senate is usually based on the default point of view is that all democracy is good. However, the concept of a Senate in the first place is anti-democratic. As discussed above, it is a check on unfettered democracy (as are things like a Bill of Rights, or the Constitution - which are held dear, with good reason). Don't confuse this with supporting the current status quo. The Governor General arbitrarily holding the power to appoint Senators in theory is terrible. So is the way this power has evolved to the Prime Minister, and to the Prime Minister alone, in practice. Electing Senators would certainly be an improvement on what we currently have. However, an elected Senate is not ideal.

The reason it is not ideal is because a Senate has an important role to play in any federal system, in protecting the interests or a region, province or state. Senators were originally appointed by the states in the United States, until Amendment XVII was ratified in 1913. Prior to Amendment XVII, Senators were appointed by the state legislature. This ensured that the states' rights were protected by Senators, because they answered to the state legislatures. When Senators were directly elected, the states no longer decided what needed federal attention. Instead, the federal government does. It's a subtle difference, but appointing Senators provides a check against centralized federal power that electing Senators doesn't.


Equality has several meanings. According to Senator Bert Brown, each province should have an equal number of Senators. Senator Ted Morton advocates that each region in Canada should have an equal number of Senators, which those regions being BC, the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. One could argue that Canada's Senate was essentially equal before Newfoundland & Labrador was admitted to Canada. The composition of Canada's Senate is 24 Senators come from the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario and the Western Provinces. When Newfoundland & Labrador was admitted in 1949, they received 6 Senators. Had Newfoundland & Labrador simply been considered a Maritime province, Canada would have had an Equal Senate. The regions are different than the more realistic geographic regions that Dr. Morton suggests, but the outlines of equality among regions is apparent.


Will an EEE Senate be effective in protecting Alberta from harmful legislation? It is doubtful that it will be successful, for the following reasons:
1. An effective Senate is unlikely to ever be achieved. In the Charlottetown Accord, we saw a Senate go from being very powerful in original drafts to being nearly impotent in the final draft. The status quo is simply unlikely to give up their power.
2. An elected Senate, while being preferable to a Governor General or Prime Minister appointed Senate, still has problems. Most notably is the problem previously discussed that elected Senators are less inclined to support provincial rights than provincially appointed Senators would be. The effect of this would be bias in favor of federal power - as the Senate is today because Senators are currently appointed by a federal official, the Prime Minister.
3. Equality still leaves Alberta powerless to protect herself. There are two "have" provinces, Alberta and Ontario. Alberta will be alone in protecting herself against things like transfer payments. Every province save Ontario benefits financially from Alberta's wealth. While Ontario has political power for its lesser donations, Alberta gets nothing in return but vitriol. How is having 10% of the Senators (actually less than that, taking into account the  territories) going to stop this? Similarly, would there be enough Albertan Senators to protect us from Kyoto or another National Energy Progr
stributive programs? Whether equality means an equality between provinces or between regions, Alberta just wouldn't have the numbers to offer protection from Canadian legislation.
4. Federal legislation can be designed to avoid being overturned by an EEE Senate. Suppose that the unlikely case of equality between the East and West is achieved in the Upper Chamber, and that we have an effective and elected Senate. A brief consideration of Alberta's history notes that legislation can be altered to simply make it attractive to everyone but Alberta. The NEP found supporters in Blakeney, Saskatchewan's premier. Manitoba's support of the Kyoto Accord was purchased by the promise of Alberta's carbon emissions being redistributed to Manitoba, whose hydroelectricity was given preferential treatment.

A Triple E Senate will not protect Albertans from Ottawa. It is not the panacea that some project. I don't see a solution to this problem if Alberta stays in Confederation. The only way for Alberta to protect herself from the Canadian government is to become independent from the Canadian government.
Senate Reform Possible
One Step At A Time