Saturday, July 25, 2015

Senate Complications

Folks are arguing that unicameralism (one legislative body) is fine, citing Scandanavian examples:
Which is fine.  These countries are well governed.  However, they are not that similar to Canada in that they have very homogeneous populations and not a bit of federalism.  The Canadian Senate, like the American Senate and probably the Australian Senate, are aimed at producing representation from federal units.  This can be both good and bad.  We can get into the pro's and con's at some point. 

But the point here is simply that Canada, despite being mostly cold and very northern, is not that similar to these countries.  Indeed, combined, their populations are smaller than Canada and any kind of union of them would probably include a federal design that insured that each unit would have representation--a Senate.  So, the simplistic comparison needs more work to show why the institutions that work great for homogeneous societies with unitary parliaments apply to heterogeneous, federal countries. 

Now, if one was arguing proportional representation vs. first past the post, that would be interesting.


Brad said...

Oh, reasoning by analogy.

Unicameralism isn't the reason Hungary is in such dire straits, but it sure helped contribute to the fact.

Andrew said...

The American Senate and the Australian Senate are both elected and both actually very actively participate in drafting and reviewing and passing legislation. The Canadian Senate is appointed and mostly irrelevant - it basically rubber-stamps every bill sent to it from the Commons.

So no need to find examples of other unicsmeral countries and try to extrapolate or guess how unicameralism would work here - Canada is already unicameral in practice. And has been for decades, and that unicameralism has worked just fine right here, it's already been proven.

To formally abolish the Senate would change absolutely nothing in terms of the effectiveness or representativeness of our legislature - but it would save us a whole lot of cash and remove one of the main tools of party cronyism and corruption.