In my Canadian Politics course, for most of today my teacher detailed all the ways in which the Canadian Senate is horribly broken. I must have face-palmed like 5 times.
This is straight from my notes:
Original Vision for the Canadian Senate:
1. Provide Regional Representation to offset power of large populations in Ontario and Quebec (which makes up 60% of MP’s in the House of Commons).
2. “Sober Second Thought”. Respected individuals review proposed laws to improve, or power to stop implementation of bad laws.
-A minority of Senators take work seriously (about 20-30 out of 105). They review legislation, do research on important issues to aid government.
The good news is that only about 30% of Senators actually do their job as senators. Let that sink in.
-Senators are usually chosen as a reward for past loyalty to governing political party or P.M. (and therefore don’t defend regional interests).
-There are ‘no conflict of interest’ guidelines. None. Many senators hold paid positions on corporates boards and are lobbied heavily by banks and corporations. Because to pass a bill the senate has to agree, if you tried to legislate actual ethical rules for the senate, the senate would likely kill the bill. This goes with just about any kind of senate reform you can imagine.
And the Ugly:
-Job pays $132,300 per year (base salary) and the position is for life (or at least until old age). Senators are also appointed by the PM (not elected). Senators have no legal obligation to do any work in the senate (again the lack of rules).
-Not until early 1990′s did the senate even take attendance, and senators don’t get in trouble unless they miss several months (this is mostly done to check if senators have died or not). This came about as a result of a senator who vacationed in Mexico during the sitting hours of the senate and came back to Canada in the summer (after the Senate closed).