It is in the selection of members of the Senate where we will find the most radical reformulation of our electoral system. The numbers and boundaries of the Senate ridings will be different than those for the Parliament. In determining the boundaries of each of the Senate ridings, consideration will be given to urban and rural populations, eco-geographical features, as well as historic and social groupings.
There will be quotas for male, female, and indigenous members. The process for selection will be patterned on the successful approach created to choose members of the Citizens Assembly which was established to examine electoral reform in British Columbia in 2003 and 2004.
Briefly, the Senate selection process is as follows:
From the voters list in each Senate riding, the names of 100 males and 100 females will be randomly chosen to receive an invitation to attend an informational meeting. Those who agree to serve as a member of the Senate for a period of six years, will place their names in a female hat or a male hat , respectively. Out of each of these hats, one name will be picked to be the member of the Senate for that riding. Ultimately, there will be two females and two males sitting in the Senate to represent each riding. The selection process will be staggered so that it occurs every three years to replace one male and one female. Thus, for the following three years, two members will have had experience serving in the Senate, and two new members will bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm.
A similar process of selection will be applied to ensure that indigenous populations of both genders are appropriately represented.
The purpose of this Senate will be to apply “sober second thoughts” to the legislation created by the parliament. The Senate may return the legislation with suggestions to the parliament for reconsideration. Ultimately the Parliament can impose acceptance of the legislation on the Senate.
Notice that the members the Senate are not retired politicians, are not chosen by our political leaders at the time, and are not being rewarded for past services. The pools of 100 persons from which a member of the Senate is chosen consist of ordinary Canadians from all walks of life, with different skill levels and experiences, and these senators are only beholden to their fellow citizens.
What values does this provision support?
What problems, if any, does this proposition address in our current electoral system?
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