Saskatchewan repeals elected Senate law, tables motion calling for abolition

REGINA – Saskatchewan has repealed legislation that would have allowed for the election of Senate nominees.

The law was passed in 2009 and allowed for elections to choose names that could be put forward to the prime minister for Senate consideration — although no election was ever held.

Premier Brad Wall has also tabled a motion in the legislature calling for the abolition of the Senate.

Wall told the legislature that the Senate has “failed the test of being effective.”

The premier has said he believes that most people in Saskatchewan agree that the Senate no longer serves any useful purpose and is not worth the $100 million in taxpayer money spent on it each year.

Wall had been a proponent of Senate reform, but said this spring that he no longer believes meaningful reform is possible.

“Long before the current scandals which have further marginalized the Senate as a useful institution, many were questioning the relevance of an appointed group of men and women, unelected and unaccountable, potentially standing in the way of an elected House of Commons,” Wall said in a news release Wednesday.

“As it has become clear that reform is not possible, abolition has become the preference of Saskatchewan people.”

Wall says the motion is not a proposed constitutional amendment, but simply a statement of Saskatchewan’s official position on the Senate.

The motion is expected to pass as it is the position of the governing Saskatchewan Party and the Opposition NDP.

Saskatchewan New Democrats, who have long pushed for an end to the upper chamber, say they will unanimously vote in favour of abolishing the Senate and will also vote to repeal the Senate Election Act.

“Saskatchewan families have good Saskatchewan common sense — they are not amused by the high cost of supporting senators’ lifestyles, and they’re outraged by the scandals of the Senate,” NDP Leader Cam Broten said before the vote.

Broten also said the vote should be a starting point for the government, which should now work to persuade other premiers and Ottawa to follow suit.

Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair took to Twitter to applaud the move by the Saskatchewan government.

Mulcair tweeted: “Thank you @PremierBradWall for your efforts to abolish the #SenCa. Let’s continue working together to make it happen.”

Nova Scotia and Manitoba have also said the Senate should be abolished.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.