Roger Gibbins against Senate reform? The hell you say!

Even the departing head of a Western Canadian think tank that preached the Senate reform gospel for decades has had a sudden conversion on the road to Damascus.

Roger Gibbins, who steps down later this month as president and CEO of the Canada West Foundation, joins Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and former Stephen Harper campaign strategist Tom Flanagan among influential westerners who’ve come to the conclusion Senate reform—as currently envisioned—is either unnecessary or misguided.

…Gibbins said “another reality is starting to sink in”—a reality he concedes is “preaching against the doctrine” of the Canada West Foundation during his 14 years of leadership.

“If we have a Senate that’s elected and effective to some degree—but the seat distribution doesn’t change—then we’re into a situation where an elected Senate may be detrimental to the interests of the West,” said Gibbins.

The four western provinces are vastly under-represented in the 105-seat chamber, with only six seats each. The four Atlantic provinces, despite much smaller populations than the West, have a combined 30 seats; Ontario and Quebec each have 24.

As long as that distribution remains unchanged, Gibbins said: “To the extent that the Senate becomes a more influential body—and that’s uncertain—but to the extent that it does, it would shift power into Atlantic Canada and away from the West.”

That Gibbins is repeating the very arguments made by former Liberal intergovernmental affairs minister Stephane Dion is nothing short of jaw-dropping. -Bruce Cheadle for CP, yesterday
It’s jaw-dropping, that is, if you haven’t been following Roger Gibbins through twenty years of steady personal opposition to Senate reform, and particularly the “Triple-E” form which would make the Senate elected, equal (amongst the provinces), and effective. It’s a matter of a few minutes’ work to prepare a dossier on this, complete with hilariously antiquated dates:
Calgarian Roger Gibbins told it like it is here the other day at a seminar put on by the Institute for Political Involvement.

It’s time Westerners started asking what they really mean by a reformed Senate, what they are doing to themselves by clinging to it, and what they are going to do if they don’t get it.

Gibbins, chairman and head of the political science department at the University of Calgary, believes we should think instead of reforming the House of Commons.

Senate reform won’t come, he says, because as long as Quebec is in Canada it simply won’t permit its influence in one House of Parliament to be diminished in the name of provincial equality.

And if Quebec leaves, Gibbins went on to tell more than 300 top business people, politicians and academics, Ontario will then have more than 50 per cent of the Canadian people and it won’t consent to Senate reform, either.

He went on to add that his biggest fear for Canada today is not that Quebec will leave, but that Ottawa will grasp at some incompatible accommodation in order to persuade the province to remain in.

As far as Gibbins is concerned we have to begin planning now for the departure of Quebec, and that continued emphasis on changing the Senate merely gets in the way of that process. -William Gold, “Triple-E proposal needs a funeral”, Calgary Herald, Feb. 8, 1991



A Double-E G-G?

In the journalism game, we call it “burying the lede”. Friday’s Postmedia papers have a column by Stephen Maher in which he waxes utopian about “modernizing” Canada’s monarchy by introducing an elected head of state. “Pfaugh,” I hear you say, “I’ve read it all before.” For the most part, you have. After all, most of the heavy lifting in the argument is done by the mere use of the loaded word “modernizing”; who’s against modernity? Maher chats admiringly about other countries (Jamaica and Ireland) for a few hundred words before letting fly with an easily-overlooked bomblet of originality: