Inside Politics

NDP to make case for blanket ban on 'partisan activities' by senators

As promised earlier this month, the New Democrats are planning to put their case for a thorough up-ending of the Senate status quo to a vote in the House of Commons by devoting the first opposition day of the new session to discussing the pros and cons of their proposal to bar Upper House denizens from taking part in any "partisan activity" -- up to and including attending weekly caucus meetings on the Hill.

The full text of the motion, which will be debated on Tuesday:

That, in the opinion of this House, urgent steps must be taken to improve accountability in the Senate, and, therefore, this House call for the introduction of immediate measures to end Senators' partisan activities, including participation in Caucus meetings, and to limit Senators' travel allowances to those activities clearly and directly related to parliamentary business.

Now, it's worth noting that the motion is, like virtually all opposition-driven supply day business, non-binding, which means that even if it passes, it wouldn't actually require the government to ensure that the requested measures be put forward. 

(In fact, a case could, but likely won't, be made that it may not even be in order, since it is traditionally not considered proper for the House of Commons to involve itself in the day-to-day operations of the Senate or its denizens.)

Still, from the perspective of the New Democrats, there's no downside to seeing it go down to ignoble defeat, particularly if both the Conservatives and the Liberals vote against it, which would allow them to gleefully decry both their political rivals for running interference for the embattled Other Place.

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