Nova Scotia

Peter MacKay says 'virtually zero' chance of abolishing Senate

The attorney general of Canada killed rumours of the Canadian Senate's imminent demise on Friday.

Anyone who says they can get rid of it 'is not being honest with Canadians,' Nova Scotia MP says

Justice Minister Peter MacKay said Senate abolition was 'virtually prohibited' by the Supreme Court of Canada. (Canadian Press)

The attorney general of Canada killed rumours of the Canadian Senate's imminent demise on Friday. 

"Anybody suggesting we can simply abolish it outright is not being honest with Canadians," Peter MacKay said in Halifax.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall Friday afternoon, which in part sparked rumours of a major announcement about the Senate. Wall wants the Senate abolished

But MacKay, the MP for Central Nova, said that last year's Supreme Court of Canada decision on Senate reform or abolition ruled that out.

The court said that reforming the Upper Chamber would require a constitutional amendment approved by at least seven provinces with 50 per cent of the population (the so-called 7/50 amending formula.)

The top court set the bar even higher for abolition. Getting rid of the Senate altogether, the court advised, would require unanimous provincial consent.

"Contrary to what some, including Mr Mulcair, have mentioned, the abolition of the Senate has been virtually prohibited by the Supreme Court of Canada," MacKay said.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said he plans to find a way to abolish the Senate

"What the court has told us is that in order to take that step — which would be a drastic step, to completely remove that institution — would require the compliance of the provinces and territories in order to meet the constitutionality of that measure," MacKay said. 

MacKay said his 18 years in politics and previous career as a lawyer told him the likelihood of that happening is "virtually zero."

That leaves reform, he said, but he offered no details of any such plan.


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