NDP determined to abolish Senate, Mulcair says

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair begins a cross-country tour to spread his party's message that the Senate is full of unelected party hacks who have no business writing Canada's laws and should be abolished.

Mulcair launches 'roll up the red carpet' tour in wake of expenses scandal

Mulcair Senate speech

Power & Politics

8 years ago
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair launches Senate abolition campaign with a speech on Parliament Hill Monday. 17:00

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair today began a cross-country tour to spread his party's message that the Senate is full of unelected party hacks who have no business writing Canada's laws and should be abolished.

Mulcair launched his "roll up the red carpet" campaign by delivering a speech on Parliament Hill, ahead of travelling to Halifax later Monday.

"Today we're here to mark the beginning of the end of a discredited, outdated and undemocratic institution," Mulcair said during the speech.

The NDP has long called for the Senate to be scrapped, and Mulcair said Canadians are now catching on to that idea and it's time to abolish it "once and for all."

"Unelected party hacks have no place writing or rewriting the laws of this country. It's as simple as that," he said.

Mulcair said he will consult with Canadians and work with the provinces and territories to get the upper chamber abolished.

'Drunk with entitlement and power'

"We're determined to get this done and we will get this done," he said.

Mulcair said the Liberals, when they were in power, and now the Conservatives have fostered a culture of entitlement when it comes to their Senate appointments, and the NDP is the only party that can fix Ottawa.

"It's hard to be a place of sober second thought when you are drunk with entitlement and power," he said about the Senate.

Speaking to reporters after his speech, Mulcair said the recent spending scandals involving senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, Mac Harb and Pamela Wallin have prompted Canadians to reflect on the Senate.

"Canadians deserve better," he said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has referred questions about Senate reform to the Supreme Court of Canada. It has asked whether Parliament can enact fixed terms for senators, for either eight, nine or 10 years, or the life of two or three Parliaments of four years each.

Another question put to the court by the government is whether the Constitution can be amended by Parliament to ensure that the provinces are consulted about Senate appointments.

Additionally, the top court has been asked about the constitutionality of abolishing the Senate, specifically, whether abolition would require the support of seven provinces with 50 per cent of Canada's population, or unanimous support from all 10 provinces.The government argues that unanimous consent isn't needed.

"Canadians understand that our Senate, as it stands today, must either change or, like the old upper houses of our provinces, vanish," Pierre Poilievre, the minister of state for democratic reform, said Monday in a statement to CBC News following Mulcair's speech.

Mulcair was also asked about the situation in Syria when he took questions from the media, and he said that if Canada is considering intervention, Parliament has to be reconvened.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper plans to ask Gov. Gen. David Johnston to prorogue Parliament, which would mean MPs would not return to Ottawa on Sept.16 as scheduled.