Senate reform ideas proposed by NDP

The NDP is calling for immediate changes to the Senate as Parliament gears up to return next week, including a ban on campaign and fundraising work by senators.

Proposed Senate reforms include ban on campaign and fundraising work following expenses scandal

NDP MP Charlie Angus is calling on the government to curtail senators' partisan activities and travel not directly related to Senate business. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The NDP is calling for immediate changes to the Senate as Parliament gears up to return next week, including a ban on campaign and fundraising work by senators.

Officially, the NDP wants to abolish the upper chamber, but in the meantime, the party wants to see greater transparency and accountability, said Toronto MP Craig Scott.

"On the road to Senate abolition, we propose to raise the bar on accountability in the Senate," Scott told reporters at a news conference in Ottawa Tuesday.

The NDP has long protested the fact that senators are able to campaign and do party work, and it once again demanded senators be prohibited from partisan work.

This would mean senators would no longer join party caucuses, do fundraising or organize for a political party, said Charlie Angus, the party's ethics critic.

"As appointed officials, they need to stop using their position to further the political interests of the old mainline parties," he told reporters. "Senators should not participate in party caucuses or do the fundraising organization or the advocacy to pursue the narrow interest of a political party."

"There is no justification for unelected people to be using public money and Senate resources in their role as partisan organizers and fundraisers," he said.

In light of the recent Senate expenses scandal, the party is also calling for all senators' wings to be clipped when it comes to travel not directly related to their legislative work. That means personal or party travel benefits for senators would be done.

And the NDP suggests the Senate's own ethics commissioner be eliminated and that the lower and upper chamber share one code of ethics and one ethics commissioner. 

The NDP has been trying to keep the pressure on the Harper government in light of revelations three former Conservative senators abused their Senate travel and housing expenses. Those senators have so far kept their jobs but left the party's caucus to sit as independents. A fourth, former Liberal senator Mac Harb, repaid more than $230,000 in expenses in August and retired.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is widely expected to announce some sort Senate reform in next week's throne speech.


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