Cannan: PM looks to supreme court for direction on senate reform

In my view, talking directly to constituents, the grassroots, is still the best way to gauge what matters to the communities we represent.

Many of you have been asking for my viewpoint on matters regarding the Senate.

As a taxpayer, I share your concerns and frustrations as to recent events involving Senate issues.

It is the duty of all elected and appointed officials to conduct ourselves with the utmost integrity and Canadians have a right to expect MPs and senators to respect the rules and guidelines set out for them.

I remain vigilant in this respect, as do the majority of parliamentarians.

For those elected and appointed officials who believe they are above the rules, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been clear on this, saying last week: “Anyone, who wants to use public office for their own benefit, should make other plans.”

As for the decisions made by the Prime Minister’s now former chief of staff Nigel Wright, the matter has been referred to the Ethics Commissioner.

Senate reform remains important to Canadians.

That is why our government put senate reform on the national agenda and colleagues from the Senate have agreed to support our efforts to achieve fundamental reform.

In an effort to move senate reform forward, the government has asked the Supreme Court of Canada to comment on whether the reforms we have proposed can be accomplished through Parliament alone.

Those reforms include term limits for senators, democratic selection of senate nominees, and net worth and property qualifications for senators.

The government has also asked the court to rule on options for abolishing the Senate completely.

While we await the response to those questions from the Supreme Court, the government has also committed to taking further steps in the area of senate expenditure and accountability, to accelerate changes to the Senate’s rules on expenses, and close any loopholes in those existing rules.

Meantime, the government will continue to remain focused on the economy and passing the budget bill before the House of Commons rises for the summer.

Canada remains the best economy in the G7, and as Economic Action Plan 2013 showed, we are well on our way to balancing the federal budget by 2015.

Back here at home, a positive working relationship between the mayors and their councils from Kelowna and Lake Country, our three MLAs and myself has resulted in significant funding for various projects and programs that are benefiting our communities.

I look forward to continuing to work with our three MLAs—Norm Letnick, Steve Thomson and Ben Stewart—who successfully retained their seats in the recent provincial election.

The provincial election results, which flew in the face of the pundits’ predictions, are a good reminder that what you read and hear from “the experts” is not always accurate.

In my view, talking directly to constituents, the grassroots, is still the best way to gauge what matters to the communities we represent.

To all the constituents who take the time to share their views and concerns with me, I thank you.

And I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Though we may not always agree, we are certainly better for having had a conversation with each other.