April 05, 2015

Let's abolish the Senate

Ah, yes. The Canadian Senate. A chamber of second thought, sober or otherwise. Not elected by citizens, not representative of regions nor citizens, and certainly not effective in any manner. It's difficult to know just what the role of a body such as this might be in a democratic federation such as ours.

Senator Nancy Ruth, noted feminist and philanthropist, dropped her last name several years ago as a statement against the patriarchy. All good things indeed. She will now be remembered as the cold fancy-cheese Senator. Nancy Ruth complained about being served cold Camembert and broken crackers while flying first-class. She has to fly first class and have a better breakfast. At our expense of course.

Nancy Ruth is from the Jackman family, three generations of whom have controlled one of Canada's largest financial companies, Empire Life. She sold off her shares in the company in 1980, at the age of 38, because, as she told then reporter Stephen Brunt, "I was tired of working for a living, to be blunt about it." She devoted herself to genuinely good causes and was rewarded in 2005 by the conservative Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin with an appointment to the Senate. That's about three months of actual work every year, with some party fund raising events to be added of course, and a whack of expenses to be paid by taxpayers. All at a starting pay rate of  $138,000.

Her case is minor compared to some of our senators. A number seem to be severely challenged when it comes to claiming expenses. Legal. Illegal. It' all rather confusing to most of them.

For all of us, the cold camebert story sums up what is wrong with our Senate. Unelected, unaccountable and out-of-touch senators cost our country almost $100 million every year.

It's time to get rid of the lot of them. Unless, of course, someone wants to appoint me.                                                      Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray

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