It matters little that the real life of a senator is very different. No one cares to remember that the Canadian Senate is the reason women today exercise freedom of choice when it comes to reproduction. Few understand the Senate plays a vital role in overseeing the workings of government. Whether it is security at Canadian ports or a thoughtful analysis of the issues surrounding the right to die, the Senate often goes where Commoners fear to tread.
Precisely because the Senate is not elected, it can afford to exercise long-term vision and provide a counterbalance (albeit limited) to the untrammeled authority of the House of Commons. For all those reasons, Senate supporters should be speaking up in support of the current work of the Red Chamber.
By that estimation the Senate acts a check on the power of the house of commons. There's one problem with that view: that's not what the Senate is or has ever been in recent memory.
When was the last time a Liberal senate blocked a law from a Liberal government? When was the last time a Tory Senate did the same? There aren't many for sure. The senate has merely acted as a rubber stamp for the House in by far the majority of cases.
When Mulroney came to power the way he dealt with a Liberal senate was by appointing more Tory senators until there was a Tory majority in the senate that would nicely pass all his bills.
The way Jean Chretien dealt with this Tory majority in the senate created by Mulroney was by appointing more Liberal ones to make it a Liberal majority once again.
And this is the system that Madame Copps claims provides a "counterbalance to the untrammeled authority of the House of Commons"?
In reality the Senate just provides a smokescreen of legitimacy for those in power to claim that someone is keeping a check on them. It just so happens that the people keeping a an eye on the "powers that be" is appointed by and dependent on the "powers that be" in the first place. That's a befuddling if I ever knew one.
And another thing...
I would ask Sheila if she would be so in love with the Senate had done the opposite on the abortion issue oh so many years ago... Somehow I think not.