British Columbia’s premier says the idea of lending her province’s support to a new process for selecting senators is “just wrong.”
In an interview with The West Block’s Tom Clark, Christy Clark explained why, just hours after the federal government announced plans to create an independent advisory board to provide non-partisan advice to the prime minister on Senate appointments, she announced that B.C. would not participate in any such endeavour.
“The Senate is completely unrepresentative of the provinces,” Clark explained. “B.C. has six seats and we will never get to change that. Then, add to the fact that the Senate (relies on) patronage appointments, still unelected. There is no accountability… I just couldn’t see how British Columbia could feel comfortable validating that in any way.”
Any changes to the Senate that effectively abolish it, introduce democratically elected senators or require the prime minister to give up his prerogative to select the people he deems worthy to sit as senators would require a Constitutional amendment supported by a majority – if not all – of the provinces and territories.
The Liberals have said they are unwilling to reopen the Constitution.
READ MORE: Want to be appointed to the Senate? 5 things you need to know
It’s unclear how B.C.’s decision not to participate in the new appointments process will affect Ottawa’s plans, if at all. Any time a new senator needs to be appointed, the committee will include three federal members and two ad-hoc members from the province where there is an opening. But the provincial representatives can be selected without the consent of the provincial government.
Clark said she sees no drawback in refusing to provide any input as others decide which British Columbians make it to the Upper Chamber.
“We would be validating what are unaccountable, unelected patronage appointments,” she said. “I mean my view is we should either fix it properly or we should fold it … The idea that (the Senate) can somehow make legitimate decisions on behalf of the country, it’s just, I think it’s wrong.”
Clark was also asked on Sunday about the legalization of marijuana, something the Liberal government promised to do during the federal election campaign.
On that point, Clark struck a far more cooperative tone.
“We’re happy to work with whatever the federal government decides on that,” she said. “You know (the federal Liberals) were really clear … about their position on this, and so we’re prepared to move forward on it and I know lots of ideas about how we might regulate it.”