Canadians compare reforms of upper houses in federal countries

From left: Forum President George Anderson and Mel Cappe, President of the IRPP, listen as Michel Bastarache, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, addresses the workshop.

A workshop examining options for Senate reform in Canada was held recently by the Forum of Federations and the Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP). The workshop brought together parliamentarians and other experts to examine how the selection in Canada of future Senators could be improved either through direct elections or an enhanced nomination process.

André Blais and Bruce Hicks of the Université de Montréal discussed their study reviewing proposals currently under consideration by the Parliament of Canada. Campbell Sharman of the University of British Colombia presented a paper outlining ways to enhance the political legitimacy and functioning of the Canadian Senate short of having direct elections.

John Uhr of the Australian National University, delivered a presentation which drew on his paper examining the evolving role of the Senate in Australia’s Parliament, as well as a specific analysis of how the Australian Senate participates in the government’s cabinet.

The workshop was moderated by the Michel Bastarache, former Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and commentators included Charles-Emmanuel Côté (Université Laval), Andrew Heard (Simon Fraser University), Louis Massicotte (Université Laval), Peter McCormick (University of Lethbridge), Meg Russell (University College London) David Smith (University of Regina). Senators from the Conservative Party of Canada and the Liberal Party of Canada attended the workshop, held in Ottawa on November 18, 2008.

For more information on Canadian Senate reform, please see There Needs To Be a Public Debate over Senate Reform at

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