POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY JOHN IBBITSON IN TORONTO'S GLOBE AND MAIL
Just what is that meaningless phrase?
Harper has always appealed to the worst instincts in Western Canada with this pseudo-issue, effectively telling them that if they don't like the results of government by a democracy in which they are a minority, he will offer something to temper it.
He's not really concerned with democracy per se, or we'd see serious ballot reform, so that we didn't get 39.6% "majority" governments, an insult to the spirit and ideas of democracy.
But he is concerned with jerry-rigging the Senate so that we have an even less democratic system.
The United States Senate - the most anti-democratic, special-interest oriented, and money-driven part of the American government - is his mental model.
No modern person in his right mind would copy the American Senate.
It is a disastrous institution, unelected yet powerful most of its history (until 1913) and, now, elected only in a very marginal sense of the word and more powerful than ever.
An American Senator, on average, spends two-thirds of his or her time scrambling for money.
They are elected for six-year terms, but only one-third of them are up for election at any one time - a provision which saves them from public disapproval in the heat of any election.
They also work with a 60%-rule so that a super-majority is needed at any time to bring a vote.
Each state has two of them so that a Senator from California represents 17 million people and a Senator from New Hampshire or Alaska represents about 300,000.
Yet each Senator has the same immense power to overrule democratic measures implicit in the body's definition.
They override Presidential appointments of every description, treaties with other countries negotiated by the elected President, legislation passed by the House of Representatives. They enjoy a great many other powers and can literally paralyze the American government.
It is a patrician, anti-democratic, and right-wing institution in almost every aspect.
Indeed, there is a long history of seats virtually being passed on to heirs, much like the rich ministries of American televangelists.
Our Senate is not elected, but it has very little power and serves largely as a sinecure for party politicians.
It should either be abolished or left alone.
But anything along the lines of the American Senate would be an abomination.
Electing two houses in a representative fashion is a huge additional expense that is entirely a waste and an invitation to the growth of special interest campaign fund growth.
Electing a second house in a non-representative fashion is just that, non-representative and would assure a decease in effective democracy in Canada.