Monday, April 05, 2004

A PR SENATE? HEY, THAT WAS MY IDEA!

I haven't been blogging much because it's early April and final papers and such loom, yadda yadda, you've heard this sob story from me before.

Anyway, I was reading this book on the American Constitution over the weekend (R.A Dahl,How Democratic is the American Constitution?, Yale UP, 2002) for Broadbent's class and in one chapter the author takes up a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of proportional representation. I have been a long-time opponent of proportional representation but recently I have been thinking about it more positively. Dahl finds a lot to like about PR and he's also not a big fan of the way seats are allocated in the U.S. Senate. This got me thinking, not so much about the American situation but about the Canadian. I thought to myself, perhaps proportional representation could work in the Canadian Senate thereby establishing two of the more important three-E's.

I'm still formulating my thoughts on this proposal so I wasn't going to blog it but I woke up this morning (okay this afternoon, but I was up late writing) to find that two of my fellow bloggers have had the exact same idea over the weekend. Footprints of a Gigantic Hound got the ball rolling on Saturday and The Middleman followed up this morning.

There are lots of possible variations on this plan and a few possible constitutional and practical snags. One of my primary concerns would be to insure that the Commons remains the principal of the two houses. Maintaining the tradition of money bills originating in the Commons would help to preserve this. However, it would be fairly logical to assume that whichever party is governing in the Commons they would have fewer seats and more parties to deal with in a PR Senate. As such the Senate would likely become the chamber of greater negotiation and compromise which may then shift the ballance of power towards the upper house.

As I said, I'm still thinking it over and I don't have that much time to do so right now. I hope that this debate continues though because I think its an interesting possibility.

Posted by Matthew @ 4:33 PM