Reform the senate, but don’t make the provinces pay: Dunderdale

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By James McLeod: The Telegram

Premier Kathy Dunderdale.


Premier Kathy Dunderdale wants a reformed senate — but she doesn’t want half measures, and she won’t pay for it.

Dunderdale refused to do an interview on Senate reform, but provided an emailed statement.

“(Newfoundland and Labrador) is interested in seeing what might be proposed, but we are not interested in reform that would see a reduction in representation of the province, nor would we support any costs associated with an elected Senate being downloaded on provinces,” Dunderdale said.

The province has seen more than its share of Senate controversy in recent years,

Tory MP Fabian Manning was targeted by then-premier Danny Williams during the 2008 federal election, as part of Williams’ “Anything But Conservative” campaign.

Almost immediately after Manning was defeated, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed him to the Senate, sparking outrage in the province.

Manning resigned from his Senate seat in the lead-up to the 2011 election and ran for Parliament in his old riding of Avalon.

He lost again, and was re-appointed soon after.

More recently, when Harper appointed former Tory MP Norm Doyle to the red chamber, Dunderdale was asked about her vision for a reformed Senate.

At the time, she made it clear she wants to see reform, but only if it maintains the same level of representation for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Moreover, Dunderdale won’t pay for elections for senators.

“I’m not interested in the provincial government picking up costs for federal representation,” Dunderdale said in January. 

“This law is in the purview of the federal government, and trying to download those costs on the provincial government is not something I’m particularly interested in.”

Dunderdale said she wants to see changes to the Senate, but only if it’s substantial constitutional reform that gives senators a real mandate.

“If we’re going to have a Senate, then it certainly behooves us to have an effective Senate,” she said. “An effective Senate, in my view, that does something differently than the House of Commons.”


Organizations: House of Commons

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Avalon

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