Newfoundland and Labrador Senator George Furey wants people to know the Senate is a necessary part of the system, even if it does need to be reformed.
© — Submitted photo
As his colleagues in Ottawa were debating whether to suspend senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin without pay, Furey was in
St. John’s to give a speech about the role of the Senate.
Speaking briefly to reporters, Furey said he believes term limits may be a good reform, but they can’t interfere with the essence of what the Senate does.
“I think they should be long enough that the senators that are appointed do not lose their independence,” he said.
Furey said he believes that in the current system, the Senate is the only meaningful check on the prime minister, because MPs are just “told when to vote and how to vote” and don’t challenge the central authority.
“If you see what’s happening over the last number of years, there’s been a horrific concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s Office,” he said.
All of this comes against the backdrop of Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau under police investigation for improper expense claims for housing and travel that they didn’t incur.
Friday’s VOCM question of the day had three options — suspend them with pay, suspend them without pay or abolish the senate altogether. Not suspending them at all wasn’t even an option, but that’s what Furey favours.
“What’s actually happening is the Conservative senators have introduced a motion to throw the three senators out without really due process,” he said. “They’ve already been referred to the RCMP for investigation, and our view on the Liberal side is that if you’re going to step up now, we should hold a special committee of the Senate and hold full-blown hearings and give those people ample opportunity to have due process and answer the charges.”
He said it’s a shame the actions of a few senators are driving so many people to call for the institution to be abolished.