When our Conservative government was elected in 2006, one of the pillars of our party’s platform was Senate reform. Once elected, we attempted to start that process. We brought forward a bill that would limit the terms for senators to eight years. As we were a minority government, the Liberals and NDP voted this bill down, not once, but seven times.
When Canadians gave our party a majority mandate in 2011, we began the Senate reform process again, but this time, we not only wanted to set term limits, we also wanted to look at an elected Senate, and possibly, abolishing the Senate. These actions, however, may have violated the Constitution of Canada, so the questions of Senate reform were referred to the Supreme Court of Canada for legal and constitutional advice.
In the time that it has taken to do this, seven years now, the prime minister has had to replace senators that retired. Appointments were made to ensure our legislative Senate reform agenda could go forward through the Senate and the appointed Conservative senators were clearly advised that we were going to reform the terms of their jobs.
Currently, there has been much ado regarding Senate expenses, as has been in the past. I recall Reform MPs, years ago, dressing up in Mexican costumes and dancing outside the Senate chambers in a protest against a Liberal senator, who lived in Mexico and who returned to Canada for the mandatory five days a month, to ensure his pay cheque would continue to flow into his account. Look, Senate reform has been an issue since 1926. Our government is going to make the changes for Canadians ASAP.
The current issue of inappropriate expenses, claimed by a few members of the Senate, will be addressed by the independent commissioner of the House of Commons’ Conflict of Interest and Ethics and by the Senate’s ethics officer. These two bodies are independent and report to Parliament.
Our government is the government that put in place the Federal Accountability Act. This Act allows the auditor general (AG) to follow all taxpayer money and ensure accountability and transparency. Never before could an AG audit Crown corporations, First Nations’ bands, MPs and senators. It is good that we have uncovered the abuse; it means the new oversight is working.
Finally, it you want to see your MP’s expenses, you can go to my website at www.colinmayes.ca, where my expenses are posted. I had a 25 per cent surplus and, once again, our office had the lowest budget of all B.C. MPs.
– Colin Mayes