I would be glad to comply with the suggestion, Mr. Speaker, except I think the bill has no principle, and neither have its sponsors when they ask this Parliament to take this step to reform an institution which is beyond reform.
The only principle which might by some stretch of the imagination be contained in it is the one that parliamentarians become useless upon attaining the age of 75, useless that is so far as their activities as parliamentarians are concerned. And while it is true the proposal before us relates only to the Senate, none the less if this is the implication behind it, then I submit the same provision should be introduced in this House. So far as the House of Commons is concerned we should make a determination that all Members in Parliament, whether in the Senate or over here, are not eligible to sit as parliamentarians once they attain the age of 75.
One of the other unprincipled parts of the bill is that it will provide for a donation, or a gift, or a grant, or a present to everyone who is now in the Senate, in an amount of $8,000 per year, without their having contributed one single solitary penny toward that gift, in other words a free pension for which an individual did nothing, in other words a sort of a bribe to the Senators to
Retirement Age for Senators give passage to this bill. Speaking for myself and the Members in this party I say we are not in favour of such an unprincipled thing, and if that is called a principle of the bill I want to express opposition to it as well.
Liberal and Conservative speakers have said that they are in favour of retention of the Senate, of retaining it as a haven for political friends, of retaining it as a sanctuary for those who have lived out their usefulness in any other way in political life, of retaining it as a place to deposit fund raisers and the like so that they can be paid a salary out of the public treasury while collecting funds for either one of the two old line parties.
In their reason for the support of the Senate as an institution, as opposed to those of us who seek to abolish it, they are, as I said earlier, in effect expressing their greediness, trying to use public funds for what I consider to be a nefarious scheme. It may well be true, human nature being what it is, that the closer an individual gets either to being appointed to the Senate or to the position where he can make appointments to it, the greater will be the change in his attitude about the Senate.
It may well be true that an individual Member of one of the other parties in the House, if he were the Prime Minister, might have a different attitude about the Senate. It may well be true that an individual would succumb to the greedy instinct in him and say, "Oh, I have changed my mind about the Senate. It is a worthy institution because I might be appointed to it." It may well be true that individuals, through human nature, would have this changed attitude as they got older in years and closer to the possibility of appointment to the Senate.
This is what the Liberal and Tory parties are saying; but all we in the N.D.P. are asking you to do is to be altruistic about this, if you can. We are asking you to put aside the enticing offer of a seat in the Senate, of an early retirement at $15,000 a year. We are asking the Members in the Liberal and Tory Parties to forget the past, to forget the disgraceful way in which appointments to the Senate have been made.
We ask you to look to Canada, to work for it, to look sincerely at the idea of abolishing the Senate, give away the thoughts of greed you have, and think altruistically and decently about Canada and the Senate for a change. That is all we are asking those two old line parties to do in this instance.
May 14, 1965
Retirement Aye for Senators [DOT] (4:30 p.m.)
It may well be we are asking far too much. It may well be it is utterly impossible for the Liberals and the Tories to think in any other way than in terms of political expediency or of manners in which they can use public funds to pay off their friends. If they cannot get away from that thought process they will obviously think in terms of defeating the motion for a six months hoist which I now propose to move seconded by my hon. friend from New Westminster (Mr. Mather). In order that it may be on the record, I will read it. It is:
That this bill be not now read the second time but that it be read the second time this day six months hence.
Subtopic: ESTABLISHMENT OF RETIREMENT AGE FOR SENATORS