What Sir John A. Macdonald said was that its function was to protect minorities, and as the rich were always in the minority its function was to protect the rich. It has done that pretty well.
I appreciate that the Prime Minister has a problem. His predecessor had a problem, but I think for his predecessor the problem was easier than it is for the present Prime
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Proposed Senate Reform Minister. I do not like to speak disrespectfully of one who has departed, but I think the former prime minister was more of a cynic than the present one. He felt he had reformed the Senate sufficiently when he had a majority of Liberals there. He never made any further attempt to reform it after that. As a matter of fact, I believe he gave up asking questions of those who were being appointed when he was getting to the position where, in the natural order of things, he could have a majority in the Senate without making any promises or accepting any.
I do not care for many of the proposals that have been made here regarding the Senate. If we are going to have a Senate in a democratic country I believe that Senate should be elected. As I said before I am not afraid to discuss any problem, and I think I can discuss any subject objectively. There is a feeling that we discuss problems and take action on problems because we are elected members, which we would not do if we did not have to seek election. Surely if there is anyone in that position in this house he should not be here. A person who cannot face the electorate and tell them, "I favour this because I think it is for the benefit of Canada", or "I do not favour that because I do not think it is for the benefit of Canada", has no right to be here. I am not going to advocate something because some few people think we ought to have it and I cannot find it in my heart to say no.
The hon. member for Moose Jaw-Lake Centre had a proposal for reforming the Senate by appointing a labour man to it. Well, the Senate will not be reformed by appointing one labour man to it: that is not what I would call labour representation in the Senate. In order to give labour the representation it ought to have in the Senate it should have members in the Senate approximately equal to labour's voting strength in the country. Labour will not be represented by the appointment of one old man who has retired from other fields of endeavour in the labour movement. We want young men in the Senate if the Senate is going to be useful.
I see the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration (Mr. Pickersgill) shakes his head. Perhaps he does not want young men in the Senate. Perhaps the government does not want young men in the Senate. But the people of this country want young men in the Senate if they want a Senate that is going to be of any use.
We fill the other place with old gentlemen who have retired or are about to retire from whatever useful work they were doing. As a matter of fact they were retired from the world. Then we expect these old gentlemen to
give a 1955 or 1956 expression of opinion on the problems that affect Canada. What utter nonsense! They cannot think in terms of 1955 or 1956; they think in terms of the years of their activity. That is not the kind of Senate I want.
Then again, I do not think it would be desirable to have the provinces appoint certain members to the other place. I believe it would make for all kinds of trouble. We come here to this parliament to represent Canada, not Quebec, British Columbia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and so on. I said we would get into all kinds of trouble. We will vote for this amendment. Because the Senate is a problem child so far as Canada is concerned I suppose something has to be done with it. At the moment it is fairly harmless, and it is a good divorce court.
I think it would be desirable to discuss what we should do with the Senate, or what place it ought to hold in the government of Canada. For that reason we believe, as has already been stated by the hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, this amendment is in order and it would bring about that result. It is a question worthy of discussion, but let us think of it objectively. Sometime we may have to abolish it, but I think one of the great difficulties in the way of abolishing the Canadian Senate is that it cannot be abolished without its own consent.
I am not a constitutional expert or anything like that, but I find now that we have to go to the imperial parliament for certain amendments to the British North America Act. There are certain amendments with which we have power to deal ourselves, but I doubt very much if this chamber, on its own resolution, could get the imperial parliament to abolish the Senate. I think we would very likely have to have the consent of both houses of parliament.
After what has been said, I thought I had better say these few words in regard to the other place, whether or not you agree with them.
Topic: SENATE REFORM