Feds push top court for senate review fast-track

Canada's Minister of State for Democratic Reform Tim Uppal speaks during Question Period



OTTAWA - The Conservative government is asking Canada's top court to put a rush on its legal opinion on the constitutionality of Senate reform.

Federal Justice department lawyers filed a motion for an "expeditious" hearing with the Supreme Court of Canada on Feb. 7.

"The action is consistent with our aim in pursuing the (legal opinion), which is to accelerate the pace of reform and to lay the foundation for further reform," said Kate Davis, spokeswoman for Democratic Reform Minister Tim Uppal, on Friday.

It also asked a Quebec court to put that province's request - filed May 2012 - on the constitutionality of Senate reform on ice while the top court tackles the issue.

Purchase said going directly to the top court would speed the process but "it is up to the Quebec Court of Appeal to decide if they want to continue with their process."

The top court is currently setting out its schedule for the 2013 fall session and no date has yet been set for the hearing.

A spokesman said the court would consider bumping the hearing to the this spring if it felt the government's request was warranted.

In early February, the Conservative government asked for the court's opinion on setting term limits for Senators, the election by provinces of Senate nominees, and Senate abolition.

It wants the court to pay special attention to the constitutionality of Bill C-7, the Senate Reform Act, tabled in June 2011.

It can usually take anywhere from 10 to 24 months for the court to render an opinion.

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