Majority of Canadians want Senate abolished: Poll

Canada's Governor General David Johnston delivers the Speech from the Throne in the Senate chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa June 3, 2011.

Credits: REUTERS


OTTAWA -- A vast majority of Canadians say the Senate should be abolished or reformed, highlighting the waning relevance of the Red Chamber, a pollster suggests.

A recent Ipsos Reid poll found 36% of Canadians believe the Senate should be done away with, a 10-percentage point increase from 2007. On the whole, 78% would like to see it either reformed or abolished, but Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Reid Public Affairs, says it is the idea of abolishing it that is gaining the most traction.

"I was surprised by the fact that reform is on the decline but that abolition is on the rise," Bricker said. "And if you think about it, it makes sense."

Bricker said the idea of reforming the Senate was a 90's phenomenon led by Western Canada, which felt un- or under-represented in the House of Commons and wanted more opportunities to feel their regions had representation.

"Now, those people are in power," Bricker said. "The Western population has increased, they have more seats in the House so the idea they need more representation has gone away."

Bricker said that although recent bad behaviour by Senators played a significant role in our growing distrust of the Senate, he also acknowledged that a few months of good behaviour was unlikely to sway public opinion.

"These numbers are not fickle; they hit on this very fundamental anachronism in Canadian politics," he said.

"Unless the Senate begins to show some value, the numbers are likely to remain where they are."

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