Letter from Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

In response to our open letter sent to the Prime Minister, three leaders and MPs in February 2014, we received a letter dated March 18, 2014 from the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons' office. 

Dear [Ms.] Wo:

Thank you for your correspondence to the Prime Minister about Canada’s parliamentary and electoral system, which was forwarded to me for reply.  Our Government values your thoughts as we move forward with our commitments to representative of Canada and Canadians in the 21st century.

Electoral reform has received much attention in recent years.  Canadians in three provinces voted on changes to their electoral system, and they voted to keep the current system.  In 2007, our Government completed a series of cross-country consultations in order to consult Canadians on issues of democratic reform, including our electoral system.  It was concluded that fundamental changes to our electoral system are not currently favoured by most Canadians.  Canadian families want their government to focus on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.

Our Government renewed its commitment to Senate reform in the Speech from the Throne, which stated: “The Government continues to believe the status quo in the Senate of Canada is unacceptable.  The Senate must be reformed or, as with its provincial counterparts, vanish.”  Our Government is pursuing a practical, step-by-step approach to reform in areas within the federal government’s jurisdiction.

That is why our Government has introduced legislation over the years which would provide for term limits for Senators appointed after October 2008 and a voluntary framework for provinces and territories to implement democratic processes to enable votes to select Senate nominees.

The Government is confident that the changes proposed in the Senate Reform Act can be approved by Parliament alone.  However, disagreements over the appropriate constitutional amending procedures for changes to the Senate have thus far prevented the passage of our various Senate reform proposals.  That is why our Government has sought a legal instruction manual from the Supreme Court of Canada on how reforms to the Senate can be made or how the Senate can be abolished.

I have copied my reply to the Honourable Pierre Poilievre, Minister of State (Democratic Reform), so that he may be aware of our correspondence.

Once again, thank you for your interest in this important matter.  I suggest that you visit www.democraticreform.gc.ca for further information on our Government’s democratic reform initiatives.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Van Loan

c.c.:  The Honourable Pierre Poilievre, P.C., M.P.
Minister of State (Democratic Reform)