News, Politics

Changes To The Canadian Senate

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Canadian SenateCanada’s new prime minister plans on changing the way Senators are chosen.

The Senate is part of Canada’s government. Before a “bill” becomes a law, the Senate must approve it. Senators often debate and suggest changes to bills.

Senators are given their job by the Prime Minister of Canada. It is a good job to have and it pays well. Sometimes, Senate jobs have been given to people as a reward for having helped the prime minister or his/her political party.

In past years, some Canadian Senators have been criticized for spending money inappropriately. (See past TKN articles, below.) Some people say that is one reason why the Senate needs to change.

Newly elected PM Justin Trudeau said he wants to make sure the Senators come from a range of different cultures and all of the regions of Canada and that both genders (male and female) are well represented in the Senate.

Trudeau is creating a five-person team that will select Senate candidates. Candidates will have to meet certain standards, such as having a “proven record of outstanding ethics and integrity” and having “demonstrated a record of achievement and leadership,” CBC News reported.

The PM will still make the final decision from the recommended list.

Not everyone is pleased with Trudeau’s ideas for changing the Senate. The Premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark, posted a message on Twitter saying that “BC will not participate in the process outlined today to appoint senators.” She said the “changes don’t address our concerns–Senate has never represented BC’s interests…”

And a group that represents taxpayers said the new plan won’t fix the Senate’s problems.

The new plan is going ahead, and in early 2016 five new Senators will be chosen to fill vacancies: two in Ontario, two in Manitoba and one in Quebec. There are 17 other Senate seats that have to be filled by the end of 2016.

Related links

Oct. 2013: http://teachingkidsnews.com/2013/10/23/canadas-senate-scandal-grows-amid-accusations-denials/

Nov. 2013: http://teachingkidsnews.com/2013/11/06/1-three-canadian-senators-suspended-historic-move-senate/

Feb. 2015: http://teachingkidsnews.com/2014/02/05/2-change-senate/

April 2015: http://teachingkidsnews.com/2015/04/12/senator-mike-duffy-on-trial-facing-31-charges/

Parliament of Canada, Senate website: http://sen.parl.gc.ca/portal/senate-work-e.htm

Wikipedia article about the Canadian Senate: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senate_of_Canada

CBC News article about the changes: http://www.cbc.ca/m/touch/canada/montreal/story/1.3348531

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
In this article by the CBC‘s Kathleen Harris about the new Senate process, she writes that “The objective is to appoint new senators based on merit, rather than party affiliation.” What do you think that sentence means?

Reading Prompt: Demonstrating Understanding
This article includes a lot of details about the past senate in Canada and why Justin Trudeau wants to change the structure of the senate. In three sentences summarize and explain the main points in this article.

Junior
Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing supporting details (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Intermediate
Demonstrate understanding of increasingly complex texts by summarizing important ideas and citing a variety of details that support the main idea (OME, Reading: 1.4).

Language Feature: Quotations
Quotations are used several times in this article. Why do you think the journalist chose to use quotations instead of explaining the ideas in her own words? How do quotations change how you read and understand the article?