Helen Forsey on the inner workings of our Upper House
A peoples senate for canada – book by Helen Forsey
A Senate made up of the people. In this relevant read on Canadian politics, author Helen Forsey seeks to persuade her audience that having a better version of the upper house is not just a pipe dream.
For those, like me, who are unfamiliar with the structure of Canadian politics at the federal level, there are two houses of parliament, the House of Commons and the Senate, which is also called the red chamber. The Senate is made up of appointed senators who are typically affiliated with a political party, although there are a few independent senators who do not belong to any political party.
These senators serve from the time they are appointed to the time they turn 75 years-old. As Forsey describes in her book, technically, these senators are appointed by the Governor General of Canada. However, since the Governor General must, except in rare circumstances, listen to the prime minister, it is really the prime minister who appoints senators to the upper house.
The current prime minister has made what Forsey calls a mockery of the workings of the Senate. Delving back into Canadian history, Forsey uses anecdotes from past senators, analysis from academia and clippings from countless newspapers to vividly depict what Canada’s Senate has been and could be again.
Forsey makes no apologies for the Fathers of Confederation. She acknowledges that they were men of their time with all of the biases that that implies. However, she maintains the founding fathers had a vision for the Senate that was much different than what is today.
The concluding chapters of the book outline encouraging progress towards what Forsey calls a “People’s’ Senate”, one which is not affiliated with any political party and is appointed by the Canadian people.