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Statement: Senate Appointment Consultations Bill

Honourable senators, yesterday was a very sad day for democracy in this country. Yesterday, Prime Minister Harper introduced in the other place Bill C-43, to provide for consultation with electors on their preferences for appointment to the Senate. That bill was tabled in the other place and not in the Senate, where we already have Bill S-4 to study, so that either House of Parliament could study the cumulative effect of both bills.

This legislation does not oblige the Prime Minister to appoint any of the elected candidates to the Senate. Furthermore, in Quebec's case, this legislation violates the Constitution by replacing the 24 electoral colleges with elections on a provincial level. The proposed legislation flies in the face of our Constitution, our democracy and our minorities.

This proposed legislation does not deliver on the promise of a Triple-E Senate. This proposed legislation is nothing but a Triple-S Senate — Senate Seat Sale.

Let me take my province of New Brunswick as an example to illustrate my comments. Bill C-43 proposes province-wide elections. In New Brunswick, only 33 per cent of the population is francophone and only 5 per cent of the population is First Nation. What are the odds, given these percentages, that a francophone or a First Nation person would be elected in province-wide elections in New Brunswick?

We have spoken many times in the Senate about minority representation but, unfortunately, it has fallen on deaf ears — the my-way-or-the-highway approach.

Again, this is a Triple-S Senate — Senate Seat Sale. For instance, there are 10 federal ridings in New Brunswick, and I estimate that a minimum of $50,000 will be required in each riding to run a decent federal campaign. This means that a person interested in running for a Senate seat in New Brunswick would require at least $500,000 to campaign. This proposed legislation is nothing but pie-in-the-sky. It is a mockery of our Constitution, of democracy and of minorities and, dear colleagues, it is a before-Christmas Senate Seat Sale.