Preston Manning launches new Senate reform initiative

·Politics Reporter

Every once in a while, former Reform Party leader Preston Manning resurfaces on the national scene with something interesting to say.

On Wednesday morning, at the National Press Gallery in Ottawa, he didn't disappoint.

Manning — joined by former Alberta cabinet minster Ted Morton — launched his conservative think-tank's new website, reformorabolish.ca, as a means to engage the public and to inspire the Harper government on this hot button issue.

The Manning Centre is asking Canadians to visit the website and to vote for two of six options to reform or abolish the Senate

The options — aptly named after what one might do to a run down old house — include:

- tear it down

- major reno

- minor reno

- status quo

- deferred demolition

- housekeeping

The website is really well-done.

It's the culmination of an October 2013 blue ribbon symposium — organized by the Manning Centre — which included senators, academics, activists and politicians each putting forward their ideas about the future of the much-maligned red chamber.

Not only do visitors to the site get to vote on their favourite remedy for the Senate's woes, they're provided with the 'for' and 'against' arguments, for each option, as presented at the symposium.

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For his part, Manning — who has been a long-time advocate for a Triple E Senate — told reporters that he would vote for 'minor renovations' akin to the measures in the current government's Bill C-7 which would incline provinces to hold senatorial elections and impose a nine-year term limit for senators.

"Nobody is more frustrated than myself at the length of time it has taken to get any progress on the issue at all," Manning said at the press conference, according to Sun News.

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Coincidentally, or not, the New Democrats released some research, on Wednesday, about what actually takes place in the red chamber.

They published this release on their website:

"In the first session of this Parliament there were 801 votes in the House of Commons. You can find out the results of these votes by visiting here, where you can even download the results as data.

We went through all Senate Journals since the election to create our own list of votes, since the Senate doesn’t have a list publicly available.

How many votes have there been in the Senate? Only 70.

What’s more, six of the 70 votes had to do with decisions for how many hours the Senate would sit, and 12 dealt with the ongoing Senate scandal.

Sober second thought? Not so much. The Senate is more than happy to let most government legislation through without even bothering to vote."

If anyone still votes for the status quo after reading that, then heaven help us all.

The results of the Manning Centre survey will be announced in late February.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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