In recent years, questions have been raised about the Senate (Parliament’s Upper House) in the wake of scandal and controversy over the expenses that certain Senators were claiming.
While the maintenance or abolition of the Senate remains a question of debate, it is clear the Senate has a crucial role to play in dealing with a current piece of legislation which has triggered a response from Canadians from coast to coast: Bill C-51.
As recently as this past Saturday, protesters in numerous cities voiced their opposition. At the date of writing, some senators either opposed or supported the legislation, and others were still expected to make a decision.
As I discussed in a previous column, individuals with expertise in the field of law, including lawyers, justices and scholars, have raised valid points of criticism with the proposed legislation. It has already passed in the House of Commons, despite the strong opposition from the public. Senator Grant Mitchell introduced amendments to the bill, but these were unsuccessful in the Senate’s National Security and Defence committee.
The Senate has options available to address issues with the bill, including the ability to introduce amendments or defeat the proposed legislation. It has used such options in the past. In 1998, the Senate defeated a bill which it thought would infringe on freedom of expression. In previous legislation that has crossed its table, the Senate has also introduced modifications. It must consider the great significance of the decision it makes, and instill in Canadians confidence the bill is being scrutinized in the greatest detail.
Although, the Senate’s National Security and Defence committee made some recommendations for Bill C-51, these do not go far enough in addressing the wide range of concerns that have been brought to light over the past few months.
As public protests and online petitions are showing, Canadians have many issues with the bill.
Canadians should also consider Bill C-51 a part of their decision-making process when determining who to vote for as their MP in the upcoming federal election.
World Environment Day
Today (June 5) is World Environment Day – a day to realize the importance of using resources in a responsible manner.
Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, notes: “Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference.”
Making changes to our usage of electricity, transportation, water, food and other aspects of our lives can help create a more sustainable vision.
Japreet Lehal is a student at Simon Fraser University. He writes regularly for The Leader.