Is the Senate a place for ‘sober second thought’ or what, in 1985, then-reporter Mike Duffy called “a task-less thanks” for political party helpers? Senator Mike Duffy is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and bribery. Investigations continue into other senators’ expense claims.
Some senators, it seems, take advantage of an already very comfortable job. How to effectively restructure the red chamber has long been discussed, to no avail. Here’s my idea.
Why not appoint senators by lottery? Not with tickets to buy, but open to all citizens of voting age. Similar to jury duty, anyone can be called. But instead of mailing out foreboding looking letters, jazz it up a bit. Make it a happier version of the US draft lottery in the Vietnam War. If your number is called, report to the Red Chamber. Your social insurance number, that is.
Let Lottery Canada run it since it has the wherewithal in place for national draws. Televise it, with disco balls, lots of neon and the ball hopper of bingo halls. If aired on CBC, it would do wonders for the state broadcaster’s ratings. They will need a future whenever Dragons’ Den finally (please God) slinks off to wherever old dragons go. Although it probably couldn’t be replayed as often as DD is, maybe George Strombolopolous could host retrospective specials. We don’t see enough of Strombo anymore!
How would a lottery senate work? Term of office would be two years maximum and those chosen would be required to move to Ottawa for their term of office. As is the case now, accommodation would be covered as a Senate expense. They would receive the same annual salary as present Senators do, but it would cease after their term ended. They would not be eligible for pensions or continued benefits as present Senators are after a mere six years of service.
You might end up with a Senate full of Trailer Parks Boys. Odds are there would also be great senators who everyone would wish could continue forever. They could not, but neither could the waste-of-space fools.
Probably some good legislation would get passed each term. Probably palms would be greased and nests feathered as well. But everyone would have an equal shot at both those outcomes instead of a select few chosen by a political party leader.
With the present system, the chosen few hog the trough for a long time. The up side is that senators with integrity are also there for a long time. I don’t think a Senate comprised of randomly selected hoi polloi could be any more hit and miss. And the advantage is, no matter how much you or I or the idiot down the street messes up, we would be gone quickly and painlessly – and cheaply.