ed stelmach declares no need for elections, extends senate terms by decree.

December 3, 2004: “It is a worthwhile cause,” says Ed Stelmach, Alberta’s intergovernmental affairs minister. “We are going to continue to push for Senate reform and one way is to hold these elections.”

April 29, 2010: Premier Stelmach announced that Alberta will not hold a new round of Senate nominee elections, and will instead extend the terms for the province’s three senators-in-waiting through a cabinet decree.

While legislation exists governing Senate elections in Alberta, there is a regulation that allows the provincial cabinet to extend the terms of Senators-in-Waiting until cabinet ministers decide to hold another election (which could be indefinite), defeating the purpose of holding Senate elections in the first place.

UPDATEAlberta’s Senators-in-Waiting have some harsh words for Premier Stelmach and the Calgary Herald says he “could use a refresher course on democracy.

14 replies on “ed stelmach declares no need for elections, extends senate terms by decree.”

I overheard 2 Conservtive MLA’s talking in a restaurant this week that it was time for Stelmach to resign. They said something about a motion from a Vice President for his resignation at the PC convention this week?

I overheard 2 Conservtive MLA’s talking in a restaurant this week that it was time for Stelmach to resign. I didnt know their names. One of them had a beard. They said something about a motion from a Vice President for his resignation at the PC convention this week?

Why are we spending any time talking about elected senators? Last time I checked Canada didn’t have an elected senate. Just because you want something to be true doesn’t make it so. Much work has to go into reforming the senate. Electing senators is about step one thousand. Electing senators opens a whole stinky, kettle of fish not many have the stomach for.
Most Canadians don’t vote now, what makes anyone think they will vote for senators?

Karen, Alberta’s previous elections for Senators-in-waiting were strong symbolic gestures. Those elections told Ottawa that, at least as far as Albertans were concerned, we were ready for all the other changes that are required in order for a modern elected Senate to be put in place.

Stelmach is doing all Albertans a horrible disservice by postponing further elections indefinitely. In doing so, he shows a real disregard for the Reform party’s accomplishments in the 90s. It’s no wonder federal CPC members are disserting Stelmach’s party in droves. This latest bit of stupidity on the part of the premier will likely push even more folks out from his PC tent and over to the Wildrose Alliance or various other provincial parties.

What business would a provincial party like the PC’s or Wildrose Alliance have running candidates in a federal senate election anyway? What a joke.

Neal, Alberta’s previous senate election was a sham and I for one am getting tired of folks holding it up as the pinnacle of democracy. Who “appointed” those four individuals to be on the ballot? Don’t you find it a bit curious that only people with ties to the reform movement were on the ballot?
One of the good things about current senate appointments is that we get a range of people from different backgrounds who would not usually run for public office. Our current senators are artists, journalist, athletes, etc.
Mr. Stelmach should let the nominations expire and we should engage in a debate about real senate reform.
An elected senate under the current structure is a joke indeed.

Karen, the process for getting on the ballot was completely open and transparent. In I believe the first election, one of my NAIT instructors, a fellow named Guy DeRosiers (sp?) ran as an independent. The option to run and be on the ballot is open to all.

Given that, how can you say it was a sham? I personally rejected my senate ballot last time around, but only because there were no candidates I felt I could support, not because the election was somehow rigged or unfair.

The so-called left parties decided against running candidates, so there were no Liberals or NDP on the ballot. You’d have to ask their braintrusts why they thought that was a good idea.

As far as praising the merits of an appointed senate, I’d rather have a say in which idiots lead us than to praise my benevolent dictators, no matter how smart, diverse, etc they may appear.

I agree with Joe Albertan that it would be odd for provincial parties to start running candidates for federal office. I would suggest that for us as voters, it would be wise to find skilled independents to send to the Senate. It might help to break down the partisan logjam that is Ottawa.

It was a sham and I, like many others, went and voted in the election but refused the ballot for the senator vote.

People like Link Byfiield do not represent me in any meaningful way.

I also rejected my senate ballot. But I was grateful for the opportunity to have this choice. I hate it when a politician appoints my representative like some Politburo appointee who then makes claims to make decisions that are in my interest. I also hate the sense of entitlement that these appointed hacks assume for themselves with me then being powerless to do anything about it.

An elected Senate means we can remove jerks.

Do any of the above posters know who the Alberta Senators are? They are as follows:

Banks, Tommy Liberal Party of Canada
Brown, Bert Conservative Party of Canada
Fairbairn, Joyce Liberal Party of Canada
McCoy, Elaine Progressive Conservative Party
Mitchell, Grant Liberal Party of Canada
Tardif, Claudette Liberal Party of Canada

Now, if memory serves, Elaine McCoy was an Alberta PC MLA, and Minister; Grant Mitchell was an Alberta ALP MLA and leader of the Party; I can’t recall whether Joyce Fairbairn was an Alberta MP, or MLA, or unsuccessful Liberal candidate; same for Claudette Tardiff (Metis by the way); and Tommy Banks – well, we all know who Tommy Banks is.

Bert Brown was the only “elected” Senator, and he was appointed by Steven Harper. Joyce Fairbairn was appointed by Pierre Trudeau, Tommy Banks was appointed by Jean Chretien, and the rest were appointed by Paul Martin.

The only two whose names appear in the press with any frequency are Tommy Banks and Grant Mitchell – and not in a negative way (i.e.: attended fewest sessions, etc.). Tommy Banks in particular has clearly been an extremely hard-working Senator, who takes his role and responsibilities as seriously as they require, and has been doing an outstanding job doing what a Senator is supposed to do (“sober second thought” without having to pander to the electorate and all that).

What has Bert Brown been doing?

My point is that, as with Judges, appointed Senators who can function based on what they believe is best for Canada, without having to worry about election or re-election, so long as they are competent and motivated to do that, serve us better than do elected Senators.

There are 105 Senators – Alberta has 6. It seems to me that for those 6 to have any effect whatsoever, they have to have been people that have had a well recognized commitment to making Canada a better place in which to live before their appointment.

I suppose it’s possible that were an election of Senators-in-waiting in Alberta, that (at least some of) the candidates might meet that criterion. But based on what I’ve seen so far (concerning Alberta’s elected Senators), I have my doubts.

The currency of this whole debate comes about by the way, because the Harper introduced a Bill to Parliament this past week that would recognize provincial Senatorial elections – to the extent that the Harper would consider the appointment of any such so elected (as long as they were CPC, or Reform, or Wildrose, or equivalents thereof?)

Do you seriously think the Harper would appoint a Senator elected in Quebec with Bloc affiliations? Or a Liberal elected in Ontario? Or an NDP elected in BC?


I can’t speak for the Liberals, but the reason the NDP do not support or participate in elections to the Senate is that abolition of the Senate is a long-standing NDP policy.

As for the effects elected Senators may have, I fear that if it really takes hold across the country, it has the potential to become a classic case of “be careful what you wish for”. A Senate with electoral legitimacy but which remains structured as it is now, could create serious mischief with our political system. Government legislation, matters of confidence in the House, could be defeated in the Senate with no recourse for the voters.

Tell me, if you’re disenchanted with the role of the PMO and the party apparatti in federal politics, why in the world would you want to bring in elections for the Senate? Don’t you think Senators are currently more free to ignore the party line than they would if they had to depend on the party to get elected? Oh, and I’m not singling out one party or the others

Do we NEED more trained seals in Ottawa?

I am not surprised by the latest blow out. I could care less about the senators
remarks. The F bomb is the least of Canada’s worries or the tax payers that fund
her paycheck. Mark my words this is only the tip of the ones that fly around the
world and speak for you in Canada, Without being elected by you. If you have
ever heard of “pork barrel politics” this is Canada’s version of that. Shadow
politics that go on without your approval. It is not a Conservative, Liberal or
even New Democrats problem it is the corrupt system that it lives in.

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