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Elected senator pressures premier Campbell to hold senate elections

Alberta senator Bert Brown said in a blog posting yesterday that B.C. premier Gordon Campbell should run elections in May to fill B.C.'s three senate vacancies.

The Tyee reported in June on why conservative thinkers like Gordon Gibson and Norman Spector think electing senators would harm B.C.'s interests.

“The timing for British Columbia could hardly be more opportune,” argued Brown, who was himself elected. Albertans voted for Brown before Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed him senator. He wrote, “If the B.C. government provides its provincial voters the chance to vote, they will!”

While British Columbians would no doubt mark their ballots, it might not be good for the province. Despite having 13 percent of Canada's population, B.C. has just six out of 105 senate seats. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia each have 10 Senate seats, despite the fact Nova Scotia has a quarter of B.C.'s population and New Brunswick is even smaller.

An elected senate, Gibson and Spector warned, would gain credibility and might start using the power it has on paper. Until B.C.'s representation better reflects its population, they said, Campbell should resist pressure to hold those elections.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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