Majority in B.C. would back election for province’s next Senate nominee: poll

The Senate chamber on Parliament Hill is seen May 28, 2013 in Ottawa.
The Senate chamber on Parliament Hill is seen May 28, 2013 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Nearly two-thirds of B.C. residents would like to help “elect” the province’s next senator, according to a new poll.

The survey from Research Co. found that 64 per cent of British Columbians would support a non-binding election, similar to the type previously used in Alberta, to choose a senatorial nominee.

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The selection of senators remains the prerogative of the governor general on the advice of the prime minister. However, for more than three decades, Alberta held elections to choose nominees for appointment to the Senate. Half of those nominees were eventually appointed.

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The poll comes about seven months before B.C. sees a Senate vacancy with Conservative Sen. Richard Neufeld reaching the mandatory age of retirement in mid-November.

Asked more directly about how senators should be chosen, 36 per cent of respondents said they would like to see the Senate reformed to allow direct election of its members.

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About half of that number, 17 per cent, said they would rather see the Senate abolished, while 14 per cent said a selection committee should be formed to appoint non-partisan senators.

Just eight per cent backed having the sitting prime minister directly select senators.

The poll also found large gaps in knowledge among British Columbians about the Canadian Senate.

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Just 11 per cent knew that B.C. has six seats in the 105-member body, while only 13 per cent were able to identify at least one sitting senator from B.C.

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The poll was conducted online from March 29 to 31 among 800 adult British Columbians. It is considered accurate within 3.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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