Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Majority backs Senate reform, poll finds Add to ...

A new poll suggests Canadians would much rather reform the unelected Senate than abolish it or keep it as it is.

The Harris-Decima survey conducted for The Canadian Press indicates 59 per cent of respondents believed senators should be elected.

By contrast, only 27 per cent thought the Senate should be abolished and a mere 10 per cent wanted the prime minister to continue appointing senators.

The telephone survey of just over 1,000 Canadians was conducted Jan. 28 to 31, just as Prime Minister Stephen Harper was appointing five more partisans to the Senate - finally giving the Conservatives the numerical upper hand in the red chamber.

A survey this size is considered accurate within 3.1 percentage points 19 times in 20.

Mr. Harper has indicated that he will use his party's new-found Senate dominance to revive legislation that would impose term limits on senators and create a process to elect them.

His past attempts at reform have foundered, with scant opposition party support and strong objections from four provinces, including Ontario and Quebec.

The Harper government maintains its reforms need only parliamentary approval, but the four provinces disagree.

They contend changes to the upper house can only be achieved through a formal constitutional amendment approved by at least seven provinces.

Quebec has threatened to make that argument in court if Harper tries to proceed without provincial consent.

The poll did not ask respondents whether they'd be willing to re-open the constitutional can of worms to get an elected Senate.

It indicates majority support for electing senators in every region of the country, except Quebec, peaking in British Columbia and Manitoba-Saskatchewan at 66 per cent and among young people at 70 per cent.

Doug Anderson, senior vice-president of Harris-Decima, said the fact that respondents under the age of 35 were particularly keen on electing senators suggests "pressure to reform may increase over the long term."

Support for abolition was highest in Quebec, where 43 per cent favoured doing away with the Senate entirely versus 46 per cent who favoured electing senators and eight per cent who were content with the status quo.

Follow us on Twitter: @GlobePolitics

 

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories