The latest Canadian senatorial scandal started as a seemingly trivial dispute about expenses. The amount of money in question is not even a vast amount, but it has exploded into a major issue for the prime minister and the rest of Canada’s government. Last week the <a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/25/world/americas/dispute-over-canadian-senators-expenses-balloons-into-larger-political-scandal.html?_r=0″>Senate</a> debated extensively about suspending three senators without pay and a fourth senator has resigned.
This is not the first small senate-related scandal as of late. People are beginning to wonder if the Senate should exist at all. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has expressed the need for senatorial reform or abolishing the Senate altogether. Senators, of course, are opposed to abolishing the Senate because it would leave them jobless. Overhauling the Senate though will be difficult.
The Canadian Senate was established to provide a Parliamentary voice for each of the provinces, but the senators have traditionally deferred to the democratically elected House of Commons. Senators today tend to be retired politicians or other distinguished Canadians and senate seats have been used as rewards.
Harper, a Conservative, rose to power after speaking up against corruption in the Liberal Party. The three senators involved in the expense debate are all Conservatives appointed by Harper. Harper claims he knew nothing about the issues until they recently came to light.