Today, Official Opposition Critic for Democratic Institutions Scott Reid (Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston) released the following statement responding to the announcement that the Liberal government will create a five-member advisory panel for new senate appointments: “This new process isn’t democratic, it isn’t transparent, and it isn’t real senate reform. It simply creates an unelected, appointed body to recommend unelected, appointed Senators. Let’s be clear: this is the status quo, with Prime Minister Trudeau making appointments to the Senate. There is only one party that has stood up for real Senate reform and an elected Senate, and that is the Conservative Party of Canada. “This announcement is a step backwards for democracy. The one and only democratic element of our current system is that Senators from Alberta are nominated by means of a province-wide election under the Senatorial Selection Act. Yet the Liberals seem intent on ruling out this possibility in Alberta and elsewhere, returning to appointments as Paul Martin did in 2004 when he ignored the Senatorial Selection Act and appointed three Alberta Senators with no popular mandate. “The process adds another level of secrecy to an already opaque process. The shortlist this panel will generate is secret by design. The public won’t even learn who has been nominated by the panel, other than the candidate selected by the Prime Minister. “The structure of the five-member panel guts the critical regional representation function of the Senate. In most cases, the prime minister and most of the panel members won’t represent the province for which an appointment is being made. Already, the British Columbia government has made clear it will not take part in this process because it does nothing to address that province’s actual concerns. “One of the first five new senators nominated through this will be appointed the new Government Leader in the Senate, a specifically partisan role tied to the government of the day. This simply adds to concerns that the appointment process is rigged from the start to provide the Prime Minister with a crop of nominal ‘independents’ who will reliably support only the government’s agenda. “If the Liberals won’t listen to Canadians – who overwhelmingly prefer different solutions – and won’t take steps to make the Senate more democratic, they must provide greater transparency for this ad hoc process they’ve created. “It’s unfortunate the Liberal Government lacks the commitment to bring real change to the Senate. Today’s announcement is a distraction from what the real focus of the government should be, and that is job creation and a strong economy.”