Brian Lee CrowleyMacdonald-Laurier Institute Managing Director says real reform of the troubled institution is achievable

OTTAWA, June 9, 2015 – The release of Tuesday’s Auditor General’s report – which is expected to detail more misspending by Canadian Senators – should inspire Canadians to push for reform of the Upper Chamber, says Macdonald-Laurier Institute Managing Director Brian Lee Crowley.

Crowley is available on Tuesday, June 9 for media interviews to discuss MLI’s plan for achieving lasting change in the Canadian Senate.

"Canadians are surely feeling dismayed by the seemingly never-ending revelations about Senators' scandalous expenses”, says Crowley. “But real reform of the institution is possible, if we have the collective will".

Proposals for reform have, in the past, suffered from one of two fatal flaws: They would result in change that is actually worse than the status quo, or they involve a plan for implementation that would never pass the high bar for approval Canada’s Constitution requires.

Crowley’s plan, detailed in the November 2013 Macdonald-Laurier Institute paper titled “Beyond Patronage and Scandal”, would restore the Senate to its proper role in the legislative process yet still maintain a realistic chance for implementation.

Among the most important reforms, he says, is making sure Senators are elected and subject to term limits. Leaving open the length for which elected Senators can serve would give the Senate power with no real responsibility – a situation even worse than we have now.

Crowley also has a blueprint for winning the necessary approvals.

He recommends the government adopt a plan for serious Senate reform and then put it to the electorate in the form of a referendum. This would challenge provincial leaders who balk at any sort of change to openly defy the will of the people. It would also be important that the set of reform recommendations be accepted or rejected without a round of Constitutional bargaining that few Canadians would welcome.

Other proposals – such as getting rid of the Senate entirely – are unrealistic because they would require unanimous support from the provinces.


Brian Lee Crowley is the Managing Director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. MLI is the only non-partisan, independent national public policy think tank in Ottawa focusing on the full range of issues that fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Join us in 2015 as we celebrate our 5th anniversary.

To arrange an interview with Brian Lee Crowley, please contact Mark Brownlee, communications manager, at 613-482-8327 x105 or email at

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