Mamadosewin (meeting place, walking together)

Inquiry on the role of the Senate in the protection of regional and minority representation

Inquiry on the role of the Senate in the protection of regional and minority representation

Inquiry on the role of the Senate in the protection of regional and minority representation

on. Terry M. Mercer (Acting Leader of the Senate Liberals): 

I’m not going to speak long, Your Honour, because I do want to give a fuller speech later.

I am going to adjourn the debate in a moment but I wanted to remind my colleagues, particularly those people who are new here and have been appointed to this place by Justin Trudeau, that the method he has used of selecting you to the Senate is public and he has made it known. I have spoken to a number of you and you’ve talked about your application. There is a big flaw. There is a flaw in the selection of the 10 senators from Nova Scotia.

(2150)

I want to talk about Nova Scotia, because that’s who I represent. There are now 10 senators from Nova Scotia — all good people, other than myself. The 10 people from Nova Scotia are all good people. There’s one thing missing. I think it’s the first time in the history of Confederation that there has not been an Acadian from Nova Scotia among the 10 members of this chamber. That is an inequity that the current Prime Minister, if he is going to continue to follow this method, needs to consider. I am sure there are other inequities across the country, but I’m only going to speak about Nova Scotia.

Indeed, I would suspect that if there were a court challenge on this — for example, in Nova Scotia, they reduced the number of seats in the provincial legislature from 52 to 51. In so doing, they eliminated a seat that was in a traditional francophone area, and they also blended a seat representing an area that Senator Bernard lives in, a predominantly African-Nova Scotian community. Traditionally there has always been a seat there. Actually, there have always been three ridings with a heavy francophone population, but usually only one or two got elected. It didn’t matter if they were Liberals, Conservatives or New Democrats. It was a New Democrat government, by the way, that reduced the numbers and did not put in the rules the redrawing of boundaries to protect the francophone and African-Nova Scotian minorities.

By the way, interestingly enough, the person who runs there doesn’t have to be an African-Nova Scotian. As a matter of fact, in my memory, only one African-Nova Scotian has actually represented that riding. But that’s neither here nor there. The seat is there.

These are the inequities of the selection process. There are traditions. There is history. There are people who feel unrepresented in this chamber because of the inequities in the system. Guess what, folks? Politics would fix that. That’s what tradition has done in the past; it has ensured that minorities in all communities across this country have been represented in this chamber.