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MP Tim Uppal speaks before Ladner Rotary
Edmonton-Sherwood Park MP and Minister of State for Democratic Reform, Tim Uppal, spoke to the Ladner Rotary Club Tuesday (Aug. 14) about the importance of democratic reform.
"A free and democratic society is based on the principle that the citizen must be heard," he said, citing key changes the Conservative government made to election campaign limits, reducing the influence of unions and business.
Uppal also called for reform to the Senate that would see free elections for Senators, with imposed term limits of nine years. He said it is not acceptable in a modern democracy to sit in office for longer, regardless of whether they were elected or not.
The government likely won't seek to abolish the Senate, since constitutional experts agree it would require the consent of seven provinces and a federal referendum, said Uppal.
"We have to choose between what we want to do and what is possible," he said.
Rotary member Barry Irvine asked Uppal how an elected Senate would keep from becoming a second House of Commons.
Uppal responded that it will be a gradual process of change that will require the provinces to buy into the idea, but said he ultimately envisions it continuing as a chamber "of sober second thought."
Guillermo Bustos asked the minister about proportional representation in democracy and said the current voting system of First Past The Post doesn't truly represent all citizens.
"[Some] people who vote for a party do not have representation," he said.
But Uppal answered that several provinces have had referendums on the issue and all have voted against it.
The Leader asked about what measures the government has taken to alleviate public concerns about voting integrity, particularly in light of the recent so-called "robocalls" issue, in which voters throughout Canada claimed to have been misled by automated telephone messages.
"In parliament there was a motion presented by the opposition," he said. "We have agreed with that motion and said that we will act on it."
The minister thanked the Ladner Rotary for writing the prime minister concerning Polio eradication efforts.