Canada's appointed Senate survives vote to end it

Published March 8, 2013

A bid by the New Democratic Party to abolish Canada's appointed Senate has failed in a 186-101 vote.

Member of Parliament Craig Scott put forward the motion, calling it a "useless" body.

He said senators work in the upper chamber an average of only 56 days a year and are appointed virtually for life, able to serve until age 75.

Known as the upper house of "sober second thought" to review government bills, the Senate has 105 members earning a base pay of about $132,000 a year.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government "promised" to reform the Senate but in the past seven years has appointed 58 members, Scott said.

Even if passed, abolition would require a constitutional amendment approved by the provincial governments.

The New Democrats "know full well the provinces aren't going to abolish the Senate," Harper said.

The government's proposed reforms would limit senators' terms to nine years and allow the provinces to hold elections to choose its members.

In last days, Trudeau chose quality of life

An e-book says the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau rejected cancer treatment to avoid dementia.

Althia Raj reveals the information in Contender: The Justin Trudeau Story, about Trudeau's son and his bid to become the Liberal leader in a party vote next month.

"The prostate cancer could be treated but the former prime minister wanted the cancer to claim him before he lost his mind," the book said.

The elder Trudeau died six months later at age 80 in September 2000.

"He was very much at peace with the end of his life approaching and certainly wasn't interested in losing his quality of life, physically and mentally, and prolonging the process," Justin Trudeau said.

News in brief

• Canadian music legend Stompin' Tom Connors, who sang about his country and its people, has died at the age of 77 at his home in Ontario. Connors carried a board with him to "stomp" out the beat with his left foot while performing. Corus Radio's 37 stations across Canada paid tribute to Connors on Saturday night with a simultaneous broadcast of his famous Hockey Song.

• A $51,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrests of the people responsible for killing a Canadian couple in their winter home in Hallandale Beach, Fla. Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy announced the reward, calling the deaths of David Pichosky, 71, and his wife of four years, Rochelle Wise, 66, from Toronto a "senseless" homicide. He vowed that the case "will be solved."

Facts and figures

The Canadian economy created 50,700 jobs last month, keeping the unemployment rate at 7 percent, a four-year low.

It boosted the dollar to 97.25 cents U.S. while the U.S. greenback returns $1.0283 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.

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The Bank of Canada kept its key interest rate steady at 1 percent while the prime-lending rate remained at 3 percent.

Stock markets are mixed, with the Toronto exchange index up at 12,833 points and the TSX Venture index down at 1,114 points.

Lotto 6-49: (March 6) 1, 5, 14, 27, 30 and 41; bonus 3. (March 2) 6, 29, 31, 33, 40 and 43; bonus 48. Lotto Max: (March 1) 1, 2, 5, 6, 38, 39 and 46; bonus 33.

Regional briefs

• Some members of British Columbia's Liberal party want Premier Christy Clark to resign over a scandal involving a leaked plan to woo ethnic voters to help win the May 14 election. Clark denied knowledge of the plan written by her deputy chief of staff Kim Haackstad, who has resigned. Multiculturalism Minister John Yap also resigned pending an investigation.

• MGM Resorts International and partner Cadillac Fairview are proposing a $4 billion casino complex at Exhibition Place in Toronto. It would include a 1,200-room hotel, a permanent home for Cirque du Soleil, 10 restaurants, concert center and shopping mall on Lake Ontario. City council is split over allowing a casino and will vote on the issue next month.

• "Scammers" are taking advantage of the good deeds of Allen and Violet Large of Truro, Nova Scotia, who gave away most of their $11.2 million lottery winnings two years ago to charities. Overseas scammers have been sending emails saying the Larges (Violet has since died) want to give them money in exchange for bank information and payment of "transaction fees."

Jim Fox can be reached at