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Meech Lake constitutional headaches serve as current-day warning for leaders

OTTAWA - Newly released cabinet documents detailing the agonizing and ultimately fruitless efforts to secure the Meech Lake accord serve as a cautionary reminder to current political leaders who would reopen the Constitution to deal with the Senate. The minutes of Brian Mulroney's cabinet meetings during the first half of 1990 show how difficult it is to keep constitutional talks tightly focused and to get a deal ratified, even if initially approved by all first ministers.

Western think tank praises Trudeau's Senate reform plan, disses Harper

OTTAWA - Justin Trudeau's decision to boot senators out of the Liberal caucus is being hailed as more in western Canada's interests than Stephen Harper's "misguided" efforts to democratize the unelected chamber. And that verdict is coming from a most surprising quarter: a think tank that has championed an elected Senate for decades and is based in the prime minister's hometown, Calgary. The irony of the Canada West Foundation endorsing Trudeau's plan for Senate reform while criticizing Harper's is almost jaw-dropping.

Western think tank praises Trudeau's Senate reform plan, disses Harper

OTTAWA - Justin Trudeau's decision to boot senators out of the Liberal caucus is being hailed as more in western Canada's interests than Stephen Harper's "misguided" efforts to democratize the unelected chamber. And that verdict is coming from a most surprising quarter: a think tank that has championed an elected Senate for decades and is based in the prime minister's hometown, Calgary. The irony of the Canada West Foundation endorsing Trudeau's plan for Senate reform while criticizing Harper's is almost jaw-dropping.

Top court hears final government plea to allow easy path to Senate reform

OTTAWA - Don't make it impossible to change Canada's scandal-plagued Senate. That was the underlying message to Supreme Court justices Thursday as they wrapped up a historic hearing that will decide how — or if — the much-maligned upper house can be reformed or abolished. In the final word at the three-day hearing, the federal government urged the justices to accept its argument that modest reforms — to allow for non-binding elections and term limits for senators — can be implemented easily by Ottawa alone, without any input from the provinces.

Canada goes to court to try to reform, abolish Senate

Canada's federal government went to the nation's highest court on Tuesday seeking legal backing for its proposals to reform or abolish its Senate mired in controversy. "The Senate must change or vanish. The status quo is no longer acceptable," Minister of State for Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre said outside Parliament as the Supreme Court hearing got underway two city blocks away. "Our government has asked the top court for a legal instruction manual on Senate reform or Senate abolition," he said.

Provinces praise maligned, scandal-plagued Senate in top court hearing

OTTAWA - A Supreme Court hearing on what it would take to reform or abolish Canada's Senate is coming in the nick of time for the much-maligned upper house. The arguments advanced by the provinces will be music to senators' ears, which have been ringing for months with accusations of fraudulent expenses and corruption by four of their own.

Quebec court rejects bid to reform Canada's Senate

A Quebec court ruled Thursday that a federal government proposal to unilaterally reform Canada's Senate is unconstitutional, as calls mounted for abolishing the upper chamber mired in controversy. The Quebec Court of Appeal in an opinion said the federal government has no right to schedule Senate elections and set term limits without provincial approval. The court's opinion was requested by the government of Quebec.

Quebec hoping to derail proposed national regulator

QUEBEC - Quebec is hoping to derail Ottawa proposal for a national securities regulator by coming up with improvements to the way Canada's investment industry currently works. Quebec Finance Minister Nicolas Marceau emerged from a meeting of provincial finance ministers in Quebec City on Monday to say there was agreement to improve the current ''passport'' system.'' ''All the provinces agreed to participate in these talks,'' said Marceau, adding results are expected within a very tight deadline.

B.C. court factum says Senate reform requires provincial referendum

OTTAWA - British Columbia says a provincial referendum on Senate reform would be required by law before it could approve any reforms to the upper chamber in Ottawa. The B.C. government was the last to submit its factum to the Supreme Court of Canada in a reference case proposed last winter by the Harper Conservatives. Like other provincial and territorial governments, B.C. says any significant reforms — such as term limits for senators or Senate elections — must follow the amending formula laid out in the 1982 Constitution Act.

Feds, provs ignore regional veto law in court fight over Senate reform

OTTAWA - An important piece of Canada's constitutional puzzle is being ignored by federal and provincial governments as they argue over the correct amending procedure needed to reform or abolish the disgraced Senate. Conspicuously missing from the hundreds of pages of legal arguments submitted by governments to the Supreme Court of Canada is any mention of Bill C-110 — a 1996 law that made the already daunting rules for changing the Constitution even more challenging.
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