Visiting the Senate of Canada

As you know, this past week the interns traveled to Quebec City and Ottawa for their first educational trip. I thought I would take this time to share an interesting meeting we had in Ottawa. The last meeting the interns had was with Charles Robert, the principal clerk of the Senate of Canada. Mr. Robert gave us an in-depth history of the Senate, and gave his reasons why he thinks it still has value, such as representing the regions and serving as the Chamber of “sober second thought.”  He made the case that while the Senate isn’t democratic, it’s important that it be so, so it can independently evaluate legislation, as long as it doesn’t outright challenge the authority of the House of Commons. He defended the institution against calls for having it be elected, saying it could lose these important roles if that is done. Since I have a background in political institutions, I found his take incredibly interesting. However, I challenged some of his notions of the original purpose of the Senate, and made the case that we would be better served with the Senate’s abolition. We engaged in a lively debate that seemed to entertain the other interns. Despite our disagreements, It was great to hear Mr. Robert’s take on a controversial part of Canada’s political system, and I really appreciate him taking the time to speak with us

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