The Senate: Pay attention
Author: Amy Rose Gofton
Recently, I sent away for a stack of the “Senate Hall of Shame” collector’s cards the New Democratic Party (NDP) has been giving away. Each card features a slightly grainy and unflattering image of a Conservative or Liberal Senator, with a quick bio outlining their ”wrongs”. Also included on each card is a massive monetary figure, in each case, exceeding $1 million; this is what, according to the NDP, each Senator will cost taxpayers over the course of their careers.
Putting aside the cards’ obvious propagandism (we are having an eating contest next year), they do provide Canadians and those residing in Canada, with some things to think about. The Senate, whose members are appointed for life, is funded by taxpayer money. If, indeed, taxpayer money is being wasted, shouldn’t the taxpayers demand action? Who are the taxpayers?
If you’re like me and you hold a job to pay for schooling, then you’re probably a taxpayer. If, like many students, you’re not working, then you’ll be a taxpayer a couple years from now. We as students, make up a significant portion of taxpayers and future taxpayers, yet most of us are paying little to no attention to the scandals and skirmishes occurring in Ottawa.
As of late, both the media and the major Federal parties have told us that the Senate is broken and must be fixed or abolished. If, as the NDP collector’s cards suggest, millions of our tax dollars are being wasted through an inefficient legislative process, shouldn’t we take a closer look? Shouldn’t we, as students, inquire as to what is being done? Should we not, find some outlet to express our distaste of inefficient government? After all, they are our tax dollars and future tax dollars that will be wasted.
Every dollar lost through inefficiency now and in the future is one that could have been used to fund something else. As students, as a solidaristic group – a part of a generation – who will one day inherit both the power and the problems of Canada, we have to wonder what kind of weight is going to rest on our shoulders if we don’t engage in issues – like the current debates over the Senate – early on in our lives.
Pushing political issues like the Senate to the back of our minds and assuming that the government will iron out the problems, or that they will fix things to our satisfaction, if we simply ignore the issues, is ignorant. With the coming of the 2015 eating contest, senate reform may very well get filed under unfinished business as a wave of new issues stumble across the desks and minds of our politicians. A problem ignored is still a problem. The first step to engaging in politics is to pay attention.