Senate reform may suffer same fate as Nadon, legal experts say

The Conservative government’s plans for Senate reform may be headed for the same fate as the appointment of Marc Nadon – rejection at the hands of the Supreme Court, some legal observers say.

The parallels are hard to miss. In each case, the federal government asked the Supreme Court if Ottawa could unilaterally change important features of a key Canadian institution – in one case, how Supreme Court judges from Quebec are appointed; in the other, how members of the Canadian Senate are chosen. Ottawa wants to hold regional elections for senators.

In Friday’s 6-1 ruling that turned thumbs down on the appointment of Justice Nadon, the court said the Supreme Court is a vital part of the country’s constitutional fabric. Any changes to the composition of the court need the unanimous consent of the provinces, it said.

If that were not the case, the court said, Parliament could abolish the court on a simple majority vote.

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This content has been updated on August 23, 2014 at 12:19.