Last week we marked the 150th anniversary of the first sitting of the Senate, which took place on November 6, 1867.
The Canada of today is a country that knows no equal in the world. Certainly we owe that to our founders’ spirit of compromise, as well as to the Senate, which played a fundamental role in building the nation.
Canada was born not out of an ideology or a grand scheme or a war or civil strife. It was essentially the result of a pragmatic approach to resolve the unification of two linguistic communities and of different regions with various levels of wealth and aspiration to create a greater country.
It is the Senate that was entrusted with the responsibility of having regional voices heard at the centre of government and with speaking on behalf of its minorities so that they would not be swamped under the weight of the majorities. Rights and freedoms of Canadians and of Aboriginal peoples are always better guaranteed when the Senate uses its independent thinking to evaluate the impact of legislation on those who have lower voices or lower capacities to be heard by the majority.
It is in the Senate that the federal principle was enshrined, and it is for this reason that it was given legislative power equal to that of the House of Commons in the enactment of legislation. As long as the Senate fulfills its constitutional duty, Canada will continue to thrive and remain a beacon of liberty and equal dignity for all.