Yeesh, I sure opened a can of worms with this one.
Other then to mitigate its effects. Therefore the proportional system (I not a great fan either) would counter the "first past the post. Your MP is accountable to you, the constituent. The Senate would be accountable to something else [province (?)]. The province would pick from the slate of candidates based on the portion of the vote, so an NDP province couldn't select 10 NDPers unless they had 100% of the vote.
What would happen if I wanted to run for the Senate as an Independent because I felt the NDP was to socialistic, the Liberals had too much entrenched cronyism, and the Conservatives had too many regressive skeletons in the closet? Should I be denied my chance to represent my province in the Senate because don't want to submit myself to party politics?
Or you break the province into areas, broken how ever, as long as the # of Senators are even and don't go over 10 (or 12 or 15 whatever). Example, Manitoba - 5 from Winnipeg, 5 from the rest of MB, Ontario - 5 for Southern On, and 5 from Northern On.
That might be necessary. Take BC for example. How is a senator supposed to express regional interests as defined by someone living in downtown Vancouver (multiculturalism, environmental issues) as opposed to regional issues as defined by someone in a small Northern forestry town (International trade, health of the forestry industry). Although I would argue that this may fall upon the Member of Parliament in the House to deal with, we probably wouldn't go wrong by giving "areas of responsibility" for Senators elected from a province.
You have a strong dislike for provincial governments (my guess an extra layer) but they are necessary in a country our size, because we are regional by nature. A solution that works in the Maritimes, won't necessarily work on the Paraires.
As for doing away with provincial governments, the main line of my reasoning is that I think they are no different then the Federal government in the sense that they are macro-political identities. My MLA, in far away Victoria, does about as good of a job as my MP, far away in Ottawa. The fact that I need a representative to manage my political matters at two distinct levels is redundant. I would prefer to see Canada built upon a dual system, a macro-political level where representatives work as part of the greater whole for national issues, and a micro-political level where citizens take a more direct role in determining local politics.
I'm looking at provincial roles, and I just don't see how giving them to a provincial government, with its own codes and laws, makes things more efficient or democratic. For example:
Health Care: Government management of Health Care has proved to be a farce, no matter what large bureaucracy manages it. If health care was given to the local level to manage (starting with the individual citizen managing his own universal health care dollars with a Medical Service Account system), solutions could be tailored to meet local health care needs, rather than some large government bureaucracy deciding what is best.
Highways and Motor Vehicles: Do the laws of physics change from province to province, requiring different laws and driving standards, as well as different requirements for road maintenance?
Education: As with Health Care, does giving the responsibility to one big bureaucracy or another really affect the quality of education that a young Canadian can receive? Do the provinces hold a monopoly on the truth that the Federal government could never exercise? Let's face it, we need to increase the level of education for all Canadians. All my provincially specialized education really taught me is that the Royal Engineers and Judge Begbie hung a few Natives in the mid 1800's and that White people suck for coming to Canada and oppressing the Metis pursuit for freedom....
Other trivial things: I find it absurd that an 18 year old Canadian soldier can drink in his mess in Alberta, but if is on exercise in BC, he is considered a minor. Is important for the Province of Quebec that they avoid a "one-size-fits-all" Legal Age and go with 18, despite what the people of Ontario have across the river? This is just an example of the many little silly discrepancies that divide the nation and exacerbate provincial differences, rather then promoting the notion of a Canadian standard.
I recognize that many of these functions may be to placate Quebec Nationalists and the like. I would argue that the job of the Government is to ensure that we have efficient and good government, not to placate separatists and other sorts of regional chauvinism's.
Seriously though, the provincial governments are there to prevent people in one region from being screwed over because a federal government is more interested in the other side of the country (note that unfortunately this does nothing to prevent people from being screwed over in general). Feelings of alienation (e.g. Quebec and western provinces) would go through the roof if there was only a federal level.
You don't think people feel screwed by the federal government for overrepresenting certain regions right now under the current system? We suffer from a antiquated federal system that does no effort in attempting to alleviate regional tensions and provincial governments that are too busy trying to fight for their piece of the pie to really offer any solution. When is the last time you ever heard of Provincial and Federal governments working together?
Except for defending and securing the nation and promoting its interests abroad, everything - if efficiency is a consideration. If we can spare no expense, then we are free to indulge in federally crafted one-size-fits-all solutions; no community need worry, for example, about deciding between whether to employ finite financial resources to build schools or roads.
I would argue that "one-size-fits-all" solutions are the only results of federally directed programs. Perhaps we may need to tweek things to ensure that they run well, but I think the principle can work. Take policing for example. Rather then have a hodge-podge of different provincial and municipal police forces, with varying levels of capabilities and resources, why don't we better organize the RCMP to operate with the regional or municipal governments (which seems to be a big complaint these days), ensuring that local needs are just as prominant as national directives.
But financial resources are finite, you say? Well, then let's devolve the decision-making power down to the lowest level: province before nation, regional district before province, municipality or community before regional district, and family before community. That way each group can decide at its respective level of responsibility how to meet its most pressing needs instead of its peers' most pressing needs. If my community needs a walk-in family clinic rather than a MRI clinic, we aren't likely to be well-served if big government buys us a MRI clinic.
I totally agree. Let the micro-political level handle the requisite issues, sending large scale stuff up to the macro level. Why have two jurisdictions to fight over who gets what part of the macro-political pie, only increasing the level of duplication and redundancy?
Everyone has problems they believe they could solve if only they had enough money and power. Unfortunately the problems are different. So, it is best to let people solve problems at the lowest possible levels.
My bottom line is that provincial governments are no better then the Federal governments at delivering services. Either one just gobbles up public funds in the massive bureaucracies they span. I'd rather have 1 massive bureaucracy in Canada then the current 11. If effective regional representation could be found in the federal government (a Triple E Senate seems to be one method of moving towards this goal) I just don't see how keeping a provincial government with a hundred or so politicians and a couple tens of thousand additional bureaucrats would be necessary.
The number of senators need not be identical for each province. Unless the Senate has legislative power of its own, short terms should suffice for a role as a watchdog of legislation passed by Parliament. Even with party cronyism, I would expect the Senate to have a more interesting and useful balance of ideological representation than Parliament.
Back to the topic of senators, I would demand that each province be given an equal number of Senate seats. If we don't, we are in danger of lapsing the Upper House back towards a representative of population-based constituencies (ie: like the House of Commons), rather then a representative of regional issues. Sadly this is how it is today; how can a province such as Nova Scotia or British Columbia expect any effective regional representation when Ontario and Quebec possess over 50% of the Commons seats and a little under 50% of the Senate seats?
Well, anyways, it's getting late and I'm starting to ramble on.
Hopefully some of this will get filtered out into a more coherent set of ideas in the ensuing scrum.