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Senate's new independence so good it should be enshrined in law: Harder

The Liberal government's representative in the Senate is urging all parties vying for power in the Oct. 21 election to promise to change the law so that future prime ministers would also use an independent, arm's-length appointment process to name new senators. Sen. Peter Harder, Government Representative in the Senate, speaks to reporters on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

OTTAWA — The Liberal government’s representative in the Senate says changes aimed at making the upper chamber a more independent place have worked so well that they should stay.

Sen. Peter Harder is urging parties vying for power in the Oct. 21 election to promise to change the law so that future prime ministers would also use an independent, arm’s-length appointment process to name new senators.

Harder says he thinks Canadians would prefer a less partisan Senate that tries to improve legislation without challenging the political legitimacy of elected MPs in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought in the process in 2016 and has since appointed 50 independent senators, who do not sit in any party caucus.

Trudeau told The Canadian Press last year he would like to enshrine the independent appointments process in legislation before the election, but the Liberals did not end up introducing a bill before Parliament wrapped up for the summer.

The Conservatives have said they would like to return to the old system where appointments are handled directly out of the Prime Minister’s Office, and the NDP is sticking with its long-standing call to abolish the Senate.

The Canadian Press