The Canadian Senate: To Be or Not To Be?


September 25, 2014 :: Dr. Lois Wilson
Moderated by Tad Mitsui

Many Canadian provinces used to have upper chambers, known as provincial legislative councils; the last one to be abolished was Quebec’s in 1968. If Canadians made it clear they wanted to abolish the federal Senate, how could it be done and would it be wise? It is a particularly difficult question because, in order to be abolished, the Senate itself would have to agree to its own demise and as well, majority provincial agreement would likely be required.

The Senate can arguable play a very useful role in legislation, acting as a “sober second thought”, but it has not been well served recently by the appointments of highly partisan Senators. The speaker will articulate her thoughts on the Senate in the context of her own experience as an Independent Senator and the effectiveness of the upper chamber amid evolving controversies.

Speaker: Dr. Lois Wilson

The Very Reverend, The Honourable Dr Lois Wilson was ordained a United Church minister in 1965, and shared a team congregational ministry for fifteen years with her husband Rev. Dr. Roy Wilson, before becoming the first woman Moderator of the United Church of Canada in 1980. As President of both the Canadian and World Council of Churches, Dr. Wilson visited partner churches in Asia, Latin America, India and Africa as well as being a leading advocate of inter-faith encounters within Canada. She monitored elections in El Salvador, Mexico, Chile, Sri Lanka and Guatemala, and developed a grass roots knowledge of the challenges facing the developing world.

Dr. Wilson became a leading advocate of international human rights and Chair of the Board of Rights and Democracy and served a four year appointment as a Member of the Refugee Status Advisory Committee. As an independent Senator in Canada in 1998, she was Canada's Special Envoy to the Sudan, led Government delegations to China and to North Korea, co- founded the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights, and co-chaired the Canadian Committee on Women, Peace and Security for the UN, which brought together NGO’s, Governments and Parliamentarians around Resolution 1325 for gender equality.

Dr. Wilson was awarded the World Federalist Peace Prize and U.N. (Canada) Pearson Peace Medal. Currently she is Distinguished Minister in Residence at Emmanuel College, Univ of Toronto, a member of the Public Review Board of the CAW, a Director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, and an Advisory Board member of Mining Watch (Canada). Previously an Officer of the Order of Canada, Dr. Wilson is one of a few Canadians promoted to the top rank of Companion. Author of 8 books, the most recent one being: I Want to Be in That Number (cool saints I have known), paying tribute to human rights and peace activists Dr. Wilson has known.

Moderator: Tad Mitsui
Date: Thursday, September 25, 2014
Time: Noon - 1:30 PM
Location: Country Kitchen Catering (Lower level of The Keg) 1715 Mayor Magrath Dr S
Cost: $11.00 (includes lunch)


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