Reform Senate by using Random Selection

The Senate expenses scandal has taken Canadians by storm.  Senators who are unelected and often hyper-partisan have been caught flagrantly snuffling their snouts in the public trough.  Here's a refreshing thought -- a Tribunate-style Senate composed of randomly-selected citizens!!  This would ensure that real Canadians from a variety of backgrounds and incomes join together to truly reform the house of sober second thought.

Here's a description of a similar proposal for the USA from a recent article by Stuart White:

...[John] McCormick proposes that the US revive and update a key institution of the Roman republic: the Tribunate. In a fundamental reform of the US constitution, a relatively small group of citizens (McCormick suggests 51 people) is to be chosen at random each year to sit on the Tribunate. They will have power to call on outside expertise of their own choosing, to assist in their deliberations. This assembly will have complete control of its own agenda. It will not merely issue recommendations, but have some degree of independent political authority. Specifically, it will have the power to put at least one proposal per year to a popular referendum. It will also have the power to veto one law made by Congress, one executive order of the President, and one decision of the Supreme Court per year; and the power to initiate impeachment proceedings against officeholders in any branch of government. Finally, in order to make it an institution that represents the people in contrast to the ‘nobles’, eligibility for the Tribunate will be limited to those in the bottom 90 per cent of the wealth distribution (and, within this 90 per cent, to those who have no significant record of holding political office). In McCormick’s view, a Tribunate of this kind can help ensure that popular preferences are better represented in the political process. Its mere existence, on these terms, will also promote a certain kind of class consciousness, he argues: an awareness that society is divided into a people and an elite, whose interests are not necessarily coincident.

Personally, I would remove the caveat that eligibility for the Tribunate (Senate) be limited to the bottom 90% of wealth distribution.  There's no need... random selection (and a truly effective collaborative process such as dynamic facilitation) would ensure outcomes that are fair and effective.

See the entire article by Stuart White, titled 'Taking Democracy Seriously Demands that we identify and address the danger of oligarchy.'

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