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Majority backs Harper's plan for Senate elections and term limits, poll finds

A worker cleans the Senate chamber in Ottawa on June 1, 2011.

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

Canadians are largely in agreement with the Conservative government's plan to limit Senate terms and require prospective senators to win their seat in an election, a new poll suggests.

But the online survey conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion also found deep divisions over the future of the Red Chamber.

More than a third of those polled said Canada does not need a Senate. And more than two thirds said they would support a nationwide referendum to decide the future of the Senate in Canada.

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A majority of respondents in every province said they would support limiting appointed senators to eight-year terms - a proposal put forth by Prime Minister Stephen Harper that has been opposed by Liberal senators and, reportedly, even some Conservatives he appointed.

And 72 per cent of those surveyed said Canadians should be allowed to directly elect senators..

But, when asked if the Senate should be abolished altogether, roughly a third said yes, another third said no, and a final third said they were unsure.

The respondents were also divided about whether the appointment of senators should be left to the Prime Minister or turned over to a panel of distinguished Canadians. About 39 per cent said the panel would be their preferred option while 38 per cent said they believed the Prime Minister should do the job.

When asked if Mr. Harper was being hypocritical by appointing senators despite his long-standing opposition to the Senate in its current form, 57 per cent of those surveyed said yes and 43 per cent said no.

The polling company has conducted a number of surveys on Senate reform and says these views have remained consistent over the past two years.

The online survey of 1,000 randomly selected Canadians adults who are members of the Angus Reid Forum panel was conducted from July 8 to July 9.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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