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REFLECTIONS ON THE SPLENDOUR AND MEANING OF OUR CANADIAN SENATE, WRITTEN BY VINCE COURTENAY

 

Hon. Yonah Martin (Deputy Leader of the Government):  There is a thin brass rod across the aisle just inside the doors of the Canadian Senate. One must walk around it to enter the Senate Chamber.

Yet none can do so without the expressed invitation of a Senator. No Member of Parliament from the House of Commons, which is just down the Hall of Honour, may enter without that invitation and accompaniment. Not even the Prime Minister of Canada may enter without it.

Yet it is a thin rod that any public school girl or boy could easily shove aside, or dash around it. Yet nobody does. Nobody ever has; neither Member of Parliament, nor Prime Minister, nor prelate, nor policeman, nor student.

Nobody ever does because there is high respect for the institutions of Canada, and because the Senate of Canada is the senior of the two venerable houses of our nation’s governing Parliament. It has been so since 1867.

The brass bar is only symbolic, for those who need such to remind them, and most do not. What forms the real gate to this chamber is unseen, but it is known and felt; a propriety, a respect not just for those appointed to work there, but for the highest governmental body in Canada, for the democracy that is this free nation.

In those countries ruled by ruthless dictators and conquerors the brass bars have been kicked open and trampled upon many times. In such places cruel leaders have usurped the free will and history of a people, to put them under their yoke.

In Canada, such a thing is not even thinkable.

 

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