Threlkeld: Juries of citizens should select senators

Still catching up with the series of articles Simon Threlkeld published in 1997-98.

Juries of citizens should select senators

Simon Threlkeld

Toronto Star (Toronto, Ontario), September 9, 1998, page A17.

The current method of choosing the Senate is undemocratic. The public has no say in who is chosen, patronage is rife and the lifetime terms make senators unaccountable.

The best way to choose the Senate is for each senator to be chosen by a jury of citizens for a set term, say by a jury of 15 or so for a term of three or four years. The main virtue of juries is that they combine a capacity to make an informed choice with being a representative cross-section of the citizens. In a democracy there is no better authority than one which is both well-informed and representative.

Juries are representative because they are chosen from the citizens by random selection. In order for the selection to be truly random, each citizen must have the same chance of being chosen as any other.

Candidates can be given an equal opportunity to present their views

Juries are suited for making an informed choice because they can meet together face-to-face and work full-time for the weeks or months needed to become well-informed about a matter. Jurors can be paid so that they can afford to serve full-time.
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