Nunavut Post

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Senator from Nunavut says ‘antiquated’ landowner law needs to go

Senator from Nunavut

Key Takeaways:

  • “They are requirements that have not changed since the Constitution Act of 1867,” Senator Patterson previously stated in the Senate.
  • According to Blacklock’s Reporter, Nunavut Senator Dennis Patterson is challenging one of the few Confederation-era laws still on the books in the hopes of repealing the outdated law.

Patterson called the law requiring senators to own at least $4,000 in paid-up equity “antiquated and elitist.” “They are requirements that haven’t changed since the Constitution Act of 1867,” Patterson told the Senate earlier. “These are antiquated and elitist measures that have no place in modern society.”

Patterson first attempted to repeal the then-149-year-old law, which requires senators to own “real and personal property” worth $4,000 in addition to any debts and liabilities, in 2016.

“Millions of Canadians across the country are not qualified to sit as senators and fully participate in the governing of Canada solely because they do not own land or have a net worth of less than $4,000,” Patterson said Thursday while introducing S-228.

“Canadians should not be barred from participating in the parliamentary process simply because they rent or own property on a reserve.”

“Leaving aside the purpose for which it was enacted, I suspect the provision made a lot of sense in 1867,” Patterson said. The original $4,000 property requirement represented a senator’s annual salary at the time, a level that remained constant until 1925 when industrial wages were $60 or less per day.

Twelve factory owners, ten bankers, four railway executives, three publishers, two law professors, and a judge were among the 72 members of the 1867 Senate.

“This was the chamber that was going to protect the rich by making sure it was populated by the rich,” said then-Senator Joan Fraser (Que.) during the repeal debate in 2018.

“It meant a lot in 1867.” It was an essential requirement, and it was done on purpose.” The original British North America Act of 1867 imposed similar requirements on MPs. In addition, candidates from Ontario and Québec were required to own property worth at least £500.

After the Senate confirmed Sister Peggy Butts, a Catholic nun who had taken a vow of poverty, efforts to repeal the property requirement law began. Butts was granted title to a $4,000 lot by the Congrégation de Notre Dame de Montréal to meet property qualifications. Senator Butts, who died in 2004 at the age of 81, gave her entire salary to charity.

Source: western standard online

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