Prime Minister Stephen Harper says it is up to the premiers to decide if the Senate should be reformed or abolished -- but in the meantime, he will not appoint any new members.
Harper made the comments in the Saskatchewan legislative building this afternoon after touring the forest fire zone in La Ronge this morning.
There are currently 22 vacancies on the Senate and Harper has not made any appointments in the past two-and-a-half years. He says he will keep it that way unless the premiers agree to meaningful change.
”But look, they have got a chance, the ball is in their court, they can now propose reform," he says. "In the meantime, the membership of the Senate is going to continue to shrink and Canadians are going to the ask the question, 'If you don’t have a program of reform and we're not missing the senators, then why not just abolish it'?"
Premier Brad Wall says there is no chance the premiers will reach agreement. He says that is why his position is to get rid of it, one way or the other.
"If we can't come to an agreement on how this thing could be meaningfully reformed then surely we must be able to decide that in 2015 that this country, being the modern democracy that it is, ought not to provide decision-making authority to an appointed body," he says.
The premier did get a favourable response from the Prime Minister on his proposal for a national forest fire strategy that would involve an emergency supply of equipment, additional training for the military and better coordination among the provinces during years of severe fire threats.
Harper held private meetings this morning with the mayors of La Ronge and Air Ronge, as well as the chief of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band.
He personally thanked them for their hard work and professionalism during an extremely difficult and stressful time.
Harper also met with some of the local firefighters who were on the front lines.