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Canada PM makes landmark committee appearance to push Senate reform

[JURIST] Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official website] Thursday urged [press release] members of the Canadian Senate's Special Committee on Senate Reform [official website] to support legislation [text] that would limit terms in the country's unelected Senate [official website] to eight years. Currently, senators appointed on a regional basis can retain their seats until the age of 75. Harper's appearance marked the first time a sitting Canadian prime minister has attended a parliamentary Senate committee meeting, although former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau testified before a committee considering the abortive Meech Lake constitutional accord [text] in 1987.

Senate reform [CBC backgrounder] has been a ongoing topic of political debate in Canada for decades. At Thursday's Senate committee meeting, Harper also discussed his plan to directly elect senators [JURIST report], which he hopes will start with Canada's next election. As a constitutional change, any adjustment of the Senate's composition would require the approval of seven of the country's ten provinces. The Globe and Mail has more.

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