Yukon Senator Dan Lang says he may stay on for longer than eight years in the upper chamber.
Lang was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2008, and has now entered his eighth year as senator for Yukon.
Back in 2008, Lang was among a group of 18 Senate appointees who all promised to support eight-year term limits and other Senate reforms.
“I don’t think I would have wanted it to go on any longer,” Lang told the News at the time.
But in an interview last week, Lang had a different take on things.
“My initial commitment was eight years,” he said. “The question of my tenure is predicated on my ability to represent this area, which I feel I do and have done in the best interests of Yukon.”
Lang’s spokesperson, Naresh Raghubeer, later followed up to clarify.
“As long as he’s able to effectively represent Yukon, he’s got good health and can make a contribution for Yukon and Canada in the Senate, he’ll continue to serve,” he said.
Raghubeer suggested that Lang’s initial eight-year commitment hinged on Senate reforms that never came to pass.
Harper’s agreement with the 18 appointees in 2008 was unofficial. Earlier that year, Harper had tried to push through a bill limiting senators to eight-year terms, but was unable to get it passed.
The former prime minister introduced another bill in 2011 that would have limited senators to nine-year terms. It would also have seen the provinces and territories hold voluntary elections for Senate nominees.
But in 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the government could not introduce such changes unilaterally. Instead, the reforms would require the consent of seven provinces representing half the country’s population.
Subsequently, Harper shelved his plans for Senate reform. As it stands today, senators can serve until mandatory retirement at age 75. Lang is 67.
Of course, there’s nothing preventing senators from adopting self-imposed term limits. But Lang is not obliged to step down at the end of eight years.
Raghubeer said Lang’s past statements simply show that he would have adhered to any legislative changes.
“There are comments that said he’d respect the term limits imposed. But there were no term limits imposed,” he said. “His position back then was fluid as it pertained to the legislation being brought in.”
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