Our Senate is based on geography; there is a certain number of Senators from each Province and they have to own real estate in that Province to qualify. In the days when our Parliament was designed that made sense because our country was regionally divided and a large number of people were farmers. Wealth was defined by owning land and our economy was based on Agriculture and resources. Getting from one end of the country to the other was arduous and time consuming. Communicating with one another involved someone physically carrying a letter over long distances.
Our reality today is different. We are still somewhat regionally divided, but there are many groups that share characteristics just as important as those which define our regions that are widely dispersed across the country. As an example, consider people with disabilities. Statistics tell us that 1 in 7 of us has a disability and that the percentage is growing. Yet a group that forms less than 15% of the population in a constituency rarely gets a voice let alone a seat at the table. While the challenges faced by disabled citizens in a rural town on the prairies are somewhat different than those faced by someone in Toronto, they have much in common and in our modern connected world they often do share experiences through national organizations and social media.
I propose that a number of Senate seats be created to specifically represent these communities. I suggest that any community that can identify members in each Province, define the characteristics that make them a distinct group, and get a significant number of signatures on a membership roster (say 50,000 for example), should be considered for a Senate seat. This could be done by petitioning the Governor General and the seat should be voted on by the existing Senate. Once the seat is created the group itself should identify their Senator by a fair electoral process.
I think this would lead to more people feeling that their specific circumstances and issues are being addressed and their voices heard in debate. When choosing an MP/Party we get a single vote and it's often based on just a few issues; rarely does one person or party platform match all of our desires.