Earlier this month, former prime minister Brian Mulroney offered a couple of ideas to the Canadian Bar Association in Montreal about reforming the Senate. It was more than we heard on Parliament Hill last week, arguably the Upper Chamber’s most damaging. Auditor General Michael Ferguson released the long-awaited report on June 9 detailing his audit of more than 80,000 transactions by 116 Senators and former Senators who served in the Red Chamber between April 2011 and March 2013. It was the first time in Canadian history that an auditor general conducted a comprehensive audit of a Chamber of Parliament, and it wasn’t pretty. The expenses of 30 Senators were flagged as inappropriate; nine were referred to the RCMP for investigation. The audit confirmed what many had suspected since Senate expenses became an explosive issue more than two years ago: Senator Mike Duffy, now under a different type of scrutiny a few blocks south on Elgin Street, was not exceptional. As the news of the abuse Mr. Ferguson’s office documented reverberated through the Hill and across the country, there was disgust (predictable but not illegitimate) and calls for tearing the Red Chamber down (same). The problem is how. With an election on the horizon and a citizenry as aware as it ever will be of the Senate’s woes, there should be serious talk about how to reform the embattled institution. Mr. Mulroney, who wasn’t shy about constitutional debates as prime minister, said the Senate should appoint a pair of “prominent Canadians” to develop a code of conduct for the Upper Chamber that would include strict rules for residency requirements and expenses. And the Prime Minister should only be able to appoint Senators from “ranked lists provided by the provinces.” Not a bad start. When Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau dumped the Liberal Senators from his caucus more than a year ago, in a move that anticipated the AG’s findings last week, he proposed an arm’s-length nomination process that would provide candidates based on social merit. But last week he wasn’t as outspoken about it. Mr. Trudeau criticized NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s zeal for abolition and generally took the safe route, arguing that Canadians don’t want leaders getting into a protracted constitutional debate when there are jobs and the economy to talk about. Mr. Mulcair saw the opportunity to benefit from the NDP’s long-standing call to do away with the Senate and he wasn’t shy about seizing it. He told CBC’s Power and Politics that he would work “non-stop” for Senate abolition. “I’m not going to be like Stephen Harper, who threw in the towel,” he said. He also told the show that Senators do “nothing useful in a democracy.” But his path to rolling up the red carpet was less clear. And the Prime Minister, once the most strident of voices calling for Senate reform, seemed pleased to be as far away from Ottawa as possible. All the questions about the government’s record on Senate reform and the reputation of the Senators Mr. Harper appointed were passed to his parliamentary secretary, Paul Calandra. The Prime Minister’s tone on Senate reform has shifted considerably: last week he was making it clear that it’s up to the Senate to solve its own problems. Mr. Ferguson’s report has angered Canadians. Party leaders should be ready to talk seriously on the campaign trail about how to reform an institution that won’t simply go away.