Banning Grit senators’ activism? Mercer says not on his home turf

‘I’m a member of the Liberal party’

Justin Trudeau’s surprise decision to boot those 32 Liberal senators out of his parliamentary caucus is being debated mainly in terms of how significant the move will turn out to be in the functioning of his party on Parliament Hill—and his ability to sell voters on his seriousness as a reformer.

But then there’s that other matter of Trudeau’s seemingly sweeping vow to keep those senators, who happen to still be Liberals, away from the party’s political operations. He declared yesterday that “they will no longer be Liberal organizers, fundraisers, activists in any form.”

That sounded like a pretty broad set of prohibitions. But at least one senator—bred-in-the-bone Nova Scotian Liberal Terry Mercer, a former national director of the party, appointed to the upper chamber by Jean Chrétien a decade ago—says Trudeau’s fiat applies only at the national level.

“I’m not going to be active nationally on fundraising. I’m not going to be active nationally on organization. I respect what Mr. Trudeau says. However, I am an active Liberal in Nova Scotia, and if I am asked by any Liberal association, federally or provincially, in Nova Scotia, to help them in any way, I would.”

He noted that he lives in MP Scott Brison’s riding, and Brison isn’t likely to need his help, beyond hammering a sign into his lawn and knocking on some doors. Liberals running elsewhere in the province, though, he thinks might well need a hand with organization or fundraising.

I asked if that didn’t present a problem, given how strictly Trudeau framed the new limits on what senators are allowed to do.

“I’m a member of the Liberal party,” Mercer said. “I have been long before I was a member of the Senate, almost 50 years. The Liberal party has been an extremely important part of our family for a long time. My mother, before her death a few years ago, told us some really interesting stories about when she was a little girl in the Liberal party.”

That sounded pretty heartfelt. He then concluded: “Before I was a member of the national caucus, I was an activist. I’m not longer in the national caucus now, and I’m still an activist.” It will be interesting to see how many other Liberal senators have similar local and regional loyalties and enthusiasms that they expect will still involve them as “organizers, fundraisers, activists.”




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Banning Grit senators’ activism? Mercer says not on his home turf

  1. Justin: There are no more Liberal senators.
    Liberals Senators: Oh yes there is. We are senators and we are Liberals.
    If Harper had tried this stunt, and the Conservative senators responded the same way, it would be considered a national scandal, with headlines talking about the open war within the Conservative party.
    In other news Justin has boldly declared: “there are no more bananas” and that when he is elected PM they will forever be known as “long yellows”.
    Bold.

    • In reply the head of the banana growers association said: “I don’t think much will change. They are still bananas.”

      • That is the longest feeble joke I have ever read here at Maclean’s.

    • As Senators they are no longer participating in matters of the LPC that involve Parliament. They can be members of the LPC, and how they affiliate and do their job in the Senate is up to them.

      I realize that there is a fundamental disconnect for CPC control freaks and hyperpartisans, but I’m amazed at how hard that is to understand that actually giving people the right to exercise their own judgement can be a powerful thing (of course, that generally scares the beejezus of people who try to retain power by coercion and subterfuge).

    • http://www2.macleans.ca/2014/01/30/the-inside-story-behind-justin-trudeaus-senate-play/

      Here’s what happened. You’re such a troll Biffer. You don’t care if you’re even in the same room when it comes to the known facts on the table do you?
      The fact that senators, that in some cases have decades of history with the LPC, find it tough to let go( an entirely human reaction) does not detract from Trudeau’s intention to have them sit as independents. Sh*t happens in politics as elsewhere in life. But keep on trolling, it’s all you know.

      • The good news is that once you point out he is a liar, he generally slithers away, never to return. Although that does not stop him from trying the same thing on the very next blog post.

        Personally, I think if we all just responded by pointing out his lies, and not trying to engage him in any other way, he will lose interest.

        • Oh he returns.. there’s a reason kcm called him Biffer, after all.

          • I know, I call him that too. He has been outed on his many changing names…

  2. This will undoubtedly be a tricky problem to handle both consistently and tactfully. His future appointees will be truly independent, free to support the LPC or not. But what to do with the old party loyalists? A tricky problem in terms of optics politically, and just in terms of simple human decency.

    • Maybe don’t over promise and then under deliver?

      I mean at this point there are going to be trackers following every one of these senators just waiting to pounce when they do something partisan.

      Trudeau has the power to order his caucus not to speak to senators as well as formally remove them from the Liberal party itself and ban them from all events.

      Will he need to make an example of someone to avoid appearing weak and having the senators get the message ? If they truly care about the party why are they undermining Trudeau. I thought everyone agreed to end the Turner-Chretien-Martin feuds.

      Its the old split, either you are a dictator or you are weak. Humility is the answer. Trudeau would do well to avoid sweeping promises in the future. Feeds into idea of big ego.

      • That’s BS. The plan was to have them sit as independents. That got shot down by another Conservative speaker…this time in the senate. As for the senators, i doubt it has anything to do with a challenge to JT’s authority. Could you easily let go a lifetimes work in the blink of an eye? One thing this Trudeau isn’t is dictatorial.

  3. In the eyes of the voter as he enters the polling booth there are only two political parties—Harper`s Conservatives and everybody else.
    So now in addition to the everybody else consisting of the NDP, the Liberals, the Greens, and the Bloc, now you have the Independent Liberal Senators.
    In the long run that`s really all that was accomplished this week. Just another indistinguishable, annoying, opposition group that sound like all the rest.

  4. The comments from the ardent Justin supporters are precious. It’s a fascinating insight into how Justin gets his support. Lifelong liberals who vow to be lifelong liberals will suddenly be “independent” because Justin says so. And to not believe that we are getting these free unicorns is to be a “liar”. Of course paraphrasing the head of the Liberal caucus who said he’ll still be a Liberal and not much will change must be a “lie” because Justin says that can’t be. A fascinating display. Jim Jones would be proud.

    • So you have tried the lies and the paranoid conspiracy theory about media bias. When that failed, spectacularly, you were forced to resort to name calling.

      Wow. Well you succeeded. I feel so ashamed that a lying multi-named troll thinks badly of me because I support Justin Trudeau. How will I ever look in the mirror again?

      Ha ha ha ha ha

    • Yup. If you point out that Trudeau said “I admire China’s basic form of dictatorship”, the partisan Liberals will call you a liar, despite the fact that it was widely reported and Trudeau himself won’t deny that he said it.

      You see this cognitive dissonance in Liberals all the time. Like when they talk about “science”, the only science they refer to of course is the science that backs up their predetermined conclusions. Any science that refutes their predetermined conclusions, suddenly becomes “not science”. They like to style themselves as “evidence based decision makers”, but the only “evidence” they even acknowledge must support their conclusions.

      Liberals are have partisan blinders on the same as any Dipper or Conservative, the difference is that Liberals are too arrogant to admit it or see it.

      • Really? Has someone called you a liar for saying Trudeau said that?

        I know I have called out many people on these boards for claiming Trudeau said the bureaucracy he admires THE MOST is China, which is a lie.

        I would be interested in what, exactly, you said to be called a liar.

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