Bluffer's guide: What did Justin Trudeau do to the Senate? -

Bluffer’s guide: What did Justin Trudeau do to the Senate?

This changes everything. Or nothing. Or something.


Let’s attempt to parse this week’s dramatic announcement from the Liberal leader, keeping in mind that much remains to be settled over the coming weeks and months (and perhaps years and decades).

So what the heck did Justin Trudeau do on Wednesday?

Essentially, Mr. Trudeau told the 32 senators who had previously been members of the Liberal parliamentary caucus that they were no longer welcome in said caucus. He also announced that, if he becomes prime minister, he will pursue a non-partisan appointment process for the selection of senators. Here is the prepared text of his remarks to reporters, in which he posits that the Senate has two problems: partisanship and patronage.

So those 32 senators are no longer Liberals?

Well, sort of, kinda, but not really, depending on how you look at it. Those senators who, as individuals, hold memberships with the Liberal Party of Canada are still members of the Liberal Party of Canada. But they are no longer members of the Liberal parliamentary caucus. And, according to Mr. Trudeau, “as far as political operatives, these senators will no longer be Liberal organizers, fundraisers, activists in any form.”

So what does that mean?

Essentially, or at least in theory, Mr. Trudeau has drawn a line between himself (and the caucus he leads) and any senators who might happen to be members of the Liberal party. In theory, he is no longer accountable for those senators and they are no longer beholden to him. In practice, senators won’t attend the weekly meetings of the Liberal parliamentary caucus and I’m told there will be no more consultation with or co-ordination between the Liberal caucus and senators. The senators and their staff also won’t have access to Liberal party resources such as the party’s research bureau. Senator Terry Mercer has some desire to remain active in Nova Scotia, but, according to Mr. Trudeau’s office, while senators will remain party members, they won’t hold any official capacities with the national party and won’t be permitted to headline fundraising events as guest speakers. Does a ban on fundraising for the national party include a ban on fundraising for federal candidates? Such details will have to be worked out.

So the 32 senators are now independents?

Not quite. They might have chosen to go their separate ways, but instead they’ve decided to stick together as a Senate caucus and will be considered a “recognized party” in the Senate. The rules of the upper chamber define a “recognized party” as “a caucus consisting of at least five Senators who are members of the same political party. The party must have initially been registered under the Canada Elections Act to qualify for this status and have never fallen subsequently below five Senators. Each recognized party has a leader in the Senate.” In addition to sticking together, the senators have also re-affirmed the leadership of Senator James Cowan and so he remains the leader of the opposition in the Senate. The Speaker of the Senate seems basically satisfied with this arrangement.

So can they still call themselves Liberals?

Yes. Officially, the 32 senators will be known as the Senate Liberal Caucus.

Doesn’t the Liberal party constitution define the “caucus” as “those members of the Party who are members of the House of Commons or the Senate of Canada”?

It does. An amendment will have to be made. Here, in that regard, is a letter from the Liberal House leadership to Liberal party president Mike Crawley.

Didn’t the NDP suggest that senators be prevented from sitting in party caucuses?

They did. And they tabled a motion to that effect in the House.

But didn’t the Liberals vote against that motion?

They did. But the Liberal argument then was that it would be unconstitutional for the House of Commons to tell the members of the Senate what to do.

But it was still the NDP’s idea first?

I confess I don’t have the time to review the complete history of Senate reform proposals to determine the precise origins of this one, but here, circa last May, is Greg Sorbara, a former Liberal cabinet minister in Ontario, proposing an independent appointment process and a Senate composed of independents.

I’m generally confused.

Look at it this way: there are now three distinct proposals on Senate reform on offer. The Conservatives would like to see the Senate be an elected chamber (which might require at least some agreement from the provinces to amend the constitution). The New Democrats would like to see the Senate abolished (which would almost surely require some agreement from the provinces to amend the constitution). And the Liberals would like to see the appointments process reformed and the Senate composed of relatively independent senators (which the Liberals seem to think can be done without amending the constitution).

What would the Liberal proposal mean for the future of the Senate?

This requires some speculation.

Here is Emmett Macfarlane’s take (note: he was consulted by the Liberals during the formulation of their plan). The Liberals still have to explain their proposal for a new appointment process. And, of course, it remains to be seen what kind of individuals would be appointed by such a process (if the Liberals form government and if the new appointment process is implemented). Even if the individuals appointed are relatively free of any partisan allegiance, they might still join established parties or groups in the Senate or form new alliances. “It’s useful for the Senate to function that way. There’s a lot of path dependency in there: it’s simply that if you’ve always functioned along partisan lines and you organize yourself along those lines and it simplifies committees and debates and so on, then I expect they’d still be tempted to organize themselves in that way,” says says Philippe Lagasse, a professor at the University of Ottawa. “Now the question becomes if, over the years, you keep naming a successive number of independents, what does it end up looking like? Well, maybe it ends up looking like a little like what the House of Commons looked like in the early decades of Confederation where you had loosely knit factions and we sit that in the British House of Commons and the Lords really as of the 18th century. There tends to be a natural gravitation towards certain types of units, certain types of factions.”

Would such a Senate be more likely to assert itself and obstruct legislation passed by the House? Lagasse argues no: that a chamber which has tended to defer to the democratically elected House would likely continue to do so (and that, if need be, the Prime Minister could use his or her power to appoint more senators to break any gridlock). A future prime minister could also, he notes, scrap whatever appointment process Mr. Trudeau might institute.

Eight years ago, Stephane Dion suggested that an independent appointment process might complicate the prime minister’s accountability for the appointments that he makes (via the Governor General). But it might also be worth noting, in the current context, that Mr. Trudeau’s move was preceded by Stephen Harper’s decision to put the Government Leader in the Senate outside the cabinet.

In the short term, the 32 senators will have to decide how they make decisions and handle votes. As noted above, there is now a line between Justin Trudeau and the senators. But the senators are members of the Liberal party and they’re associating themselves with the Liberal party, a party which has Justin Trudeau as its leader. Will the public assign less responsibility than it might have before to Mr. Trudeau for what those senators say and do? “I don’t speak for the Liberal party,” says Senate opposition leader James Cowan. “I’m a Liberal and I share Liberal values, but I don’t speak for the Liberal party, I don’t intend to speak for the Liberal party and nobody would interpret how I vote or anything I say to represent the Liberal party.”

Mr. Trudeau has, in perception or practice, surrendered some of his power to control those senators—something that might matter more if he becomes prime minister. “They’re still associated with the Liberals, they still call themselves Liberals, but Trudeau has lost the lever to some degree to reign them in on the parliamentary side and it does become an issue when you want to get things through the Senate,” says Lagasse. That might ultimately strengthen the idea that the Senate is an independent institution.

Of his Senate caucus, Mr. Cowan sees both opportunity and challenge. “We don’t have all the answers yet, we probably don’t even know what all the problems are, but there’s an optimism and there really is a willingness to say, all right, we’re going to make the best of this and we’re going to succeed,” he says. “We recognize where we are and we’re going to do our job.”


Bluffer’s guide: What did Justin Trudeau do to the Senate?

  1. Wow:

    “We have 24 senators from Quebec and there are just six from Alberta and six from British Columbia. That’s to our advantage,” Trudeau said in response to the new NDP push to have the scandal-plagued $91.5-million-a-year upper chamber abolished….

    So to divide and conquer, he seeks to maintain the status quo of a Senate, but tries to mask it by changing the window dressing. Oh there will be Liberal senators alright, they just won’t have the Liberal party nametags. All the while his (and Quebec’s) interests, which are apparently are indivisible, will be advanced.
    Oh our boy Justin is so high minded and principled isn’t he?

    • I’m sure the Liberal riding presidents West of Montreal, are just tickled pink right now.

      • So the numbers favour Quebec, he says that’s to “our” advantage, it really means the opposite? Fascinating. Because it’s about “atititudes” we like, all have attitudes, man, like east, west, north, south, so in that way, when he says its good he really means that it is also good for those Western Provinces that have fewer seats/less representation, because, like “attitudes” are transcendent beyond boundaries. Of course, of course. Gee, and here I was relying on the plain and ordinary meaning of his words. Well now we know, that when Justin speaks, he may actually be saying the precise opposite of what his words say. Got it.
        That’ll be just dandy on the world stage when he’s in some high level negotiation with Putin. I’m sure Putin will be as forgiving as the Toronto Star.

        • So what of someone who says “I will not appoint any unelected Senators” and then proceeds to appoint 50+ so far?

          • Yeah but his name was Steve something or other…software upgrade needed for Biff to answer that one without blowing a gasket.

        • Charles, did you actually read the link showing, not the full text, but an easy reading paragraph or 2 of it … Just asking.

          Look, lets take your 1st posting here (a heck of a lot shorter than a full speech), and take out one full sentence, say … “Oh our boy Justin is so high minded and principled isn’t he?”. Would it be fair game for me to present that sentence as indicative of your attitude?

    • so, when Harper tried to bribe Duffy and defended Wallin’s expenses – then finally, when the PMO was under scrutiny, kicked them out of caucus – are you saying that was pointless?

      because all I am hearing are conservatives speaking out of both sides of their mouths

      you better hire a lot more fake commenters, because Canadians see right through Harper’s lies

    • Wow:

      Biff/Charles posted something on this site that is not quite true.

      Will wonders every cease!

    • Don’t they have spam limits around here anymore? They haven’t kicked you off for at least a year or two eh Kody?

  2. We now have an independent Senate.

    Without opening the constitution….or a national fight….or calling in the Supremes…or setting aside urgent matters to navel gaze…’s been de-politicized.

    Now, can we move on?

    • What we have is 32 former Liberal Senators now sitting as Independent Liberal Senators who are joined together to form a Liberal Senate caucus and calling themselves the opposition. Explain how it has been “de-politicized?”

      • It’s remarkable really. I’m fairly certain that if Justin declared that the Sun is now the moon, and that “there is no more Sun”, his followers would say: “look there’s no more Sun, now, can we move on?”

        • Mmmm no,that would be the wind-ups like yourself in the Con party

        • If there were no more sun to surely rise and set, what else could we use to compare the positive reaction of his sycophants to every utterance from Trudeau the Lesser?

          JT really has his hand on the pulse of the electorate – senate reform ranks right up there with the making the criminal law more stoner friendly as vote winners. I hope someone was around to catch EmilyOne as she swooned.

          • Cons seem to have a Mancrush on Justin….they all think he’s good looking, whereas I’ve never heard a Lib say that.

        • What JT did do, is create a legacy not even a year into his leadership with one 5 min presser, and also, and he is not even a PM yet, while your guy, the PM(harper)is still looking for a legacy 8 years on. Take that to the bank !

          • All he has done is insult the intelligence of the canadian people. Do you guys really believe he has accomplished something here.
            This country is doomed if you think this is leadership.
            If he really was serious he would of fired all of them and with no pay, now that would be leadership, followed by mayhem from these so called independent senators.

        • so what you are saying is that after Harper kicked out those crooks he appointed, Brazeau, Wallin and Duffy – it meant nothing?

          just trying to keep all the conservative hypocrisy straight

        • If JT declared the sun is now the moon you’d be trolling under the handle Chris.

        • Well I would check it out with a quick glance anyway. Just to be sure!

      • It will now be politically impossible to appoint partisan Senators. Over a short time no Senators will have an official party.

        • You truly are stupid if you believe that, you can’t possibly be that daft, or can you.

          • LOL another Con foaming at the mouth over Dear Leader crashing

          • I was a liberal until this political stunt he’s trying to pull off, mayby you should try to be non partisan for once in your life, and yes you are!

          • OMG it’s the old ‘I used to be a Lib until…..’ gimmick


            Also, I’m not a Lib/NDP/Con

          • immune my ass you still are replying, lol.
            You are so damm narrow minded that you can look through a keyhole with both eyes.
            Grow up!

          • Sigh. I’m immune to that old gimmick of someone pretending to have ‘been a Lib until….’….heard it many times

            I’m not in the least narrow-minded. I just don’t like libertarian idiots.

            And hon, I was all grown up before you were born.

          • Nice try at deflection, you really are a piece of work.
            You might be dimension wise grown up but you really are a mental midget when it comes to brains. Oh and being sixty plus in age doesn’t make you older than I or wiser.
            You can deny being partisan all you want but all your points from previous post prove otherwise.

          • Ummmm what makes you think I have to answer to you for anything? Sod off.

          • That is the issue, you don’t answer anything ,you just post your vile and think everyone else is full of crap. You really are quite emotional aren’t you, and unlike you i wish you a pleasent evening.

          • It’s a comment board. I post comments.

            If you don’t like them, don’t read them.

      • Because now whether they sit as Liberal senators or not is done at *their* choice, not that of the Liberal party.

        • They have always had a choice on whether they sat in Liberal caucus or not. Hence, the independents that were in the senate before these Independents (that are in fact now the Liberal Senate Caucus). No one forced them to be part of the Liberal Party Caucus. They are devoted Liberals and they want to be Liberals. They believe in the party and its policies and they want to make the party thrive even if it means distancing themselves from the party. Gee sounds a bit like Nigel….

          • No. They only had a choice as to whether they did NOT sit on the LIberal Caucus. As we’ve seen by Trudeau’s actions, the option of sitting on it was controlled by the party. And to gain that, and the funding that came with, it makes sense that they’d be expected to toe the line that the party gave.

            Now they don’t have that. They can choose to vote for the same things if they want, but they’re not putting anything at risk if they don’t. See the difference?

          • I see. So before they risked being kicked out of the Liberal Caucus by JT if they didn’t vote the Liberal Party way or they could chose on their own to go independent. Now…they have been kicked out by JT for no apparent reason at all even though they have advised everyone who will listen that they still plan to vote the Liberal Party way on everything. Hmmm…..huge difference there. If I were a Liberal, I would certainly see what you see.

          • I think that the idea here is less about the consequences of these Senators deciding to “caucus” together when they’re in agreement than it is about the consequences (or lack thereof) of breaking with one’s caucus. I believe that the intention here is to put all Senators on a more even playing field, and break down some of the formal partisan divides. So, when there was an “official” Liberal caucus there were perks that came with being in an official party caucus (research and support staff, extra staff for the official Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, etc…). In other words, Party-controlled perks that could be used to help keep the Senators in line. I think that the idea here is to take away those types of Party control. In other words, if a bunch of Senators want to get together and work on something they agree on, fine. They can even appoint a “whip” to try to keep their informal team in line, and give their caucus a name. I think what Trudeau’s going for here though is to remove the whip’s leverage, such that getting kicked out of caucus no longer has any practical negative effect (i.e. it’s just symbolic) therefore freeing up the “Liberal” Senators to act more independently.

            Now, to make a more serious change to the nature of the Senate, other parties would have to agree to similarly disarm their whips, but it’s an interesting experiment nonetheless imho. It at least has the POTENTIAL to make some changes (perhaps even significant changes) without opening up the constitution. The plans of the other parties may have the advantage of being more comprehensive, or more concrete, but they’re also less realistic from an implementation standpoint, and will entail a long and complicated negotiation (/fight) with the provinces.

      • Such a little thing….yet it’s made an enormous difference.

      • Perhaps these “so called ” reporters should leave their hallowed area and talk to uncommitted voters. I cannot tell the difference between the fawning Martin, Solomen of CBC and the worst one Craig Oliver. I have quit watching their ” opinions” and keep hoping to find a REAL a reporter. It is like saying that Senators are going to be unbiased to find one that just announces the NEWS.

  3. Good summary. Mr. Legasse is bang on, in particular.

  4. Thank you for that write-up, Wherry. Most interesting.

  5. Good summary Aaron. Question to a journalist always on the lookout for the next headline: with such an emphatic line in the sand between Senators and the Liberal Party of Canada, doesn’t that scream for: a) an enforcement example?; and b) all those Liberal Senators being tailed for the next month or two to catch them dancing over this line? Just one of many practical follow-up questions coming out of this dramatic, albeit vague, fiat.

  6. Oh no:

    “A Liberal source told The Hill Times on Wednesday that Mr. Trudeau’s decision to detach the 32 Liberal Senators from the Liberal House caucus had been taken in part because of concern Mr. Ferguson’s audit might be critical of the fact that Senate fund might be subsidizing the political and research activities of MPs in the House of Commons.

    When questioned about the system on Wednesday, following Mr. Trudeau’s announcement, Liberal Senator James Cowan told The Hill Times: “What we’ve done is hired researchers and shared the results of that research with the [Commons] Liberal research bureau, that’s what we’ve done. We haven’t transferred any funds to the House because we can’t do that.””
    Fun legal fact: If it is illegal for A to pay B it is well established that A cannot indirectly pay B by covering B’s expenses or debts. So when that Liberal in the headlights said “because we can’t do that” he also can’t do what he said they did.
    I’m sure Justin’s sudden (albeit shallow) attempt to divorce himself from the Senate had nothing whatsoever to do with this.

    • Did your legal fact come from the Duffy case?

    • Just so I’m clear then, is the implication here that if the Senate’s budget is used for research into topic X, said research must be kept hidden from the House, and if the House wants to gather the same information about X, they need to pay for their own research, and have a second set of researchers go and find all of the information that the Senate researchers already found?

      • I take it you see no difference between “sharing” and not “keeping hidden”.
        If I have some apples and someone’s sitting next to me, I don’t have to “keep it hidden” for them not to eat the apples. If I do nothing, the apples are mine. Sharing means saying “here what I have, would you like some”. That, of course is the most innocuous variety which could apply to strangers. In the case of political blood brothers, beholden to the same hyperpartisan cause, I suspect the “sharing” was a little more overt than the above example, and most likely involved detailed cooperation. We will see in due course, but it would be naïve to think that the parliamentary caucus just happened to stumble upon research done by the Senate which directly benefits them, without any coordination whatsoever.
        Then again, Justin supporters actually believe that lifelong Liberal senators, have suddenly become apolitical independents, so there appears to be no limits to the power of believing in Justin.

        • Fun fact: Information is not apples.

          When someone chooses to research something, they get the benefit of that, whether or not they choose to give it away thereafter. A can’t pay for B’s expenses, but A can certainly pay for A’s expenses, and if the information gained can be used on a wider basis, then there’s no problem with it.

          Now, if you have any evidence that the senate didn’t need the information it researched, that it was in fact doing it solely for the benefit of the party, you might have a point.

          However, I expect you’re pointless.

        • Apples are a bad comparison because unlike a research report, after they’re consumed they can’t be consumed again.

          Again, I’m just not sure what the issue is here with the sharing. Frankly, if taxpayers are paying for this research, then forget about just sharing it with the House, why don’t they just post it online for every Canadian to see? Why keep the research being done with our tax dollars by the Senate secret from the House if all that really means is that if the House wants the same data they’re going to have to pay someone new to collect it again?

    • Spammer.

      Maybe the libs have been naughty, maybe not? But let’s obsess over this when we have a PM that has grossly interfered with a senate investigation, an independent audit and lied for months to the House about what he knew about rumoured pay offs and assorted things that might include okaying an illegal cheque to a sitting senator.

      • So now we are back to they are worse than us and this so called bold move is just a way to make sure that the dirty deeds of the Senate don’t reflect on JT. It really isn’t about meaningful change in corruption at all. Who cares what party the crooks belong to? Let’s get rid of all the crooks!

        • Your words not mine. I did not say it was a move to merely cover up some wrong doing. There may in fact be no wrong doing on the shared budget thing.
          Yours is one solution. Pity it runs into an almost immovable object called the constitution.

  7. Excellent summary Mr. Wherry.

  8. I’d like to see a decent bit of analysis of what happened in the senate after Trudeau sent his letter.[ maybe the answer is in the debate i haven’t time to read now?]
    There are nasty rumours the speaker broke precedent/convention in not granting Trudeau his wish to have all his former senators sit as independents.[ which has created much of this confusion] That seems to be supported by the fact that the PM has gotten his way in suspending the three “rogue” tory senators. In fact i believe Harper may have claimed they are no longer senators since he kicked them out of his caucus. Double standard???
    So, the question is did Trudeau’s team fail to do all their homework Re: senate rules and procedure[ a major screw up no doubt] or is there some dirty work afoot; or quite possibly the Liberal senators themselves screwed up the Trudeau plan?[ i suppose that could conceivably be laid at his door too, since it he chose not to consult his senators before moving on this)

    • “There are nasty rumors the speaker broke precedent..not granting Trudeau his wish to have all his former senators sit as independents…”
      That assertion would be a nasty rumor because the speaker could not force the Senators to give up their association with the Liberal Party. The Senators themselves (with the exception of 3 thus far) have banded together to say something to the effect that we are Senators and we may not be in the Liberal Party Caucus but JT cannot throw us out of the Liberal Party of Canada so therefore we are Liberals and we will call ourselves that. They have gotten a legal opinion stating that JT cannot stop them from doing so.
      I would say your supposition that JT and his inner circle didn’t do their homework and didn’t handle this with very much finesse is accurate. I cannot imagine the blow it was to people like Romeo Dallaire and Grant Mitchell to be treated in this manner. As for the question about Wallin, Duffy and Brazeau, I am not certain if there was any attempt to take away their memberships in the Con Party but you have to have 5 independents sit together to form a “party” of their own in the senate so they could not have done what these Lib Senators are doing.

      • I imagine that Trudeau sought a legal opinion on just what he could and could not do in the senate as well.[at least i hope so]
        Do you have a link to a decent analysis of the speaker’s ruling?

  9. Trudeau at a minimum ‘appears’ to be doing something. Harper and Mulcair have ‘ideas’ and ‘thoughts’ about options that could be considered in the future which for all intents and purposes ‘appears’ to be doing nothing.

  10. He has certainly inherited his father’s big ones, but I am a little concerned that this was done without input from the Party in general. I am still a member of that party, but am beginning to wonder why, now that anyone can vote for the leader or to nominate a candidate.

    • I’m a member, not so much for myself, but rather to show the party that it has my support. It’s $10. I was a Liberal supporter for years before I became a member, should I feel badly about that? Ultimately, I am trying to help the party I relate to most to have a sense of its budget measure its support as it figures out how to win power.

      • I fail to see the benefits of membership. Granted Costco costs more, but it gets you in the store. All I get from the Liberal Party is the opportunity to receive importuning mail at regular intervals. I can get pan-handled for free in the right part of town.

  11. Once again a reason to end the “registered political party,” a mistake of the 1970s introduced to address auditing issues but with many unanticipated consequences, as in empowering party machine and discipline in the House of Commons and Senate, hence:

    ” The rules of the upper chamber define a “recognized party” as “a caucus consisting of at least five Senators who are members of the same political party. The party must have initially been registered under the Canada Elections Act to qualify for this status and have never fallen subsequently below five Senators. “

  12. Progressive Canadian Senate proposal enhances Trudeau initiative.
    Building on Progressive Conservative Senator Elaine McCoy and Progressive Canadian Precedent

    For Immediate Release January 31, 2014

    Newmarket, Ontario – The Hon. Sinclair Stevens, Leader of the Progressive Canadian Party, today congratulated Justin Trudeau on his historic decision to make all Liberal Senators Independents freed from the Liberal Party caucus in the House of Commons.

    Mr. Stevens stated further that the Progressive Canadian Party has proposed to end the exclusive power to appoint Senators by the prime minister since at least 2010, consistent with former Progressive Conservative Guiding Principles and the intentions of PC Policy Priorities. Stevens said the PC Party proposal will take patronage and partisanship out of Senate appointments by seeking the advice and experience of governance found in those appointed to the Queen’s Privy Council and, in so doing, take the power to appoint Senators out of today’s partisan hands of the prime minister alone.

    Mr. Stevens noted further that the Progressive Canadian proposal for Senate Reform for a better appointment system would enhance Justin Trudeau’s bold proposal to release Liberal Senator’s from party caucus discipline by providing the means to recommend appointments to the Governor General with the legitimacy of government experience informed by good will and public interest untainted by partisanship.

    Independent Progressive Conservative Senator Elaine McCoy praised storied journalist Jim Travers’ urging the Prime Minister to “add brilliance to the Red Chambers’s sober second thoughts,” adding the creative suggestion to conceive the ˜Senate as Think Tank” (2007).

    In March 2010, the Tory Senator added, “Yesterday, another voice weighed in on the conversation. [Writer and Progressive Canadian] Brian Marlatt’s thoughtful contribution suggests that the Governor General take advice on appointments from the entire Privy Council, not just the PM. As he says, ‘Charges of patronage and partisanship would be overcome; there would be no risk to national unity, as would happen if senators were accountable to their province; and senators would not be subject to party discipline, as they would be if elected. Senators would not be just more politicians.’ ”

    “By convention, prime ministers have recommended Senate appointments to the Governor General of Canada since Confederation. Prime Ministers in general have respected the need for balance in recommended appointments but the potential for abuse has always been there. Until today, no prime minister has received a ‘pledge’ to pass his party’s legislation from those he in practice appoints”, Mr. Stevens said. “All Senators named by the current prime minister have made such “‘pledges'”, Stevens added, “this is the real Senate Scandal, the Harper Senate Scandal.”

    Proposals to abolish or elect Senators will not end this new partisanship in the Upper Chamber; proposing firewall federalism by directly electing or appointing elected Senators will threaten national unity, Progressive Canadians argue. “We welcome Justin Trudeau’s initiative to limit partisanship but it lacks a means of joining excellence, such as you might find in the Order of Canada, with experience of government, ” Sinclair Stevens said. “The Progressive Canadian proposal brings together excellence and experience.”

    A quorum of the Queen’s Privy Council across party lines and levels of government, comprising former Governors General, present and former prime ministers and cabinet ministers, Supreme Court Chief Justices, inducted Leaders of the opposition and premiers, could fulfill its historic role as an advisory body to the Crown by recommending to the Governor General persons qualified to serve in Canada’s Senate in fulfillment of its duty as a revising chamber of “sober second thought.” “Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien and Paul Martin and their cabinets are members, so am I, and individual distinguished Canadians,” Mr. Stevens stated, “The provinces would be consulted through their premiers invited as Privy Councillors when senators are appointed.”

    “The criticism of Justin Trudeau’s idea would be less and the proposal enhanced by appealing to the excellence and experience in the Queen’s Privy Council. The further virtue, as members of our Progressive Canadian National Council have said, is that Senators will not be accountable to the provinces divisively or to partisan party discipline, not even to voters; their legitimacy as senators comes from their tenure based on excellence and experience to review, revise, and recommend amendment to legislation and regulation without the temptation or power to obstruct an elected government dedicated to good will and the common good of all Canadians. This is practical, doable change, not an impractical utopia.”


    Senator Elaine McCoy, Blog “Hullabaloos” “Senate as Think Tank,” April 30, 2007

    Senator Elaine McCoy, Blog “Hullabaloos” “Same Old, Some New, Ideas on Senate Reform,” March 30, 2010/


    For more information contact:

    “The Hon. Sinclair Stevens, Leader
    The Progressive Canadian Party
    Newmarket, Ontario

  13. The Liberal Party’s senators understand how the people in the citizens feel by not being able to know what is really going on let’s remember they also voted in Justin Trudeau to be there reader let’s not make the same mistakes as they did and say no in 2015 and do not vote just into the wind as prime minister

  14. The Liberals’ excuse for not voting for the NDP motion? Weasel words. Maybe the House of Commons can’t tell the Senate what to do but the parties sure can tell their Senators – look, Trudeau just did it. And, uhm, Aaron, unless Sobara was truly the first to raise the issue, you probably shouldn’t have mentioned him at all … smacks of making excuses for the Liberals …

    For anyone who thought this was a brilliant strategic move, and there were far too many of you, a brilliant or even good strategic move must be sustainable, that is, not just look good today but also for many more tomorrows …

    If the Cons are right and there are a bunch of LIberal Senators about to be slammed in the Auditor’s report (and please, as if everybody on the Hill hasn’t already heard what is in it), then the appearance is this:

    Trudeau pre-emptively kicked all of the Senators out of his caucus on the excuse of high-minded Senate reform only so that he wouldn’t have to kick a good chunk of LIberal miscreant Senators out of his caucus and then defend his own Senate expenses scandal.

    If that is what he did and why he did it, then Trudeau will look like a cheeseball and all those who said it was brilliant will look like fools … I don’t understand the politicos – you really think the ordinary Canadian, cyncial and skeptical of politics is not going to get it?

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