In a move that came out of seemingly nowhere, Liberal party leader Justin Trudeau has pledged to remove all of his parties senators from the party caucus, and force them to sit as independents. Trudeau’s explanation for the bold proposal, being that the senate is broken, and this is as far as his party can go (its its current position) to attempt to fix the problem.
“These proposals, while bold and concrete, are not the final word. They represent our judgment of how far we can go without guidance from the Supreme Court,” he said.
“If the Supreme Court says more can be done, we are open to doing more.”
This move came as a surprise to all the parties, including his own party members, as he made the media announcement before he even told his own party. He gave further explanation during a news conference just after breaking the news to his party and senators:
“The Senate is broken and needs to be fixed,” he said.
“The Senate was once referred to as a place of sober, second thought. A place that allows for reflective deliberation on legislation, in-depth studies into issues of import to the country, and, to a certain extent, provide a check and balance on the politically-driven House of Commons.
“It has become obvious that the party structure within the Senate interferes with these responsibilities.”
Trudeau made a proposition that the senate become more non-partisan , in order to better serve the interests of Canadians. He sees the prime ministers ability to appoint senators, as a big part of the problem.
“Instead of being separate from political, or electoral concerns, Senators now must consider not just what’s best for their country, or their regions, but what’s best for their party,” Trudeau said.
“At best, this renders the Senate redundant. At worst — and under Mr Harper we have seen it at its worst — it amplifies the prime minister’s power.”
“We are all poorly served by the way in which senators are appointed. Canadians especially, yes, but also members of the House of Commons, even senators themselves are discredited by the antiquated convention that sees senators appointed by one person, and one person only,” he said.
Trudeau also suggested that Prime Minister Harper has abused the system, by appointing 59 different senators during his tenure in the prime ministers office.
“All of these people share one characteristic,” he said. “The prime minister, and the prime minister alone, judged them to be useful to himself, and to his party. Mike Duffy, Pam Wallin, Patrick Brazeau, Irving Gerstein are particularly egregious examples of where that leads.”
Scandals surrounding the senate have been making news since early last year, when the investigation started getting public attention. While the investigation into the affected senators (Duffy, Wallin, Brazeau and Gerstein) begun back between November 21st and December 6th 2012, it only “blew up” in November 2013 after senators Duffy, Wallin and Brazeau were suspended. The affair got much media attention, after being (seemingly) traced all the way up to the prime ministers office, despite its previous claims of ignorance to the affair.
The scandal even crosses the aisle, involving Liberal Senator Mike Harb. He was ordered by the senate investigation committee to repay $230,000 in ineligible expenses, and retired shortly after.
Some speculate the move to distance the Liberal Party from the senate might be a way of distancing the party from future scandals involving its caucus members. However, Trudeau denies such an agenda.
While the motivation for this bold move remains unclear, its certainly a good way to bring attention to senate reform. And it is sure to make the Liberals a good contender for the up and coming 2015 federal election.
The above is written in bold and italic (to easier separate the quotes) , in order to keep it separate from this part of the piece. Some have suggested that journalism might be an optimal career path for me, so I decided to take a stab at writing an article, from as unbiased a viewpoint as possible.
The above (whether good, bad, or somewhere in the middle), is the result of my very first “article”.
My sources for the article are both the link attached to this piece and the senate scandal Wikipedia page.
I understand that some will raise an eyebrow on the sourcing of a Wikipedia article on this topic. I understand your criticism.
However, I had learned a great amount about the senate scandal from a legitamite national TV news source (the 11pm CTV national news) late last year, when the whole affair was making many headlines. Since one can not source a television broadcast from the past, I had to find one online.
I knew the information. I just needed a place to back it up.