Senate Defections Could Solidify Trudeau's Upper House Reforms

In the last elections, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer had promised that if elected, he'd return to the old system of senatorial appointments which focuses on putting party members on the Red Chamber's benches, this promise was nullified by his defeat on Oct. 21.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the other hand, after he won the Oct. 21elections, kept his promise to only appoint Independent senators who do not formally support the Liberal Party of Canada, a promise that led to having a rapidly increasing Independent Senators Group (ISG) caucus in the Red Chamber.

An announcement was made recently, revealing that eleven senators were breaking away from their respective groups to create a new entity called, Canadian Senators Group (CSG); this development is expected to quicken the end of aclearly partisan upper house.

Trudeau’s reforms have fundamentally transformed a grouponce strictly organized along party lines. According to CBC, thanks to these reforms, and the formation of the new Canadian Senators Group, conservatives who weren’t really conservatives, to begin with, can shed party loyalties and work to advance an ideological agenda that is different from that of the governing Liberals.

And conservative-minded senators, who have defected into the CSG, can now sit in a group with like-minded people that aredetached from the national Conservative Party caucus led by Scheer. One no longer has to be a card-carrying Conservative to progress conservative ideas in the upper house.

"For me, clearly, we are at some kind of a tipping point and I think this is an exciting opportunity for the Senate to kind of, to reposition itself while doing the job that the founding fathers set out for it. I very much want to be a part of that," Sen. Scott Tannas, the interim leader of the Canadian Senators Group, quoted on CBC.

Tannas said that rather than focus on partisan ideologies, group members can focus better at just representing their regions

"We're sent there to represent a region. We're sent there to make sure that all regions of the country are treated fairly at all times. We're the final gate for that and that's why many of us felt that we needed a new group that would allow us to focus on good research, robust debate, keeping it clear in our minds what the role of a senator is without extraneous noise," he said.

P.E.I. Sen. Diane Griffin, an Independent appointed by Trudeau, quoted on CBC, said she is leaving the ISG now for the CSG because she wants to be part of a smaller group of senators.

"This is not a case of me being a frustrated senator running away from a group. Far from it, I see this as an opportunity to form a new group in the Senate. The ISG is a very large group, which can be counter-productive in terms of being nimble," Griffin said.

A Conservative Senate source, commended the new CSG senators for their boldness," CSG members have the courage to identify as right-leaning, the source said.

"These senators appear to have given up on staying with the ISG — where they were promised only an illusion of 'non-partisanship and independence.'"


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