Friday , December 3 2021

Trudeau to make it more difficult for future PM to reverse the senate forms


Justin Trudeau says his government hopes to make legal changes that will cement its transformation of the Senate into a more independent, non-partisan Chamber, making it more difficult for a future prime minister to turn the clock back.

The state minister says his government will change the Parliament in the Canada Act – the Act which spells out the powers and privileges of parliamentarians and senators – to better reflect the new reality in the upper house, where most senators now stand independent, regardless of any political party.

"We will try to make it fair," said Trudeau in a tour of the interview at the turn of the year with the Ottawa Agency in The Canadian Press. "We'll try to do it before the election."

Making it happen before next fall's election is critically important for independent senators who fear Trudeau's reforms can easily turn around if the Liberals would not win re-election.

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has said that if he becomes prime minister, he would return to the previous practice of making open party party appointments, and name only conservatives to the upper house.

Trudeau kicked senators from the liberal kaucus in 2014. Since joining 2015, he named only senators recommended by an arm's advisory body in an attempt to return the Senate to his intended role as an independent chamber of sobriety second thought.

Of the 105 senators, 54 are now independent who have tied together for greater influence in the independent senator's group. Another 31 is conservative, 10 are liberal independent and 10 are unbound. The conservatives are the only remaining open party group in the House.

Nevertheless, the Parliament of the Canada Act acknowledges only two party caucuses in the Senate: the caucus government and the opposition caucus, both entitled to research funds, dedicated debate debates, membership in committees and a role in the day-to-day decision on senatorial activities, such as when you have to postpone the debate.

Independent in the Red Chamber

Senators have agreed to fly to some accommodation by the growing independent groups, giving them some research funds and committee roles. But the ISG leadership has argued that their role must be explicitly spelled out and guaranteed in Canada's law. And because the change would involve the allocation of financial resources, they say it can not be initiated by the Senate, only by the Government of the House of Commons.

Later, Raymonde Saint-Germain, Deputy Leader of the ISG, said that the amendment to the act is the only way to give a permanent vote to independent Senators and to "secure this necessary reform for an independent and non-Partyist Senate."

"The reform as Prime Minister Trudeau very courageously announced and implemented … must be completed," she said in an interview. "It will not come from the Senate. The only way to complete it, to make it clear, is to change Parliament in the Canada Act."

Raymonde Saint-Germain, center, stands with senators Raymonde Gagne, left and Peter Harder before they swore into the senate on December 1. She says that the only way to ensure senators can be independent of party discipline is to change action. (Justin Tang / Canadian Press)

Trudeau said he was pleased with how the reformed senate worked, although independent senators are now more likely to change government bills, which has worsened the legislative process and sometimes caused fears – unrealized so far – that the Senate could defeat legislation directly.

"Canadians have been able to see the benefits and the thoughtful changes and dedication they have had with bills in a way that I think has been very positive. I think that removing partisan membership significantly from the Senate has been good for our democracy, good for institutions" , he said.

As for Scheer, Trudeau said, "If he really wants to go back to the kind of partisanship and patronage that we could do away with, yes, that's something he'll have to explain."

New senators with liberal bands

Just this week, Trudeau appointed two new senators with strong liberal relations: A former liberal premiere of Yukon, Pat Duncan and Nordic Scandinavian health expert Stanley Kutcher, who ran for liberals in 2011 elections and lost.

"I do not think membership in any political party should ban them from being thoughtful independent senators who are not accountable to me but respond to the values ​​they have," Trudeau said, adding, "I have certainly also appointed persons who have donated to the NDP or donated to the conservative party. "

Conservatives have repeatedly questioned how non-partisan the independent senators really are and notes that most seem to share Trudeau's values ​​- a charge Trudeau did not deny.

"I will not choose people who are completely offline with where I think my values ​​or many Canadian values ​​are," he said. "A future prime minister for another political boundary will certainly be able to designate people … who may have a slightly different ideological curve. I think it will happen naturally in our system."

Nevertheless, he said that the institution is better for the fact that most senators are not responsible for the prime minister and do not sit in the party's causal "to plot political strategy".

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