Our View: Senate purge not a bad idea


Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau launched an attack Wednesday on the only target in the Senate he could hit – his own party.

Trudeau has disbanded the Liberal caucus within the Red Chamber. There are no more Liberal senators, he said. No longer will the Liberal party have a place in the unelected portion of Canada’s government.

Trudeau has done this, he says, as a sort of practical step towards Senate reform. He’s challenging PM Stephen Harper to do the same, freeing the Conservative senators from their party bonds.

Symbolically, it’s a big move. But practically, it’s hard to say whether it will make any difference in the short term. It’s hard to imagine all those now-independent ex-Liberal senators will suddenly feel emboldened to strike out on their own – they already had the ultimate in job security.

It also comes after the Liberals had already lost two senators, Mac Harb to the ongoing expenses scandals that has also engulfed three Tory senators, and Colin Kenny, who left the Liberal caucus after being accused of sexual harassment.

Cutting loose some senators – not exactly the most respected politicians in Canada – may be a good move politically for Trudeau. He’s currently leading a third party in the House of Commons, and even with rising polls, he’s facing a tough Tory machine that has withstood a lot of attacks in recent years, and an NDP that showed its muscle in the last federal election. 

Frankly, the best thing about Trudeau’s decision is that it keeps the existence of the Senate on the political agenda. The Senate is undemocratic, a patronage plum, and generally a waste of space. The NDP says it should be abolished. The Liberals say it should be reformed. 

Trudeau has thrown down the gauntlet to the Conservatives. We’ll see what their answer is in the weeks to come. 

– M.C.

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