Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Interesting Move

Justin Trudeau has just kicked all of the Liberal Senators out of the Liberal Caucus.

I heard this just as I was rolling out of bed this morning, and my initial reaction was that effectively Trudeau had just taken the wind out of the sails of the Conservatives who routinely point to the Liberal Senators and cry "But, but, the Libruls" when they start finding themselves held to the flames of accountability.

I'm fairly certain that making it difficult for the Conservatives to try and deflect responsibility by pointing to the Liberals is part of Trudeau's political calculations in making the move.

There is another, much more interesting implication to this.  Trudeau has taken the first step to returning the Senate to being independent of the partisan maneuvering that is central to the House of Commons.  By cutting the Liberal Senators loose, he has made it much easier for them to evaluate and vote on legislation from the House of Commons independently of the partisan origins of it.

In general, I'm not a fan of "Senate Reform by convention" approaches, as they are easily undermined.  However, in this case, Trudeau is doing something which will enable the Senators to be much more effective than is currently possible.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Brilliant move on JT's part as it effectively isolates Harper who had planned to leave JT holding the bag on Senate reform in 2015. The NDP has long argued to abolish the Senate.

So much for all those pundits telling us what a brilliant chessmaster Harper is, plotting his moves ahead to checkmate his opponents. In fact, it is hard not to see that JT has effectively checkmated Harper on the Senate issue and made him wear the anger of the public in regard to Senate patronage and corruption. Harper's only possible route is to argue for abolition of the Senate but his hands are going to be tied if, as expected, the Supreme Court finds that he cannot proceed unilaterally without provincial support.

Interesting to see some in the Liberal establishment (just read the Progressive Bloggers) already criticizing JT for this move. One would assume that these people want the status quo, or at the least, to reward people for their loyalties to their political masters/parties rather than making decisions for the public good, which is what hopefully an independent Senate would bring about if it acts as its intended chamber of sober, second thoughts.

Sure, an independent Senate could cause some gridlock as it flexes its muscles, however, the alternative is what we have now: a Senate that is nothing better than a rubber stamp for the governing party the large majority of the time.

And the status quo is unacceptable.