P.E.I. senators approve of Trudeau decision to change caucus

Ryan Ross
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James Cowan, flanked by other newly declared Independent Senators, including P.E.I. senators Catherine Callbeck and Libby Hubley, speaks to reporters on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday. The senators were reacting to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's announcement to remove senators from the caucus.

They might not be part of the parliamentary caucus any more, but P.E.I.'s Liberal senators don't think that's a bad thing.

On Wednesday morning, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced he was removing all 32 Liberal senators from the parliamentary caucus.

But all three of the Island's Liberal senators say they will still be part of the senate Liberal caucus, which will be independent of the parliamentary caucus.

Senator Catherine Callbeck said the move came as a surprise to her, but she is still a Liberal and will continue working as she always has until she retires in July.

"I'm very comfortable with it," she said.

Trudeau made the announcement during the regular Wednesday caucus meeting, which up until the change included MPs and senators.

He later told the media it was a step toward reducing partisanship in the senate and if elected prime minister he plans to go further by appointing senators through an open process with public input.

Callbeck called it a courageous move for Trudeau who she said is going back to the idea the Fathers of Confederation had for an independent house of sober second thought.

"I think there's no question it's a very historic moment," she said.

She also agreed with the concept of an open and transparent process for appointing senators.

"I think that would be a good idea," she said.

Callbeck said there should still be a senate Liberal caucus because they still represent the party's values.

"We are Liberals and we will continue to have senate Liberal caucuses the same as we have been doing."

Senator Percy Downe agreed Trudeau's decision was a move to return the senate to a less partisan institution and said it was a step back to representing the different regions of the country.

"I think it's a good move," he said.

Downe said he has always taken the view that he wasn't in the senate to represent the Liberal party, but rather P.E.I., although he did share Liberal values when reviewing legislation.

"That's what I was doing and that's what I'll continue to do," he said.

For Senator Libby Hubley, she said the decision came as a surprise but she called it a liberating move.

"It's certainly something that I feel the Canadian people have spoken fairly forcefully on, the fact that they would like to see some change within the senate and I give Mr. Trudeau full compliments for taking that first step," she said.

Hubley said she didn't think a Liberal party leader ever pressured the senators on any issues, but now the Liberal senators will be their own independent thinkers.

"I think there's some benefit from that."

Despite the change, Hubley said the senate Liberal caucus re-affirmed its leadership will remain intact, including her position as deputy party whip.

She also said the situation will be evolving from day-to-day and the caucus is in the process of establishing committees to look at how the change will impact their offices.

"It will come," she said.

 

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

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Recent comments

  • marilee kosik
    February 02, 2014 - 12:36

    Finally!!! Senate was meant to be a non partisan group of wise people who voted according to the AREAS they represented....not by party rules. Trudeau just won a vote...without shaking a hand, just by showing some sense.

  • Fed up
    January 30, 2014 - 13:25

    Some of you never like to hear the truth....Liberals vote Liberal, no matter what is done to them. You never print when we say that? Biased?

  • Fed up
    January 30, 2014 - 13:22

    Some of you never like to hear the truth....Liberals vote Liberal, no matter what is done to them. You never print when we say that? Biased?

  • Lloyd
    January 30, 2014 - 12:55

    And I would like to see these four back away from the trough they have been eating at for too many years.

  • Frank
    January 30, 2014 - 12:02

    They all like Trudeau's decision! Don't they like him as their leader.

  • Observer
    January 30, 2014 - 11:12

    It's good to see all of the Tory hacks out in full force this morning. Face it, the Senate was always meant to be independent, not bi-partisan. This is a first step in the process to make that happen. My hope is that it will continue. Good start JT

  • Fed up
    January 30, 2014 - 10:09

    Most useless announcement EVER!! HE still appoints the Liberal friends...so how does Trudeau think this is better? Does he think we are stupid?!? Of course the Liberal Senators agree. Liberals are like that. Agree with the leader no matter WHAT they do to them!

  • Angus
    January 30, 2014 - 09:31

    Somebody get some inside info on the Auditor General's Senate investigation?

  • Karen
    January 30, 2014 - 09:02

    You can call a turd a rose, but it still stinks.

  • Maybe
    January 30, 2014 - 08:46

    Maybe Trudeau will now cut loose his mps - to be independent mps - so they won't be dependent on JT as leader. Then they can make their own decisions instead of listening to him. I think the Liberals are screwing themselves provincially as well as federally. Things happen in 3s - Dion, Iggy, Justin. fail

  • Silly deception from Trudeau
    January 30, 2014 - 01:51

    So the Liberal Senators were completely unaccountable except through Justin Trudeau, caucus leader and an elected MP. Now... the "Senate Liberals" (groundbreaking change... like switching from Times New Roman to Verdana)... are completely unaccountable to anyone at all. This is the opposite direction for democratic reform. Obviously, Trudeau got word that Mac Harb wasn't the only bad apple in the Liberal caucus and he's trying to avoid taking responsibility for his own party. This will go down as one of the biggest fumbles in modern political history since Stephane Dion tried to overturn the '08 election.

  • Trudeau is a joke
    January 30, 2014 - 01:41

    This is shocking! I can't believe they're all okay with Trudeau changing their name from Liberal Senators to Senate Liberals!! This is the most groundbreaking change since I filled out a form that asked for my surname comma first name.

  • david
    January 30, 2014 - 00:48

    The question is why did Trudeau suddenly cut them loose? I have to wonder just what does he know that we don't about this report that is coming. How many Liberal Senators have been scamming the taxpayers and Trudeau wants to get some distance form them before it becomes public. It is good move for Trudeau and the Liberal Party to distance themselves far away from these crooks.

  • SLIPPY
    January 29, 2014 - 21:40

    Now that they are "independent" they are free to not agree if they want, wink wink.

  • guardianreader
    January 29, 2014 - 20:42

    MS Callbeck most give your head a shake if had a been and elected senate you would not be there. 2. and if it was elected you would a quit by now

  • Billy
    January 29, 2014 - 20:04

    As independents, I don't think they are entitled to all the perks. That is why they are still calling themselves liberals. So what does all this change in the senate.? Nothing!

  • don
    January 29, 2014 - 19:48

    well they have very little choice but agree with him don't they. if they do not they will be out period. but what has he hiding?

  • True Patriot Love
    January 29, 2014 - 18:26

    So this is supposed to magically make all liberal senators neutral? When a Hockey team changes names, it really has little to no effect on the actual fabric of its players.

  • redleg
    January 29, 2014 - 15:51

    Is Trudeau getting ride of these now independent Senators fearing the result of the investigation into the financial details of their expenses wouldn't be pretty. Mr.Trudeau is distanced the Liberal Party from this group. Good move.

  • yolanda
    January 29, 2014 - 14:45

    Imagine, they all approve, what is the world coming to - not one of them have a mind of their own, surprise, surprise.