Canada's Trudeau boots unelected senators from Liberal caucus
By Randall Palmer
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau, fighting to unseat Canada's Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the 2015 election, expelled all his party's members in the scandal-plagued Senate from the Liberal caucus on Wednesday.
The reputation of Canada's Senate, the unelected upper chamber of its Parliament, is in tatters after controversial expense claims by four senators - three Conservative appointees and one Liberal appointee.
Opponents of Trudeau, son of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, said his motive was to insulate his party from the seething expense scandal. But the Liberal leader said he was moving to fix what he called a broken Senate.
"Paired with patronage, the pervasive issue of partisanship and control in the Senate is a deeply negative force. We need immediate action to address this," Trudeau told reporters in front of the House of Commons, whose members are elected.
Until now, the National Liberal Caucus, which meets to discuss policy and strategy every Wednesday when Parliament is in session, has included Liberal members of both the House and the Senate. The senators will no longer be included, though the senators themselves said they would remain Liberal and "not a lot will change."
Government Auditor General Michael Ferguson is examining all senators' expenses. There is fear in both the Liberal and Conservative parties that more scandals could emerge.
"Mr Trudeau has announced a smokescreen to distance himself from the auditor general's report," said Conservative Pierre Poilievre, a junior minister in charge of democratic reform.
Unlike in the United States, the Canadian Senate tends to operate in the background, producing reports and examining bills. But by convention, it usually rubber-stamps legislation sent from the House of Commons. Continued...