Independent senators want rule changes to prevent partisan stalling on bills

Independent senators want rule changes to prevent partisan stalling on bills

OTTAWA — The largest group of independents in the Senate wants to change procedural rules to limit the ability of Conservatives senators — the last remaining unabashedly partisan caucus in the upper house — from stalling debate and preventing votes on legislation.

Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, leader of the Independent Senators Group, says the group also intends to push for changes to the Parliament of Canada Act to recognize that the Senate is no longer a partisan chamber, where only the government and Opposition caucuses are officially recognized and funded.

He says both measures are needed to reflect the new reality of a Senate that is a less partisan and more independent chamber of sober second thought.

Since becoming prime minister in 2015, Justin Trudeau has dramatically changed the makeup and operation of the upper house, appointing only independents recommended by an arm’s-length advisory body.

Since Trudeau’s re-election last month, the trend towards less partisanship has accelerated, with some Conservatives and other like-minded senators forming the Canadian Senators Group and independent Liberal senators reorganizing themselves as the new Progressive Senate Group.

The Independent Senators Group now has 51 members, the Conservatives 24 and the Canadian Senators Group 13. There are 12 non-affiliated senators, including the eight in the Progressive Senate Group, and five vacancies in the 105-seat chamber.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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