Senate needs an official opposition

MP David Wilks comments on Justin Trudeau's turfing of Liberal senators from caucus

Kootenay-Columbia Member of Parliament David Wilks said Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s decision to remove senators from the Liberal caucus was not something he considered to be well thought out.

“I don’t know if I would have done it that way,” Wilks said. “It’s up to him to do it that way. The problem is that it’s somewhat of an issue in the Senate, because the Senate needs to have an official opposition.”

Wilks said it has resulted in the expelled Liberal senators forming a Liberal independent caucus.

“They are still all card carrying Liberals,” he said. “Some of them are not happy with what Mr. Trudeau did, but there needs to be an opposition in the Senate.”

Wilks said it doesn’t change the dynamic of the Senate.

“Although there will be some Liberals that will stay independents, the majority of them will form an opposition caucus which will be all Liberals,” he said. “Basically all that happened was that they were expelled from the Liberal caucus that also includes the Members of Parliament. In essence they’ll sit separately as caucuses.

“The danger, if I was looking at it from the Liberal perspective, is that a lot of the senators have been around for a long, long time. Some have been there 30-plus years. They have been extremely loyal to the Liberal party and if they are slighted in any way, there is the potential that they may not be as willing to help, say in the 2015 election — you don’t know.”

He said while those senators are probably still Liberals, some of them may not have the ambitions that they did in fundraising in the last election. But he added that the largest issue is that there needs to be an opposition in the Senate, so something has to happen.

Wilks said otherwise parliament has been quiet in the first couple of weeks, other than the debate over closing various Veterans Affairs offices across the country and assimilating them into Service Canada locations.

“Other than that, we’ve just been dealing with some minor things day by day,” he said.