Watch: Independent Senator Anne Cools discuses Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s decision to kick 32 senators from his caucus.
The longest-sitting senator, known for her soliloquies in the upper chamber, summed up the Liberal leader’s surprising move in just a few words: “It’s not wise.”
Justin Trudeau’s announcement Wednesday that he had booted all Liberal senators from his caucus was “too sudden and a little too unprecedented,” said Anne Cools, an Independent senator appointed on the advice of Trudeau’s father in 1984.
“These … are human beings and they do have some feelings and deserve some kind of respect,” Cools said within hours of Trudeau’s announcement. “They are individuals who have paid some sort of service to their party, to their country and to their Queen.”
Cools today sits as an independent, following a brief stint with the Conservatives. She crossed the floor to the Conservatives in 2005 after criticizing the Liberal stance on same-sex marriage. Just two years later, after speaking out against Prime Minister Stephen Harper, she was kicked out of the Conservative caucus.
As for Trudeau’s decision to kick 32 men and women out of his caucus, Cools said it will reflect poorly on him—and have potentially dire consequences.
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“This is unheard of. It’s not wise. We do not know what’s going to happen,” she said. “All I can say is, it’s not good for the system, it’s not good for Parliament and it’s not good for the senators, and it’s not good for any of the leaders either. It does not look good when leaders appear to not be faithful to their followers.”
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While Cools offered her opinion Wednesday morning, those who the Liberal leader swept from his caucus met behind closed doors in a basement room on Parliament Hill.
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When they emerged later that morning, most seemed content with Trudeau’s decision, saying they see it as an attempt to make the Senate less partisan. James Cowan, who had been the party’s leader in the Senate, said he would continue to support the Liberal leader and would lead the group of independents referring to themselves the Senate Liberal caucus.
Although her colleagues had mostly good words about the move, Cools remained unimpressed, standing to speak in the Senate later in the day.
Why, she asked, were Cowan and the others so quick to act? Why make hasty decisions when entering uncharted waters?