Senators Diane Bellemare, Michel Rivard quit Conservative caucus
Two Quebec senators will sit as independents
Two Quebec senators are leaving the Conservative caucus — one with the hope of reforming the upper chamber, the other because he was sidelined during the election campaign.
Diane Bellemare and Michel Rivard will join the 11 other independent senators.
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Rivard told the CBC he was leaving the Tory caucus because he was pushed aside during the fall election campaign, even though the party was struggling in Quebec.
1/ Senator Michel Rivard tells me in French he quit the Conservative caucus because he was shut out of the election campaign. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnpoli?src=hash">#cdnpoli</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/hw?src=hash">#hw</a>—@susanamas
3/ Michel Rivard says he wasn't the only Senator from Quebec to be shut out of the Conservative election campaign. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cdnpoli?src=hash">#cdnpoli</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/hw?src=hash">#hw</a>—@susanamas
As for Bellemare, she said her decision to leave the Conservative caucus was motivated by a desire to restore the Senate's political relevance.
"Personally, I feel that I will be able to fulfil my 'second reflection' role and represent the best interests of my province by serving as an independent senator," Bellemare said in a statement.
Bellemare is hoping to organize the other independent senators to give them more of a voice in the Senate.
If she was able to convince 12 senators to go along with her plan, Rivard said they could qualify for research resources.
Another former Conservative senator from Quebec who now sits as an independent, Jacques Demers, welcomed Bellemare's proposal. The move could help independent senators sit on committees, Demers said.
Along with 13 independent senators, there are 26 Liberal senators who no longer caucus with the party.
Rivard will only sit as an independent for three months, before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75. He was appointed in 2008.
Bellemare was appointed by the Tories in 2012.