George Baker on Justin Trudeau’s Senate move: 'Proper thing'
Longest-serving senator says Canadians support depoliticizing Senate
Senator George Baker is applauding Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's surprise move to kick senators out of the party's caucus, in a bid to reform the upper chamber of Parliament.
"Proper thing," said Baker, who supports Trudeau's decision even though he acknowledges it is causing considerable upheaval on Parliament Hill, and in Liberal circles.
"Justin Trudeau came in [to a caucus meeting] all by himself, nobody with him, and he said, 'This is a statement I'm about to make. I'm going to be removing all Liberal senators from the Liberal caucus,' " said Baker, who was appointed to the Senate in 2002 after serving as a Liberal MP for the preceding 28 years.
"Then he read out the entire statement, and there was absolute, well, silence, first, and then shock."
Baker, though, said he has long supported cutting political ties within the Senate.
'Even worse than it is already'
Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre blasted Trudeau for creating "a smokescreen" that will make the Senate less accountable.
"The only change is that they wouldn't attend one meeting a week," Poilievre said in Ottawa. "It will make the Senate even worse than it already is, if you can imagine such a thing."
But Baker said the move is in line with reforms that Canadians want to see in the Senate.
"It's sent everybody into a quandary as to what happens next, but it will be seen as a response to the Canadian demand," said Baker.
He noted that the decision extinguishes any control that Trudeau himself might have over senators, particularly since the party leader now has the right to make key appointments, including the whip and Senate house leader.
"These are political appointments, no longer enforced. They're gone out the window, as they should be," Baker said.