PEI

Senate could have larger role with minority Parliament, says senator

Canada's Senate will have a new opportunity to evolve as it deals with a minority government in the House of Commons, says P.E.I. Senator Percy Downe.

'It's going to be interesting what happens to legislation'

'Traditionally political parties could count on their Senate allies to assist them in getting legislation through. That could be more difficult,' says Percy Downe. (CBC)

Canada's Senate will have a new opportunity to evolve as it deals with a minority government in the House of Commons, says P.E.I. Sen. Percy Downe.

Justin Trudeau removed senators from the Liberal caucus in 2014, saying he wanted senators to provide non-partisan input on federal policy. Since he became prime minister in 2015, senators have been named via an arm's-length advisory board.

The Senate has been realigning outside of party lines since that time, forming groups among their own numbers. Downe said there's no way to know at this point how those non-partisan groups will respond to what is coming out of the House of Commons.

"In a minority government, it's going to be interesting what happens to legislation," he said.

"Traditionally political parties could count on their Senate allies to assist them in getting legislation through. That could be more difficult. There could be more amendments, there could be more changes. We'll have to wait and see on that."

Recent weeks have seen some major shifts in Senate groups.

The Liberal group folded and its members launched the Progressive Senate Group. But that group is now defunct because Downe, who originally joined it, left on Monday to become a member of the Canadian Senators Group.

That left the Progressive Senate Group with too few members under Senate rules.

Downe said he felt comfortable with the members of the Canadian Senate Group, which includes fellow P.E.I. Senator Diane Griffin. He said he remains a supporter of the Liberal Party through all the changes.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning

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