PEI

P.E.I.'s Diane Griffin named to Canadian Senators Group

P.E.I. Sen. Diane Griffin is joining the new Canadian Senators Group as one of its founding members.

'Being in a smaller group makes it much easier in terms of bringing forward our issues'

'Prince Edward Island is the small kid in the family and like most small kids in the family we struggle to be heard,' says P.E.I. Sen. Diane Griffin. (Krystalle Ramlakhan/CBC)

P.E.I. Sen. Diane Griffin is joining the new Canadian Senators Group as one of its founding members.

The 11 members of the new group hope to make sure regional interests are represented in Parliament — and proposed bills are thoroughly reviewed.

The founding members include:

  • Larry Campbell of British Columbia. 
  • Doug Black, Scott Tannas and Elaine McCoy, of Alberta. 
  • Robert Black and Vernon White of Ontario.
  • Stephen Greene of Nova Scotia.
  • David Richards of New Brunswick. 
  • Josée Verner of Quebec. 
  • Pamela Wallin of Saskatchewan.

Griffin said the CSG isn't looking to take over the Red Chamber. Rather, she said the group wants to become more research-oriented in their approach to decisions on legislation and to treat each region equally.

She felt compelled to join the group to give P.E.I. a bigger voice. 

'The main mandate is to be centrist, in other words we're not going to be a group that's very far left or very far right. We're very in the middle of the road,' says Griffin. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

"Prince Edward Island is the small kid in the family and like most small kids in the family we struggle to be heard," she said.

The new group will be capped at 25 members.

Small and centrist

"Being in a smaller group makes it much easier in terms of bringing forward our issues and having them debated and discussed within the group meetings. It's really hard to do that in a large group of 60 people," Griffin said. 

The members of the new Canadian Senators Group will also be free to take positions and vote on legislation independently, she said. Votes will not be whipped. 

It's not good, no matter how pure your motives are, for any one group to be in a position where it alone can dominate the agenda.​​​​— Sen. Diane Griffin

In gathering members to join the group, it was important to find people who were considered "centrist in the political spectrum."

"The main mandate is to be centrist, in other words we're not going to be a group that's very far left or very far right. We're very in the middle of the road," Griffin said.

Having several groups within the Senate is extremely important, she said.

"It's not good, no matter how pure your motives are, for any one group to be in a position where it alone can dominate the agenda."  

The group will play an essential role after January 2020, she said, as the Liberal caucus in the Senate will drop below the required nine members. 

"It will no longer be a caucus and that's more or less been a centrist group in the Senate," she said. "So in a way we're picking up the mantle, we're picking up the base of the house and running with it." 

More P.E.I. news

With files from Angela Walker

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