Conservative senator accuses Trudeau of trying to 'destroy' opposition in the Senate

Conservative Senator Denise Batters is accusing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of trying to eliminate opposition in the Senate, in a video posted to YouTube Tuesday.

In apparent breach of Senate rules, Denise Batters films partisan video inside upper chamber

Conservative Senator Denise Batters proposed to remove a provision for mandatory screening for impaired driving when Bill C-46 came before the senate. (Denise Batters/YouTube)
In a video posted to YouTube Tuesday that may violate Senate rules, Conservative Senator Denise Batters accuses Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office of trying to eliminate opposition in the upper chamber.

In her 65-second video, Batters refers to Trudeau's controversial past comments about communist China and Cuba's late dictator, Fidel Castro.

"We know that Prime Minister Trudeau is a fan of communist China's efficiency, and that he called Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, a Trudeau family friend, a 'remarkable leader,'"Batters says.

"Opposition in the Senate might be inconvenient for the Trudeau government, but we have a critical role to play in protecting Canadian democracy: to hold the government accountable and to voice minority and regional views not represented in the majority Liberal government in the House of Commons."

Standing on the opposition side of the Senate chamber and speaking directly into the camera, Batters says she is concerned that Senator Peter Harder, the government's representative in the Senate, wants to do away with an organized official opposition, as she gestures to the empty chairs behind her.

"This is Canada, a free, democratic country. We must not allow the Trudeau government to destroy the opposition in a democratic chamber of Parliament, emptying these opposition benches forever."

Harder's office said he had no comment on the video.

Batters, who was picked by Stephen Harper to represent Saskatchewan in the Senate, is known as a strong defender of her party.

The Conservative opposition in the Senate have viewed Trudeau's appointments of Independent senators with great suspicion.

The Conservatives have sparred with the Independents over membership in Senate committees, which are the prime vehicle for examining legislation.

Cameras rarely allowed in the Senate

Filming in the Senate is strictly controlled by the Speaker, and the red chamber remains off-limits to all cameras while in session. Debates can only be heard on an audio webcast.

When asked about filming a partisan message inside the Senate chamber, Batters said in a statement, "The Senate is a partisan, political institution. I have previously made exactly these same comments during debate and in question period in the Senate chamber.

"I followed the appropriate approval process for senators to use the Senate chamber, and I chose that locale to illustrate the visual of a Senate chamber with no opposition."

Senate Speaker George Furey's office said in a statement, "Senator Batters had requested the use of the Senate chamber for the purposes of recording a video on a different topic. In general, the Senate chamber is not used for the filming of partisan videos when the Senate is not in session."

In response to that statement, a spokeswoman for Batters said that while arranging for the video to be shot in the chamber "no one asked the topic of Senator Batters' video, nor was the information offered."

The Senate is expected to open the red chamber to television cameras when it moves in the coming months to a temporary location to allow for decade-long renovations to Centre Block. The temporary location in Ottawa's former train station is being designed to allow for live broadcasting of the Senate's proceedings.

Senate Opposition Leader Claude Carignan was not available to comment.