Conservatives won’t abuse Senate majority to thwart Liberal agenda, Carignan says

Conservative senators don't plan to be an ideological roadblock to the Liberal government's legislative agenda.

OTTAWA — Conservative senators don’t plan to be an ideological roadblock to the Liberal government’s legislative agenda.

Sen. Claude Carignan, the Conservative leader in the upper chamber, says his senators will look for ways to improve legislation coming from the House of Commons and won’t abuse their majority status in the upper chamber to thwart Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s program.

The Conservatives hold 47 seats in the Senate, making them the largest caucus in the 105-seat chamber. Some longtime Conservatives, who remember what it was like when Stephen Harper first formed government in 2006 and faced a Liberal-dominated Senate, have suggested they won’t make Trudeau’s life easy.

Carignan said that wasn’t the intention of the Conservative senators following a meeting earlier this month where they elected him leader and chose the rest of their leadership after returning to the opposition benches for the first time in almost a decade.

“We don’t want to obstruct and (be) an ideological opposition,” he said.

“We don’t want to play this game. We will play our role to improve, to study and we will not abuse the situation.”

Trudeau severed formal parliamentary ties to the Senate last year, when he dropped all senators from the Liberal national caucus.

Those senators remained Liberal party members and talked of helping local candidates in the federal election campaign.

The decision has meant that the Liberals, now in government, have no formal representative in the upper chamber. The Liberals have not said whether Trudeau will anoint a sitting senator to the job, appoint someone to one of the 22 vacant seats, or simply leave the situation as it is.

House leader Dominic LeBlanc, the Liberal point man on dealing with the Senate, has repeatedly said the government wants to work with the Senate in a more non-partisan way. Ministers, he told reporters last week, will still have to appear before Senate committees to explain and defend legislation and work with senators who propose amendments “to improve legislation.”

Carignan said that message is playing well with his Senate colleagues.

The Conservatives have now taken over the role of Senate opposition and will continue to be in that position even if the upper chamber is without a government leader to answer questions on government operations and usher through Liberal legislation.

Carignan says the Conservatives could live with a scenario where the Senate has no government leader.

He says the lack of a leader could help proposed internal reforms to make the daily question period in the Senate more relevant.

Question period in the Senate has been criticized for yielding more talking points than answers. Senators have mused about doing away with it and instead using the time to ask committee chairpersons about details of their committee work, or have ministers come to the floor of the Senate chamber and answer questions on an issue in their file.

Carignan said the lack of a government leader in the Senate could open the door to a “new opportunity” for the Senate.

“In time we will adjust our work in the Senate,” Carignan said. “We could live with both situations — if he decided to appoint or not. If he decides to appoint, it will be a more traditional process.”

Just Posted

Fog advisory issued for Red Deer area

Fog to persist through Tuesday morning

Motown Soul is coming to Red Deer

April 4 at Red Deer Memorial Centre

Police seeking public help in locating missing 35-year-old woman

RCMP wants to verify the well-being of Elizabeth Sallenback

Canadian peacekeepers evacuated injured French counter-terror troops in Mali

OTTAWA — Canadian peacekeepers were called upon to evacuate several wounded French… Continue reading

Bianca Andreescu’s win streak ends after early exit because of injury

MIAMI — The injury bug has derailed Bianca Andreescu’s impressive run. The… Continue reading

CONCACAF teams to learn Nations League draw on Wednesday in Las Vegas

Canada will learn its next CONCACAF Nations League opponents at Wednesday’s draw… Continue reading

Alanis Morissette announces pregnancy in Instagram photo

Alanis Morissette is pregnant with her third child. The Grammy-winning singer posted… Continue reading

“MLB The Show 19” allows video gamers a chance to relive baseball history

TORONTO — From Babe Ruth’s debut as a pitcher to Jose Bautista’s… Continue reading

Canada Revenue Agency tax services back online after ‘hardware’ problems

OTTAWA — The websites Canadians use to file their taxes online were… Continue reading

Roof structures failed before Radiohead stage came down, inquest hears

TORONTO — Metal structures meant to hold a roof over a stage… Continue reading

Opinion: Business tax relief is a sound idea

NDP leader should avoid picking winners and losers

Svechnikov scores in overtime, Carolina beats Montreal 2-1

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes struggled to beat Montreal goaltender Carey… Continue reading

Most Read