“Warren Kinsella's book, ‘Fight the Right: A Manual for Surviving the Coming Conservative Apocalypse,’ is of vital importance for American conservatives and other right-leaning individuals to read, learn and understand.”

- The Washington Times

“One of the best books of the year.”

- The Hill Times

“Justin Trudeau’s speech followed Mr. Kinsella’s playbook on beating conservatives chapter and verse...[He followed] the central theme of the Kinsella narrative: “Take back values. That’s what progressives need to do.”

- National Post

“[Kinsella] is a master when it comes to spinning and political planning...”

- George Stroumboulopoulos, CBC TV

“Kinsella pulls no punches in Fight The Right...Fight the Right accomplishes what it sets out to do – provide readers with a glimpse into the kinds of strategies that have made Conservatives successful and lay out a credible roadmap for progressive forces to regain power.”

- Elizabeth Thompson, iPolitics

“[Kinsella] deserves credit for writing this book, period... he is absolutely on the money...[Fight The Right] is well worth picking up.”

- Huffington Post

“Run, don't walk, to get this amazing book.”

- Mike Duncan, Classical 96 radio

“Fight the Right is very interesting and - for conservatives - very provocative.”

- Former Ontario Conservative leader John Tory

“His new book is great! All of his books are great!”

- Tommy Schnurmacher, CJAD

“I absolutely recommend this book.”

- Paul Wells, Maclean’s

“Kinsella puts the Left on the right track with new book!”

- Calgary Herald

In Sunday’s Sun: ten reasons why Trudeau’s Senate move is a bad one

How dumb is Justin Trudeau’s Senate stunt? Let us count the ways.

There are ten.

One: it won’t really fool anyone. To great fanfare, the Liberal leader announced Wednesday morning “there are no more Liberal Senators.” A couple hours later, 32 Senators emerged from a meeting to declare that (a) they are still Senators and (b) they are still Liberals. Recalling the musician Prince, the legislators formerly known as “Liberal Senators” would heretofore be known as “Senate Liberals.” Seem like a big change to you? Us neither.

Two: it doesn’t really address the key problem – they’re still unelected. In fact, Trudeau’s Red Chamber caper arguably makes the problem worse: under his plan, unelected Senators will now be appointed by other unelected people, in the way Orders of Canada are handed out (you know, using the same sterling process that saw the Order bestowed upon Conrad Black, Alan Eagleson and David Ahenakew). Before, at least, there was a vestige of democratic accountability in Senate appointments. Trudeau’s move eliminates it.

Three: the Constitution contemplates a bicameral legislature, with the government being called to account by the Opposition. At different times in our history, when there has been a huge majority in the House – in the Brian Mulroney era, in the Jean Chretien era – opposition party Senators fostered debate, and thereby democracy. Trudeau’s tour de force ends all that in the Upper Chamber.

Four: what seems bold and visionary in opposition is rarely so when in government. When Trudeau is Prime Minister – as he may be, one day – he’d better get ready for the sort of gridlock Barack Obama was decrying in this week’s State of the Union address. There will be no more Liberal Senators to whip: they’ll be independents, and they will be working hard to live up to their name. Guaranteed.

Five: the Senate scandal(s) ain’t dead. If the Liberal leader hopes that his excellent Senate adventure will insulate him from coming expense probes, he’s been smoking something stronger than cannabis. Ask Stephen Harper: expelling Mike Duffy and Co. did nothing to mollify the RCMP or the media. If Trudeau did what he did for scandal inoculation, it’ll be remembered as one of the most cynical political moves in a generation.

Six: it was cruel and callous. In the “Senate Liberal” caucus, there are many hard-working and decent people. Jimmy Munson. Percy Downe. Romeo Dallaire. Lillian Dyck. Marie Poulin. What Trudeau did was recklessly smear some remarkable Canadians with scandal. It was unfair and unwarranted, and it won’t soon be forgotten by many, many Liberals.

Seven: it was done without any consultation with party members whatsoever. The only people in on the decision, ironically enough, were a puny group of unelected advisors – who thereafter fanned out to offer “exclusives” to the media about their super-important role in remaking Canadian history. For a guy who promised no more top-down decision-making, the Senate gimmick was about as top-down as it gets.

Eight: it was a whiplash-inducing reversal. Late last year, the NDP offered up an identical proposal in the House. The Liberals, Trudeau included, sniffed that it was “unconstitutional” and voted it down. What changed? We can only speculate myriad horrors await in the Auditor-General’s Senate expenses probe. They must be very big.

Nine: it cements the view that Trudeau does policy on the fly. Like the Summer lost to marijuana at the expense of any other policy. Like the ruminations about understanding the feelings of the Boston bombers, or admiring the Chinese dictatorship. All of it increasingly suggests Trudeau is making it up as he goes along. Not good.

Ten: in politics, all that matters is loyalty and trust. This week, Justin Trudeau merrily shredded both, and he broke faith with people who literally kept the Liberal Party of Canada alive when he was still in nappies.

This week, Justin Trudeau looked like a participant in a Model Parliament.

Not a Prime Minister.

118 Responses to “In Sunday’s Sun: ten reasons why Trudeau’s Senate move is a bad one”

  1. Ridiculosity says:

    Bullshit. Trudeau’s move was daring, decisive and decidedly effective and every single LPC member – AND Conservative voter – that I’ve spoke to about it agrees.

    As it’s been said, leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results.

    • Matt says:


      What will result from this stunt?

      Trudeau says he cut them loose and they’ll be independents.

      Senators say, uh, not so fast hot shot. They’re still LPC members. They’re still Liberal Senators. And, this move by Trudeau also appears to be a violation of the LPC constitution.

      What’s he going to do? Change the LPC constitution on his own after talking it over with the same 4 people that hatched this senate stunt?

      • Ridiculosity says:

        The “stunt’ thing is getting really old.

        It was a tactical, strategic move that will have little, if any, long term repercussions within the LPC, but significant impact on voters’ perception and awareness. As for violating the party Constitution? It’s a lengthy read already, due to the fact that it has been “amended” so many times over the years.

        Difficult times call for difficult decisions. Sometimes you have to play hardball. You may lose a few team members, but ultimately you end up winning the game.

        • pc says:

          I agree completely. The only people counting angels on the pin are the political wonks (ie-our gracious host et al), and the ‘five minutes of hate’ crew who grab their talking points from the PMO. This move has captured public attention, very effectively. For a so-called ‘policy lightweight,’ Mr. Trudeau sure has a knack for putting the CPC and the NDP on the defensive.

      • Cameron Prymak says:

        Canada West Foundation thinks the Trudeau move is more in the West’s interests than what PM Harper has done thus far.


  2. Swervin' Merv says:

    Yes, Justin still looks like a leader of the Junior (Boys and Girls) Parliament, but that is one of the few points I can agree with.

    Who is accountable in Canada for appointing (unelected) court judges, who are recommended by peers based on merit rather than partisan association. Why can’t this be a model for appointing senators?

    Most U.S. critics of Obamacare don’t have a feasible alternative, although some support a bolder but much tougher to implement single-payer public medicare care model. If the alternative to Trudeau’s incrementalism here is to wait for Consitutional change, we could be waiting a long time.

    The reluctance of some Senate Liberals to cut the ties on their identity mittens simply confirms the need to get away from patronage appointments.

    • SD says:

      The problem is that Justin Trudeau doesn’t propose moving away from the appointment system. True, he might set up some committee to recommend appointments to the Senate. He will appoint members of the appointment committee. The appointment committee will give him the name that he wants. He will appoint that person to the Senate based on the recommendation of the appointment committee which will likely take the original recommendation from Justin Trudeau.

      It’s the status-quo.

      • Lance says:

        Less than that actually; all that would really accomplish would be to add another level to the process; another un-elected hack suggesting to the leader who he should appoint as another un-elected hack. Yeah, after everything, that is JUST what we need.

      • Sam Davies says:

        What are your thoughts pertaining to LG’s and GG’s?
        Neither is an elected position, but we have found a way to work.

        I am not sold on the idea of electing Senators. I think there are all sorts of possibilities with regards to establishing non-partisan criteria for appointment. A good starting point might be to disqualify for consideration anyone who has held membership to any political party. For older people, this will seem crazy, as they are used to an era when many more citizens took such memberships. Presently, the numbers are so low that you really have a wide range of competent people to choose from with a wide range of differing backgrounds.

  3. Ryan Spinney says:

    How was it effective, the Senators are ignoring his will on this, nor is it daring, it was another parties idea.

    It was cynical ploy to dodge the AG report time bomb, while attempting to look relavent on the Senate file, and its already to blow up in his face.

    And it doesn’t change the fact that the Senate needs to be abolished.

  4. Lance says:

    Harsh……….but fair.

    • Jim Sutherland says:

      Then let’s call it for what it is — a PURGE!

      Where will the purge stop because Justin is making enemies within the Liberal party?

  5. Ahmed says:

    Why are you questioning him? He’s from Quebec (which produces the best (or is it the ONLY Province that produces good?) PMs) and don’t forget he said “Ce pays est a nous.” He can do whatever he pleases and a lot of (including some qualified) voters will vote for his hairdo.

  6. Jnap says:

    The long term goal (as I understand it) is to take partisanship out of the Senate’s daily functions. Future appointments should be made in a different way than PMSH uses, i.e. rewards for loyalty to the one party, not any other criteria. PMSH is not the only PM to do this, but said that he would not and then appointed over 50 by the partisan criterion.
    Let the debate begin! For each topic of legislation, pick a side, study the backgrounders, and vote your conscience.
    i dont know if it will work to improve debate, but it’s an idea and probably a good idea. Discuss among yourselves…..

  7. David Paterson says:

    I think number 4 is important – the rest, not so much. Would love to hear what PM Chretien has to say about this. It strikes me as the kind of thing he may have thought of. Out of caucus isn’t necessarily a rebuke. Could be seen as a chance to lead from withing that institution, while the govt. Senators languish. I think JT looked strong and smart on this one. Number 4 above is cause for concern but the other points don’t resonate with me.

  8. Kev says:

    Was at a trade convention. Talk turned to politics. To the Trudeau Senate gambit.

    Not one of the John Q Publics agree with you. Most of them were Tory voters and even donors. The game has changed.

  9. J. Johnston says:

    I posted these comments on a topic thread below, and I believe it is relevant to this benchmark opinion by Mr. Kinsella. I trust it will be reposted (with a few edits) here:

    “So who is providing Trudeau with these ideas on the Senate, because I doubt he initiated this move to castrate all the Liberal-appointed Senators and also half of the Liberal caucus?

    What this does is neuter all the Liberal senators and jettison them from the upper echelons of the Liberal party. Is this manoever coming from Liberal backroom strategists Butts and Telford, and convincing Justin this is a good political move? Justin surely could not have come up with this himself because it’s a complicated strategic move requiring political brains.

    Perhaps many of the old Liberal senators are in deep doodoo and will be exposed in the AG report forcing Trudeau to cut the ties and casting them adrift, after all, they are the oldest bunch of Senators and set the standard for all Senators.

    Could this snafu just be another manifestation of the Martinites trying to completely eliminate the Chretienites, and Justin has stuck his foot into it?

    What is it with the Liberal Senators that Justin’s team rejects? Is it Justin’s “generational change” declaration coming to fruition? Who is next out of Justin’s Liberal caucus. Dion? Garneau? And all the veteran MPs with the title “Honourable” prefixing their name, some 16 of them appointed by Turner, Chretien and Martin– and even Trudeau?

    Is this really the final chapter of the Martinites decimating the Chretienites?

    Questions, questions. Only time will tell.”

    • George Pringle says:

      No, it’s probably the Party itself by using Senate funding to keep some hacks employed when their House funding was reduced due their new seat total and third place status.

  10. Jacob says:

    “The “stunt’ thing is getting really old.

    It was a tactical, strategic move that will have little, if any, long term repercussions within the LPC, but significant impact on voters’ perception and awareness.”

    Um Dude? That is the exact definition of a stunt.

    Sorry to the supporters but JT has stepped in it again. Yes, he’s stealing some thunder in the weekly news cycle, but in the end this will become one more item in a long list of maneuvers that are all style, no substance. Exactly the narrative that JT doesn’t want to perpetuate. Because he’s so vulnerable on this front, he should be ensuring that his moves are MORE substantial than his opponent’s moves, but instead he’s feeding right into the image of him as a vapid attention-seeker.

  11. Sean says:

    100% correct Warren. But I still sincerely think he’s going to win about 90 seats at least because of his hair cut.

    • Sean says:

      I want to add: What would have been truly dramatic, substantive, revolutionary even… If Trudeau had the balls and charisma to actually talk all 32 Liberal Senators into resigning totally as Senators. They are all rich anyways. That was the kind of *crazy / awesome* shit his dad could have pulled off.

      • J. Johnston says:

        And then Harper would simply appoint 32 Conservative drones to the Upper Chamber and they would stay there beyond 2015 to make life miserable for any Liberal or NDP government. Just try to terminate the Senate when the Provinces are not on board.

        There is something more at play than just the existence of the Senate.

      • Kaspar Juul says:

        Then you’d get 32 failed Tory candidates appointed to senate. I doubt it PET was that reckless

  12. Paul Brennan says:

    dumb move … but its a race between dumb and dumber with mad looking mulcair in there somewhere…you can bet there has been many rip offs of tax payer over years in senate …these ones are just being made public…imagine -the honor system on expenses..try that on with CRA for the rest of us or with companies we work for…residence allowances…really , honorary degrees received and we pay for flights, paid speeches on Senate time.., multitude of Senators running law practises and businesses. Orders of canada for freinds .. some good work has been done but rest of it over shadows it

  13. james Smith says:

    What would you do with it?
    - Get rid of it?- OK – Call me when you think the time’s right for opening-up the constitution.
    - Elect it? Really? WIth much the same powers of the House, an elected senate will be a ligit alternative to the House. Ask PoTUS how well the whole Grid lock thingie is going.
    - If the senate becomes a place for picky wordsmiths to be a spell check, AND an idiot check for legislation that would be a good use for the senate. Populate the place with people something akin to law clerks, copy writers, medical record keeper, specification writers, and paralegals and NO lawyers, CEO’s, journalists, musicians, or failed politicos.

    As for your last line, I think you should talk to some Non Toronto/ Ottawa types. If my Wild-Rose-Voting-Everett-Manning-Loving Mother-in-law thinks it’s a great move, JT’s doing something to look PM-ish.

  14. Steeplejack says:

    I thought it was an odd thing to do. To pass legislation you have to get a bill through both houses. Regardless of being unelected, the Senate is still made up of party members. Isn’t booting the Liberal ones from caucus and declaring them as independents just handing carte blanche power to the Conservatives in the red chamber?

  15. frmr disgruntled Con now happy Lib says:

    Well, there went the war room gig…….that’s ok…..you’re going to be busy with yer own election campaign(if my prognostication is the correct one)…..;)

  16. Kaplan says:

    Warren, with respect:

    One: Irrelevant. The public saw Trudeau kick Senators out of the Liberal caucus. No one outside the parliamentary precinct cares what they call themselves. What we know is that they don’t sit with the Liberal national caucus anymore.

    Two: That’s a problem Trudeau can choose to address when he’s PM. And one he can continue to point out that Harper has run from.

    Three: If we get to a point where the senate is officially non-partisan, your point is moot. Will it be difficult to get there? Well, it always has been. Trudeau’s taken the first step towards that goal, though. (And tell folks in NWT that their non-partisan system lacks debate, and democracy.)

    Four: Several, if not most, PMs have dealt with opposition from the Senate. What makes this different? And what makes it wrong? You call it gridlock, but imagine an unencumbered PM Stockwell Day with a Tory majority in both houses. You’d be praying for ‘gridlock’ at that point.

    Five: If the AG’s audit is bad for the Liberals, he’s kicked the perpetrators out. And having staked out his position in advance, he can come out looking OK. And a month from then, no one will be talking about it.

    Six: Again, no disrespect intended, but apart from partisans who care about who rubbed elbows with who on which campaign, no one cares if there’s hurt feelings. They keep their jobs, salaries, perks and pensions. They just don’t caucus on a weekly basis.

    Seven: I recall Chretien making some bold moves without sending a questionnaire to party members. You think Trudeau would risk a leak on a move this big?

    Eight: I recall Chretien making some bold policy moves that drew from other parties. And, in breaking news, Angus Reid says Trudeau’s move is most popular with voters who supported the NDP in 2011 (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/01/30/trudeau-senate-mulcair-liberals-ndp_n_4697398.html). That ain’t nothing.

    Nine: Define ‘on the fly’. Should he have announced this when he ran for leader? Should he have announced it before Christmas? He moved quickly. This is bad if you want to frame it negatively, as you’re doing. I see it as someone who saw a massive opportunity for both political gain and potential systemic improvement.

    Ten: This is really a continuation of your sixth point, but there’s precious little sympathy for unelected Senators, no matter which party they served. I take your point about the lack of consultation, but come on. You think another policy paper on senate reform written by a couple twenty-somethings in the Liberal caucus research unit would’ve resulted in any real action?

    Warren, at the end of the day, your pal Joey Keithley said it best: talk minus action equals zero.

    • Stew B says:

      I couldn’t have said it any better – well put Kaplan.

      • Domenico says:

        I agree, well thought out and stated. The concern about gridlock strikes me as just not valid. I like Justin’s idea, and think it may nudge the Senate towards a body like the UK House of Lords that contains experts and members from outside political parties, not just whipped seals. I think this is a positive step toward sober second thought. And I think the voters en mass will not care one whit about the poor Senators who were not consulted.

  17. J. Johnston says:

    Mr. Kinsella, your article is a seminal statement challenging the Liberal party leadership and you are courageous to have done this. Allow me to comment seriatim:

    One: A rose by any other name? It almost seems cynical of the Liberal strategist to have redefined the Liberal Senate Liberals! So why would they try to pawn their (il)logic on us? Is it a preemptive move to put a firewall around Trudeau and the Liberal party in expectation of bad news from the AG? Will that be the second shoe dropping? Something is going to happen soon.

    Two: Trudeau is eschewing his Liberal senate colleagues and is seemingly sidestepping the unelected issue; literally washing his hands of the issue and the Senators too. Will this jesture fly or will it backfire?

    Three: Trudeau’s “tour de force” is not only unconstitutional in the Liberal Constitution, it doesn’t broach the constitutional obligation on the PM to name Senators.

    Four: If current Liberal Senators disagree with Trudeau they may well become independent “conservative-leaning” Senators. I wonder how many current Liberal Senators will just retire gracefully and let Harper appoint more Conservative drones. Might as well since their role is uncertain now.

    Five: Agree wholly.

    Six: Not only that, it compromises the ability of ex-Liberal Liberal Senators to perform as an effective Opposition in the Red Chamber. They are neutered!

    Seven: There is a power cabal within the Liberal party that is equivalent to the dictatorial PMO apparatchiks! This just confirms it! Not good.

    Eight: As I stated in another comment, there may be long standing abuses of expense reporting within the Senate; something that goes back decades. But if so, should Trudeau have so callously jettisoned the 32 odd Liberal Senators in such harsh manner? Who convinced him to dump the Senators now? Accountability must be upheld.

    Nine: Trudeau’s policy gaffes must be of concern because the devious Cons and Dippers too will use these snafus in election campaign attack ads with devastating effectiveness.

    Ten: This is a condemnation of Trudeau and his lack of political smarts. If he rejects old Senators, will he also purge the Liberal party of many of the old veteran MPs, who must be living in sheer apprehension over their futures? Shaky times within the Liberal caucus with generational change pressures.

    Perhaps not a Prime Minister, but also his leadership now must be questioned because he cannot escape the consequences of chucking supporters overboard and not even express some regret for his arbitrary actions. These are serious times for the Liberal Party of Canada and if future events do not vindicate Trudeau’s actions, the party may well fracture. That would be a political disaster and wiser heads must intervene, now.

  18. MississaugaPeter says:

    If this is what Trudeau and his entourage think of and treat their friends, imagine what they think of and how they will treat you?

    Anyone who suggests that Trudeau has won the next election because of this, you are an IDIOT.

    Was Muclair going to become prime minister because of this because he introduced it first?

    Trudeau will gain a few points because he is seen to have done something rather than the Conservative’s nothing. However, once the Conservatives drive the reality that now unelected folks will appoint other unelected folks for life positions, the few points will disappear (and a few more).

  19. Steve T says:

    I am a small-c conservative who has been a large-c conservative up until the last election. I have recently been disillusioned with PMSH, but wasn’t quite sure about the Libs or Trudeau.

    Trudeau’s move on the Senate, whether “stunt” or not, has me thinking he may be worth a look. I hate the Senate so much, anything that moves them one step closer to (a) irrelevance or (b) independence is a huge deal to me.

    Isn’t that a success, for the Libs? It certainly seems like one to me.

  20. Sean says:

    What Kinsella offered in this article is a fine example of divergent and contingent thinking. It’s the mind of a lawyer ( actually a well developed intellect) and it’s the mind of Pierre Elliot Trudeau, John Shelby Spong, Brian Mulroney and other such types who can think on their feet and rapidly postulate how something can unfold. Divergent thinking reflects a number of important intellectual capacities, such as the ability of a quarterback to quickly read the defense and call an audible at the line of scrimmage.

    Unlike the above, Justin does not impress me in an intellectual way. His oratory consists of platitudes and anecdotes-I heard him speak to a gathering two years ago and was highly disappointed. I’ve yet to see him delve into a topic which reflects a degree of scholarly pursuit. Can he explain to anyone the underlying theme of “Federalism and the French Canadians” and why the author argued that a separatist revolution was really a counter revolution? Has he even read this work or even know that it was his father who wrote the book?

    My guess is that his inner circle can manipulate him, stickhandle around him, snow him, because he lacks the intellectual and scholarly skills to rapidly grasp their arguments, and analyses them in terms of their various repercussions. He’s at their mercy and his senate fiasco proves it.

    Justin reminds me of a deer which was having a romping great time in the forest. But now he’s been tossed into the centre of the road, and seems paralyzed by fear, staring into the glaring headlights of an oncoming car.

    • Sam Davies says:

      You raise some good points. With that, surely you must recognize that you concerns are not shared amongst the electorate? The era we reside in has now been conditioned to not trust the intellectual and brand them as elites. I don’t think this is a good thing, but such is the way things are, and my feelings will not change this.

      We live in a world that elected Rob Ford. He didn’t just scrape by – he came into power with blazing numbers. Rob Ford’s intellect can be summed up by 2+2=jello. Keep that in mind when you judge Justin – he could actually be a zillion times worse (like Rob Ford).

      For what it’s worth, I feel your pain. The Rob Ford era has pretty much shocked me into accepting that my ideals are in the minority, and it is far more important for me to adapt so that something better can be achieved. Just plain old fashioned pragmatism.

    • Barker says:

      Justin’s speeches are well received because he speaks to his audience and he realizes that a political speech is not the time to advance scholarly pursuits. How many people would bother to even listen if he used language such as Conrad Black or Rex Murphy? He probably learned that in his past life as a teacher!

  21. Philippe says:

    It was so dumb that most Canadians agree with the move. I call that brilliant.

  22. Brammer says:

    I like Justin’s move. Brilliant indeed.

    Last week I received a ten percenter from my GTA Conservative MP. These flyers usually contains the PMO talking points du jour, a la “Is the EAP good for Canadians or should we kill kittens?” This week was different, it was all about supporting Micheal Chong’s reform bill, a blatant shot across the bow of dear leader and the PMO.

    Change in the air?

  23. Paul Richards says:

    I’m Paul Richards and I’m a douchebag.

  24. Sam Davies says:

    Just looking at the wide ranges of responses (from Libs and haters) here (for me) proves that this move is pretty awesome.

    Deep analysis only applies to the scant percent of voters that are big into Canadian politics. If anything, the Rob Ford era has proven that the majority of people are not big on research and analysis. As such, this move is a strong one.

    The perception of Trudeau is that he is willing to cut the entrenched old Guard of the party, thus furthering himself from good old Ad scam. The symbolism of the move trumps any and all practical aspects of the move. The fact that it seems to have ticked off Liberal supporters from previous eras is so much more a plus than a negative, so please, keep it up!

    The analysis of consequences in the future just strengthens the perception. This fear comes from the old Guard who is quite used to manipulating the Senate for their own purposes. His message is – old school strategy concerns is an old Guard concern – i am serious about changing the game. The most important gain from this is that it reduces considerable positioning power Harper has on Senate reform. For ages, people bought into the idea that Liberals were all about patronage and entitlement. Now it will be Harper. Should Harper lose the next election, how will Canadians react if he uses the Conservative majority Senate to block legislation? The optics will be horrible.

    • pc says:

      Very well said.

    • Jim Sutherland says:

      But Sam, if those who now control the Liberal party find it expedient to throw the Liberal Senators overboard because they are the “Old Guard”, will they finish the job by purging all the old veteran MPs who are now sitting in the Liberal MP caucus? Where does the purge stop?

  25. po'd says:

    One thing that defeats most criticism of this change is a review of the backgrounds and qualifications of the people Harper has appointed to the Senate and that he even went so far as to appoint some of them more than once. Parking garage for CPC failures and other misc. recognizable names including at least one who admits he is virtually illiterate?

    Overall, it appears you believe in a system of benign dictatorship. Unfortunately, the concept of absolute power corrupting those who wield it tends to rise to fore all too often.

    • Lance says:

      That has been the case for whichever party was in power. Don’t make it wholly a Conservative (or due to “who Harper has appointed”) issue because it isn’t.

      • Kaspar Juul says:

        He did carve out a huge chunk of it for himself with although appointments (didn’t he say he wasn’t going to appoint senators? Oops) and despite your claim it could be an issue.

        Like stating “its a fact” doesn’t mean it’s a fact, saying it won’t be an issue doesn’t mean it won’t.

      • po'd says:

        The old Liberals did it first schtick or version thereof. How many other people can you name that were appointed more than once or who admit they are virtually illiterate?

        Then there was all that tut tutting and prognostication about cleaning the place up, gonna be so different. So much for all that.

  26. J.W. says:

    He did what he could. He did what was possible without a constitutional mess.

    I’m so disappointed to see you go in this direction Warren.

    He’s in the Chretien not the Martin mode Warren.

  27. Tyrone says:

    What impresses me the most is the discussion that your column has provoked on your website. There are a series of articulate, reasoned, and interesting arguments being made, pro and con, and I feel like it isn’t just a bunch of hacks and trolls, but rather people who are sincerely engaging with the ideas you’re putting out there. Congrats, Warren, on carving out a space for debate, and being big enough to post a bunch of opinions contrary to your own without Sun-Style instant slap-downs (no offence to your employers, but making people wait to respond to published pieces and then smacking them immediately in the letters-to-the-editor section is textbook imbalance-if-not-abuse of power). Keep the discussion flowing – this is important stuff!

  28. Gayle says:

    Personally, I do not see the point of the Senate if it is made up of a bunch of elected or non-elected partisans whose job is to do the same thing as the elected partisans in the House of Commons. Why do we spend money on that?

    If the purpose of the Senate is to be sober second thought, then the only way that works is with a non-partisan appointed senate. We need people in there who do their job – review legislation and honestly critique it without fear they will be kicked out by their party leader if they do not follow his or her direction. I am not concerned about gridlock – I can see there may be problems while some senators are still conservatives and the rest non-partisan, but eventually the composition of the Senate will change to be entirely non partisan. At that point all the government of the day need do is pass good legislation. For one thing, a non-partisan Senate is less likely to rubber stamp unconstitutional bills such as that tough on crime legislation Harper enacted to cater to his base.

    Both Harper and Mulcair propose reforms that involve constitutional change, but neither of them like to talk about that issue. Trudeau’s proposal is a stark contrast to theirs, and it exposes the fact that any other proposal requires constitutional reform. If we want to discuss reforming the Senate we need to be honest about what that means.

  29. dave says:

    and what did these former LIBERAL senators do first after they got axed………..voted themselves a raise. Once at the trough, always at the trough.

  30. John Elliott says:

    The mafia, tong, mafiyah, biker gangs, crips and bloods are all about loyalty and trust within the group. Famous for it. But I don’t want them running the country. There are some things that should trump loyalty and internal trust. Organized crime doesn’t live in such a universe but I think the LPC should and I hope it does

  31. G. Mcrae says:

    Most Liberal Senators, or Senate Liberals, or whatever they refer to themselves as, will most likely chose to sit on their asses in the next general election and not help young Trudeau. They don’t need to publicly display their unhappiness of getting stabbed in the back. No fundraising, no stumping, none of it. It won’t matter at all to them personally because they will still have their senate jobs regardless of the outcome.

    • Kenneth T. Tellis says:

      Trudeau has taken the rad to oblivion and the Liberal Senators will drag him down as soon as they find it necessary. He is an impediment and this might be the end of the line for the Liberal Party of Canada, and for that I thank God! Anyway, Maman Margaret can change Justin’s diaper for him when he defecates.

  32. Lorne Russell says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with Warren on well, just about anything. But this article is spot on. Reason number 1 pretty much sums it all up:

    “… the legislators formerly known as “Liberal Senators” would heretofore be known as “Senate Liberals.” Seem like a big change to you? Us neither. ”

    But the other 9 points are interesting as well.

  33. Stew B says:

    Expelling the former Liberal Senators from Caucus was more about cleaning out the old Liberal closets. The Liberals will have to amend their constitution to remove all references to Senators but that’s just another house cleaning task. It will be put to the party’s membership in due course. More house cleaning to come within the Liberal Party, it is a necessity.

  34. dave says:

    Point three suggests ‘…debate…therefore, democracy…’
    I am not so sure about this. It is more likely the other way round, Democracy, therefore (useful) debate!

    There used to be a one liner about European countries leaving their African colonies to nationhood…Let them have their little legislature for their little debates, as long as we keep the banks.

    Our system, with both legislative and executive powers increasingly centralized in the Prime Minister’s Office, renders pretty well all debate in both our houses as irrelevant. Most Canadians just do not follow it.
    In Ottawa, and in our provincial legislatures, I have heard good info coming out of opposition benches, and back benches, but media almost never passes it on, and few Canadians subscribe to Hansard, or are as wealthy as I am so they can follow debates on tv or on the net.

    So, I don’t think debate necessarily means democracy, and I don’t think that what is said in our senate matters much to anyone outside of those immediately present in the senate.

  35. Hmm, I think that your critique is weak. Point 7 and 9 are valid criticisms, but all the rest can be readily refuted, or ameliorated.

  36. Al in Cranbrook says:

    My first reaction was, not a bad idea. I’m a big believer in an independent senate.

    However, I’m also a believer in an elected senate.

    Having read some of the fall out from this, how it was handled, and JT’s ideas on reform…

    I concur with WK, on pretty much all points. Given the somewhat radical nature of the move, it certainly is not the kind of thing that’s done on a sudden whim…which by all indications is what happened…for all the reasons stated here.

    Can anyone name another profession that pays relatively big bucks, is handed to one pretty much for life, regardless of performance short of being caught in an armed robbery, forget about actual achievement, as is the case with the senate. (Kinda like a union job on steroids…) Bottom line, it’s just plain stupid…and the results thereof are often manifest. Too often.

    What grinds me is that during Liberal administrations nobody gave much of a damn about the senate…especially the usual suspects of the MSM.

    The only reason they’re interested now is that they think they can smell Conservative blood in the water. Couple that with two of Ottawa Press Gallery’s own becoming…GASP!…Conservative senators, and they can create the perfect storm…if they can play their cards just right.

    I don’t remember a single soul warning that Wallen and/or Duffy are terrible choices for the senate because of a lack of integrity.

    I sincerely doubt that there is anyone on the Hill that likely has less use for the Senate, certainly in its current form, or ever has than Harper himself. All his efforts to change anything have been stonewalled…mostly by Liberals, not to mention disinterested provincial governments. In the meantime he’s stuck with it, and the reality that it has to function in some form that requires him to fill vacancies. He’d be a damn fool not to know that, given the first opportunity, the Liberals certainly will. Think Coalition From Hell that damn near got that opportunity.

    He’s right: Either fix the damn thing, or get rid of it altogether.

  37. John Carrick says:

    I’m an idiot.

  38. Tim says:

    I agree with some of what you said, Warren, but points one and four are somewhat contradictory. In the first point, you say it’s a change in name only, then in the fourth point you argue that the senators really will operate with independence. So, which one is it? That’s not rhetorical. I’m honestly curious as to how you or others see this affecting party allegiance.

  39. Lance says:

    It will be put to the party’s membership in due course.

    After the fact, like what just happened? Okay then.

  40. Scot says:

    There are enough senate haters and pot smokers alone to win him the election.

    • dave says:

      The Libs, if elected to govern, could use senate reform and pot law changes the way that the Conservatives used gun de reg…natter on about it and freedom and such for years, do nothing, finally backed into doing something, then continue nattering about it.

  41. steve says:

    A shot across the bow or a full fledged blitzkrieg.
    I read it as the latter.
    but with respect Warren I think your wrong.
    I was not there for all those handshakes and endorsement of candidates like Joe Volpe.
    Canadians want change
    we want to be less staus quo
    especially if it means giving the Senate
    a stipend on the road.

  42. e.a.f. says:

    Living in B.C., not being a federal Liberal, I loved his announcement. It was a smart move. It distances the federal Liberals from any Senate fall out and it says he wants change in the Senate, even if it can’t happen, due to the constitution. Former “liberal” senators are now free to vote with their conscience and what is best for the region they represent. Makes it a whole lot better. It may even force some Conservative senators to vote according to what is best for their region as opposed to what is best for Harper and his ilk.

    Mulcair’s call for abolishing the senate, didn’t make me happy, even though I support him.

    The kid’s announcement said, not business as usual. Now some old time liberals who have worked hard for the party may not like this but, hey if the truly are good liberals they will see this may just get them back into being the government. It isn’t a slap in the face to all the Liberal senators who have worked hard, its simply saying we need a change and we need to form government again.

    If a federal election were called now, and our current Conservative M.P. had a strong federal Liberal candidate challenger, and a not so strong NDP candidate, I’d hold my nose and vote federal Liberal for the first time in my life.

    So Warren, you may have 10 reasons why isn’t a good reason, I have one good reason, more votes for the liberals and a chance to once again form government. Not that I wouldn’t prefer an NDP government, but hey with the current government of Cons, you can’t be that choosey about who replaces them.

  43. wallyj says:

    If we don’t look at this latest move too close, it appears to be sound.
    But. unless you are a Trudeauphile, or dim, you will question it.
    Mr. Kinsella has done so, kudos to him.


    • Terry Quinn says:

      JT made the only move he could at this juncture; he now needs to unveil his full plan for the senate.

      • Albert says:

        Justin has severed ties with the Liberal Senators and essentially purged them out of the Liberal caucus. If this is a move against old Liberals, then those veteran MPs in the Liberal caucus must also question if they are next. The Liberal party may be going through a complete political purge, no doubt.

  44. Jim Sutherland says:

    Many of the pro-Trudeau arguments centre on the logic that (a) he wants the Senate abolished and that’s good enough for me, (b) he is better than Harper or Mulcair and this must be a good move in the long run, (c) Justin can’t be wrong therefore he is right. Such is the logic of desperation.

    Trudeau has summarily dismissed the Liberal Senators and put a firewall around himself and the MP caucus. That is the wrong way to build party cohesion. What are the repercussions of his expulsion of Senators from his caucus? That’s what Kinsella is broaching in no uncertain terms.

    I suspect Trudeau is implementing his “generational change” policy on “his” Liberal party in a rather brutal manner. Even the veterans in the MP caucus do not have their riding nominations protected. How many will retire before the next election and how many will lose their ridings because the Trudeau strategists will inject newer younger candidates (e.g. Freeland) into the nomination battles that surely must ensue!

    To confirm my speculations, I refer you to this Toronto Star article today where Trudeau is quoted as saying he knows he has “hurt” feelings, but he is confident he can replace those who’s support he has lost with new supporters:


    I believe what we are witnessing is a planned purge within the Liberal party by replacing the older remnants with newer and younger organizers and supporters, and Trudeau seems to confirm this too. This is being orchestrated by the current cabal of Liberal backroom strategists who have convinced Justin that this is the way to move aggressively into the future — out with the old and in with the new.

  45. Brad Young says:

    If you are going to beat Harper at his own game, it’s all about appearances.

    • G. Mcrae says:

      And what’s the appearance here? Making stuff as he goes along? Was this ever discussed at any convention? Did the (lack of) brain trust run this past anybody outside of the inner circle? Reminds of Martin and the not withstanding clause. Harper will mop up the intellectual lightweight…unelected board of overseers appointing unelected senators. The campaign writes itself.

  46. Albert says:

    Having read Warren’s article an all the comments on this forum I believe we are witnessing an upheaval in the Liberal party; and possibly a generational conflict between young guns and the old guard with Trudeau leading the charge against the old guard.

    Warren Kinsella is the first Liberal of substance to have taken a stance against the strategy to purge the Liberal Senators out of the Liberal caucus for optics or for intent. Now we await for more Liberal voices to be heard, pro or con the rejection of Liberal Senators. Will MPs such as Dion, Garneau, others like Martha Hall-Findley add their voices to that of Kinsella or will they remain silent and duck the issue?

    The Liberal party must be experiencing a growing turmoil that could result in a schism within the Liberal party. Will they hold together and buckle under to the strategies of the new Liberal backroom operatives or will they resist? Obviously Kinsella is rebelling against those who he believes has mislead Justin, and now has declared him “Not a Prime Minister”! That is a damning denunciation!

    If Trudeau does not survive as leader will the Liberal party fold the tent and throw their lot in with the NDP under Mulcair? I wonder if there will be anything left to salvage if Trudeau’s gambit fails.

    • Michael says:

      Yes, Trudeau better be careful. Because without the old guard helping, organizing and fundraising the Liberal Party is in danger of falling to all time low seat totals and quite possibly being surpassed by the NDP.

      Oh wait, that happened under the watch of the old guard.

  47. Beth Higginson says:

    I am on the fence on this one. It seems that it is being positively received by most people.

  48. Paul Brennan says:

    I liked that garneau ..he was a space cadet but a damn fine one

  49. Paul Brennan says:

    it was a joke …

    read up a piece …unfortunately politics arent about intellect – Ford, Wynne etc etc , like a number of other things in society low brow wins…all you have to do is watch TV to see the garbage that folks watch, the dumbing down of our classrooms , etc etc

  50. james curran says:

    Then there’s this opinion.


    Personally, I think there’s little to no downside to Justin’s move and lots of upside. Then again, what do I know.

    • Warren says:

      You know plenty! And you also know how to better handle Warren.

      If I get one more Liberal fart-catcher telling me I should shut up and be loyal, I’m going to wrote a tell-all column they’ll never fucking forget.

  51. Anne Butcher says:

    So Justin throws out his Liberal Senators on Thursday or Friday and the very next day the no longer Liberal senators meet with whom ever and ask for and GET a 27000.00 raise! Wow !
    Now the Sunday sun article where I read this says they no longer have to follow Trudeau around the country like puppy dogs and thus have a lot less to do but they get this raise!! Why
    What the heck is going on and who is it that is okaying this . They refuse to go away because of all the money they wll lose and the expense accounts and perks not because they care about Canada and Canadians. Is there a smart pperson in the group or are they all out to lunch on your dime. Please does anyone know about this raise. Nothing on line or on the news but definately in the Sunday Sun this past weekend.

  52. Telmea Story says:

    I think it was a brilliant move, better than the b*slapping he gave Brazeau. If it ruffled some old guard liberal feathers, fine. The old guard were tne ones who offered Ignatieff to the Canadian electorate, who was possibly the only worse choice than Harper.

  53. Albert says:

    Rumours are that PM Harper will offer retiring MP Irwin Cotler a seat in the Senate….. as an “independent” Senator of course!

  54. [...] right to strip senators of their party designation. Former Liberal party hatchetman Warren Kinsella came up with 10 reasons why the plan is “the stupidest thing, ever” — which is saying a lot when describing a policy [...]

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  56. Lance says:

    12. The move just reinforced a Tory narrative regarding Trudeau.

    Those same souls are STILL living with it. Cutting them loose from the party is one thing. Trudeau has NO power to cut them loose as Senators.

    Personal anecdotes are great but they are meaningless. Every single person I asked at Toronto Pearson a couple of days ago..hundreds…..all……..and I mean f…ing all said this changes NOTHING and is a waste of time.

    I live in a riding that hasn’t seen a Tory MP in a dog’s age. This is a labour town. Been asking here, too. Same result.

    “He does have his old mans genes”…heard it over and over and over…and everyone said it with a sneer.

    Who knows what the future holds…the make up of the senate…or even if it exists in its current form…2, 5, 10 years down the road…is irrelevant. It is Justin’s to win or lose…and this week…many, many Canadians will find that faith misplaced…or skepticism in him is well warranted. A bold, decisive move doesn’t always equate with a smart move.

    Regarding Mr. Fantino….don’t assume too much when it comes to how Conservative voters regard him. Conservatives are not the only ones that will make mistakes. Liberals will make them, too. They just did. BIG time.

    Hope Liberals are getting ready…but election ain’t coming any time soon. Harper has no reason to…….now…will all the little goodies like the one Trudeau gave him coming his way.

  57. Ridiculosity says:

    Agreed. The move just won him the election. Full stop.

  58. Sean says:

    Baloney. This is all about which meeting room they all go to on Weds. morning. The university poly sci folks are going to get quite excited about Liberals meeting in two rooms instead of one. The rest of the world? Crickets chirping.

  59. Cassandra Pollock says:

    Not being part of federal LPC parliamentary caucus means very little if you are still a card holding member of LPC & still a Senator & still Loyal to the Party Leaderb& steadfastly holding up and voting the party line in the Senate. I resent both Trudeau & Harper for continuously insulting my intelligence by proposing grand gestures in the media that amount a big fat “0″ for meaningful change & just add up to more deceitful & corrupt Grandestanding. In my opinion the NDP & the Green Party are the only parties that still stand for any kind of credibility.

  60. Kaspar Juul says:


  61. Sam Davies says:

    I disagree. The majority of Canadians are too busy to pay attention to the specifics of politics will give credit to the symbolic move. The details and specifics of the change are about as important as the specifics of a gravy train.

  62. Kaspar Juul says:

    You hang around at Pearson polling travellers? Hogwash!

  63. George Pringle says:

    Actually, he kicked them out of caucus and while they want to claim they are the Opposition – they are not. Opposition goes the second largest caucus in Senate. So a couple of disgruntled former Lib senators should join the Green party and get the extra pay for Opposition Leader et al. The grand strategic plan had no real strategy or maybe he has never the read the rules before he tossed Senator Cowan out of his extra pay.

  64. Philippe says:

    Your Senate “reform” is a crock of shit. They have elected Senators down South- it leads to a paralyzed State, as we’ve witnessed these last 4 years.

  65. Lance says:

    About as much as hanging around a Halifax market. Besides, ever check into a flight there at the end of the day? Not a lot to do while you wait, except avail yourself of the spotty wifi.

  66. MoeL says:

    Want gridlock, get an elected senate WITH as much legitimacy as the house. I prefer an an appointed senate that can provide independent (i.e. non partisan) second thought but that in the end does no have the moral authority to really hold things up. Also I think a senator’s home province should be consulted on the appointment.

  67. Kaspar Juul says:

    I’m in airports quite regularly. I’ll make a point to ignore the annoying guy pestering people about politics.

    Btw that doesn’t mean your anecdote isn’t a load of bunk

  68. Lance says:

    LOL Kaspar of COURSE it’s bunk, that was the point I was making. I would never be that guy. The last thing a person wants when already irritated with air travel is being bothered by some strange guy striking up a random conversation, about politics of all things. I strongly suspect the same goes for market places. You get what I meant? Do you understand what it is to be facetious and doing just that to prove a point when talking about the usefulness of personal anecdotes? You get it now? Alright then.

    Dan, there is and ALWAYS has been “bad news coming down the pipe” regarding Mr. Harper or Prime Ministers in general. Same goes for any leader of any party. There is always some scandal in the wings just waiting to be mongered. The AG’s report will be no exception I am sure. But I doubt Harper loses any more sleep about it now than he does then or will in the future.

    And AGAIN, don’t make too many assumptions about how a lot of Conservatives regard Fantino or his “spin”.

  69. Kaspar Juul says:

    Why yes and thanks Lance for giving an apt description of what they call a wanker in The United Kingdom.

  70. Kaspar Juul says:

    Have you ever read Tulk’s article on the coming Wildrose majority?

    It’s a magnum opus of balderdash, exaggeration and what i hope was parody.

    Pure Tulkian comedy

  71. Kaspar Juul says:

    Wikipedia is not a valid source Gord. You’ve been told this many times. Could you please find a resource that isn’t publicly editable?

  72. Exactly. Bi-cameral house puts a pause button on every piece of legislation, but the upper house cannot simply reject any bill ad-infinitum. The Government gets to conclude it’s business, although perhaps not to their intended schedule, extremely contentious legislation gets a thorough airing. I am not sure that Provinces should be consulted. If they were, that would impart a greater responsibility on Senators, that may be incompatible with their un-elected status, and limited power to delay legislation. Whatever we do, I think we should be very wary of LEGITIMISING gridlock from a truly bi-cameral house.

  73. MoeL says:

    You’re probably right that having provincial inputs into the nomination process could increase the senate’s legitimacy on certain issues. Potential gridlock must be avoided at all cost.

  74. Kaspar Juul says:

    Thin skinned as always. Never change Mr Tulk

  75. Kaspar Juul says:

    A weak dodge is saying “it matches up with what I said so it’s right”

    At least you’re consistent

  76. Albert says:

    Trudeau’s Senate position is somewhat disengenuous coming on the eve of a damning AG report on Senator expenses. He would have been a better leader if he had embraced the Liberal Senators regardless. Claiming that Liberal Senators can now be “independent” is cynical.

    Justin has been misguided by his backroom strategists for reasons that will become evident soon. He is just an actor strutting on the political stage and delivering his scripted lines. He doesn’t have the political chops to conceive this Senate strategy.

    Trying to elevate the discussion to some higher political level is faulty, as stated by Kinsella.

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