POLITICS

Sen. Pierrette Ringuette Quits Senate Liberal Caucus To Sit As Independent

02/02/2016 12:09 EST
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A New Brunswick senator has announced she’s quitting the Senate Liberal caucus and will sit as an independent, effective immediately.

Sen. Pierrette Ringuette issued a statement Tuesday citing a desire among Canadians for a non-partisan Senate as one of the reasons behind her decision.

“Effective change in the Senate will need to happen from within and I believe as more Senators are appointed as independent and more current Senators move away from the hardline partisanship of the past, we will be able to make those changes,” Ringuette said.

“ I want to help to move it along a little faster.”
— Sen. Pierrette Ringuette

She elaborated how she hopes the upper chamber can, one day, be an institution of sober second thought.

“It is my hope for this to happen sooner, rather than later, and that is why I want to help to move it along a little faster,” she said.

Her decision comes two months after Sen. Jacques Demers resigned from the Conservative national and Senate caucus to sit as an Independent.

Ringuette, appointed to the upper chamber by former prime minister Jean Chretien in 2002, becomes the twelfth Independent to currently sit in the 105-seat Senate.

Trudeau-turfed senators

Two years ago, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made headlines after booting 32 senators from caucus.

“There are no more Liberal senators,” Trudeau said at the time.

Because Senate rules are based on a two-party system, the shakeup prompted leaders to make the decision to continue sitting as Liberals in order to secure funding and their hold onto an opposition leader’s office.

“We have agreed that we will style ourselves as the Liberal Senate caucus,” Senate Liberal Leader James Cowan said then.

Senators who are not members of an official party are not privy to research funds or Senate committee participation.

Trudeau’s move ejected senators from caucus, but not the party.

The gambit was praised by some as a concrete move toward reforming the scandal-plagued Senate, but critics — some liberated senators among them — brushed off its significance.

“Business as usual,” said Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan at the time.

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