02/07/2014 10:31 EST | Updated 04/09/2014 05:59 EDT

Trudeau's Abolition of Liberal Senators Changes Nothing

Originally published for the Prince Arthur Herald

Justin Trudeau has banished all 32 Liberal Senators from the Liberal caucus, yet he's managed to accomplish absolutely nothing in the process.

At a surprise meeting Wednesday morning, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau told his Liberal Senators they were all fired from the Liberal caucus. The move caught everyone off guard -- most of all, Trudeau's own Senators and staffers, including the Liberal Senate leader.

As Glen McGregor reported, the decision to kick all 32 Senators from Liberal caucus was a closely guarded secret discussed "by a small circle of advisors." Those included uWaterloo professor Emmett Macfarlane and Matthew Mendelsohn, Director of the public policy think-tank The Mowat Centre.

It seems, from McGregor's insider report, that the decision to boot all 32 Senators from caucus was already decided -- Liberal MPs Dominic LeBlanc and Ralph Goodale were tasked with "identifying any resistance," and the private discussion largely turned to the "approach" to announcing the policy rather than the actual policy itself.

But there really won't be any change at all. As Liberal Senate Leader James Cowan said: "There will still be a Liberal Senate caucus, he said, and it will be populated by the same group of Liberal senators, who will each remain a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, though, they may call themselves something different."

He continued: "We are the Senate Liberal caucus and I will remain the leader of the opposition and we will remain the official opposition in the Senate... [We] will not need to be concerned any more about the real or perceived direction from the national Liberal caucus."

In other words, a group of Liberals who also happen to be Senators will still meet to discuss Senate business from a Liberal perspective. They'll just have another title for their group.

If Trudeau's move was actually about stopping Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government, all Trudeau has done is made the Conservative caucus the only caucus in the Senate, now completely free to function as it wishes without an organized Liberal Opposition or Liberal caucus. Or whatever they want to call themselves.

So what is this move really about? What would really prompt such a sudden, drastic firing of all 32 Liberal Senators?

Could it be the impending auditor general's report? The one where he plans to "name names" in demonstrating whose expenses are in order, and whose are not?

As of February 4, all 32 Liberal Party of Canada Senators are still listed on the Parliament of Canada website as Liberal Party of Canada Senators. Also as of February 4, the Liberal Party of Canada's website has removed the expense reports of all those Liberal Senators.

Trudeau's abolition of Liberal Senators (or Senate Liberals?) accomplished absolutely nothing.

CORRECTION: This blog was initially published with a statement that the idea to kick all Senators from the Liberal caucus came from professor Emmett Macfarlane and Matthew Mendelsohn. According to Macfarlane, the idea to kick the Senators from caucus was already a formulated idea, and his only role was to advise on the potential constitutional concerns of a number of potential Senate reforms.