Justin Trudeau reportedly ‘furious’ at Senators using the Liberal brand

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Justin Trudeau is a little peeved at the senators he removed from the national Liberal caucus on Wednesday morning.

Literally minutes after Trudeau said "there are no more Liberal senators" the supposedly independent senators rebranded themselves as the Liberal Senate caucus.

Then, they went on to tell reporters that they were still Liberal senators.

"I’m still a Liberal senator, not independent, Sen. Mobina Jaffer said, according to the Globe and Mail.

"We all are members of the Liberal Party of Canada, and we’re all senators, so we’re Liberal senators," Senator Joseph Day said.

The confusion resulted in this gem of a line in Parliament.

"I gather the change announced by the leader today is that unelected Liberal senators will become unelected senators who happen to be Liberal," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said during Question Period.

"In fact, his leader in the Senate said the following in response to his announcement: 'I'm not a former Liberal. I'm a Liberal and I'm a Liberal senator'. He also said, 'I suspect that not a great deal will change'. That has to be the understatement of the year."

[ Related: Justin Trudeau removes Senators from Liberal caucus ]

The Senators' comments certainly seem to contradict Trudeau's announcement. If the Senate Liberal caucus becomes the Liberal Senate caucus does anything really change?

According to Canadian Press, Trudeau's advisers didn't expect that to happen.

"[Trudeau's advisers were] unpleasantly surprised when the senators decided to reconstitute themselves as the Senate Liberal caucus and to continue designating themselves as Liberal senators — a move that contradicted Trudeau's assertion that there are "no more Liberal senators" and gave fodder to rival parties to dismiss his move as a meaningless gimmick.

They were even more surprised, and angered, when Senate Speaker Noel Kinsella agreed to recognize the 32 as Liberals. Kinsella's decision flies in the face of convention, Trudeau's advisers maintain, noting that whenever a senator has been expelled from caucus in the past, they have been forced to sit as independents."

Global News' Tom Clark might have the best explanation of why the senators chose to reorganize.

"Money is a key reason. Why's that? A senator gets paid $135,000 a year. If you're the leader of the opposition of the Senate add $36,000 on to that paycheque," Clark said during that network's national newscast.

"But guess what, if there's no official opposition, you don't get the dough.

"I'm told that Justin Trudeau is personally furious...at those Liberal senators who are trying to form this new Liberal caucus."

[ Related: The road taken by Justin Trudeau to his Senate reform decision ]

Other people that wouldn't be getting 'the dough' as independents would be the opposition deputy leader (an extra $23,100), the opposition whip (an extra $6,600), the opposition deputy whip (an extra $3,100) and the opposition caucus chair (an extra $5,600).

In this case, it pays to be Liberal.

(Photo courtesy of the Canadian Press)

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