Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Senate point men have tendered their resignations. Senator Peter Harder, the Government’s Representative in the upper chamber, and Government Liaison Senator Grant Mitchell made the announcement Friday.
“The start of a new Parliament is the best time to welcome a new face in the role of Government Representative,” Harder said in a statement.
“With the Senate now well advanced on the path to becoming more independent and less partisan… it simply made sense for me to pick this moment: a new cabinet has been sworn in, new Senate groups are emerging along non-partisan lines.”
According to Harder, his term as the Senate’s government rep will expire on Dec. 31, 2019 while Senator Mitchell said he would remain in his liaison role, previously called Government Whip, until Trudeau finds a replacement for Harder.
“Serving in this role has truly been a highlight of my career. It has been a privilege to have been so directly involved with Prime Minister Trudeau’s initiative to create a more independent Senate,” said Mitchell.
For nearly 150 years, senators were appointed by the sitting prime minister, and for the most part showed unbroken partisan loyalty to their caucuses. But that all changed in April 2014 when Trudeau cut existing Liberal appointees in the Upper Chamber from the national caucus.
The decision has factionalized the Senate with both Senate Conservatives and Liberal castaways coalescing in various groups, including the Independent Senators Group and a pair of nascent upstarts; the Canadian Senators Group and Progressive Senators Group.
Harder, who is a “non-affiliated” senator entered the upper chamber in April 2016, as the first “independent” appointed senator under a purportedly, non-partisan selection process. Mitchell was appointed to the Senate in 2005 by Prime Minister Paul Martin.
Known as the “chamber of sober second thought”, the Senate is intended to provide regional oversight for government bills as well as the power to introduce laws unrelated to spending.