New Senate Speaker Nolin seeks to put non-partisan stamp on the position | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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New Senate Speaker Nolin seeks to put non-partisan stamp on the position

Quebec Sen. Pierre Claude Nolin sits in the Senate chamber in Ottawa, Thursday Nov.27, 2014 after being named the new Speaker of the Senate. The new Speaker of the Senate is signalling his intent to put a firmly non-partisan, collaborative stamp on the position, a move welcomed by the chamber as an auditor general's report into their expenses looms.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
January 29, 2015 - 1:30 AM

OTTAWA - The new Speaker of the Senate is signalling his intent to put a firmly non-partisan, collaborative stamp on the position, a move welcomed by the chamber as an auditor general's report into their expenses looms.

Pierre-Claude Nolin held a two-hour, closed-door meeting Tuesday with senators of all stripes to seek their input on how he should conduct himself.

Senators who were at the meeting said Nolin mused about whether he should attend Conservative caucus meetings, and committed himself to being the impartial promoter of the entire institution.

That message resonated with many senators, who are concerned with the ongoing probe into their expenses being conducted by the auditor general. Some worry that the auditor general's office doesn't have a good grasp of the work of the Senate.

Michael Ferguson's report is expected sometime in the spring.

Independent Sen. Elaine McCoy said she was encouraged by the approach expressed by Nolin.

"One would expect some suggestions from the auditor general, but one would hope that they are sufficiently considered, coming from a base of knowledge," said McCoy.

"Certainly the initial questioning, and the manner in which the auditor general even approached the task, indicated a complete lack of understanding of the role."

Nolin is a Conservative senator from Quebec with deep roots in the Progressive Conservative part of the family. But he's also been one of the most independent-minded senators, sometimes taking different positions from the rest of the Conservative caucus in the past.

Nolin noted during the meeting that he is a loyal party member, and contributes financially every year. But he also said he wants to represent all of the senators and work collaboratively. Last year, he put forward a motion to strike a committee to look at modernizing the Senate, and is keen to examine all aspects of the chamber's operations.

Conservative Sen. Michael MacDonald said he's supportive of any bid to bring positive, forward-thinking change to the institution.

"He wants to put his stamp on the office. I understand that," MacDonald said of Nolin.

"I think he wants to reassure Canadians that the Senate is a valuable institution and does valuable work, and I certainly support that."

Reflections on the role of the Senate have gathered steam since the height of the expenses scandal, which embroiled four prominent senators and subjected the upper chamber to an unprecented level of public scrutiny.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau made a decision last year to eject senators from the party caucus.

Liberal Sen. Pierrette Ringette has a motion before the Senate for a separate committee that would look at reducing partisanship in the upper house.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2015
The Canadian Press

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