Senator Anne Cools: Independent

Senator Anne Cools, who was appointed to the Senate in 1984 on the recommendation of then Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau eventually became increasingly critical of the federal Liberals and crossed the floor to the Conservative party in 2004. Now the Conservative’s have kicked her out of caucus for voting against the government’s budget and criticizing Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Cools will now sit in the Senate as an independent.

Sitting as an independent somehow seems a fit for the Senator. She has never followed the pary line but has lobbied and voted according to what she thinks is right.

When the federal Liberals were pushing through Bill C-68, the Federal Firearms Act, Senator Cools spoke against it. Firearms owners were amazed to find a female Liberal Senator supporting their arguments. Not only did she speak against it, but she had done the research and had the facts and figures as well.

The Senator said, in part:

During the Senate committee hearings on Bill C-68, the Manitoba Attorney General, the Honourable Rosemary Vodrey, testified. I asked her:  I should just like to know how many wives were killed by husbands in your province last year by firearms, and how many children in your province alone?   She replied:  I can just tell you women on homicides by firearms. I gather the figure is zero.  Ms Vodrey gave more detail. She said:   The statistics I have are for 1994, and they relate to deaths due to domestic violence: Three by stabbing; three by strangulation; two by beating; one by asphyxiation; none by firearms.  Honourable senators, it is no simple task to identify the actual and precise number of women killed by spouses using firearms. I have studied this question using Statistics Canada’s published data on homicides. In 1994, the actual number of women killed with firearms by conjugal intimates was 23. I repeat: The precise number of women killed by spouses using firearms was 23.  Statistics Canada defines “conjugal intimates” as including spouses -legal, common-law, separated, divorced – boyfriends, extramarital lovers or estranged lovers. Neither feminist groups nor the Minister of Justice have placed the number of 23 on the table in this debate. I am unsympathetic to the act of toying with or exaggerating the true numbers.

It’s a pity that political parties in Canada are unable to accept criticism from their caucus members and that all members are expected to toe the party line. Senator Cools is obviously one whose conscience does not allow her to follow that path.  I am sure that she will continue to stir the pot sitting as an Independent.


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