Liberal senator fed up with PM, crosses floor
Chris Cobb
The Ottawa Citizen

June 9, 2004

CREDIT: Julie Oliver, The Ottawa Citizen
Liberal Senator Anne Cools said her 'profound' disappointment with Paul Martin made her quit.

Outspoken Liberal Senator Anne Cools says she has decided to cross the floor of the Red Chamber to sit with the Conservatives, saying the Liberal caucus "has no room for debate, diversity or difference of opinion."

"My disappointment in Mr. Martin is very profound," said the former social worker, who was appointed to the Senate 20 years ago by then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

Ms. Cools, 60, said she became disillusioned with the Liberals during the Chretien era and was expecting better from Paul Martin.

"I saw Mr. Martin bringing a fresh approach," she said in an interview yesterday. "I really believed he would bring renewal and a regeneration of Liberal principles.

"I feel abandoned by the Liberal party. I cannot defend what has been going on."

During most of the Chretien era, Ms. Cools was an outspoken advocate for changes to the Divorce Act and an overhaul of the family court system, which she says is damaging to children, heavily biased against men and responsible for pushing too many divorced and separated fathers into bankruptcy.

Despite years of study and promises of reform, the changes she sought were never implemented.

Ms. Cools, who until a few days ago had a Liberal sign on her front lawn, said she finds it impossible to defend her party over the sponsorship scandal and is particularly incensed by what she sees as Mr. Martin's inaction on the federal gun registry program, which she opposed from its inception.

Ms. Cools has not yet spoken to Conservative leader Stephen Harper about her decision, but says she chose to resign now rather than be accused of opportunism should the Tories win the election on June 28.

 The Ottawa Citizen 2004