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Senator alleges racism in caucus (The Ottawa Citizen)

The Ottawa Citizen
29 March 2001

Tim Naumetz

Senator alleges racism in caucus: Liberal Cools says she's even been called 'black bitch' by colleagues

Liberal Senator Anne Cools has shaken her party with a dramatic claim that she has been the victim of racist treatment within the Liberal caucus, to the point of being called a "black bitch" by some of her colleagues.

Ms. Cools suggested in a recent Senate speech that the Liberal caucus hierarchy has excluded her from promotion and kept her off Senate committees because of her race.

In a subsequent interview this week, Ms. Cools waded into the ongoing controversy over Secretary of State Hedy Fry's allegation of cross-burnings in British Columbia.

She called the claim "nonsense" and said it has probably hurt race relations in the country.


Ms. Cools, who became the first black senator in Canada when the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau appointed her in 1984, told the Senate she has experienced "unbridled brutishness" within the Liberal caucus. She said all party caucuses use secrecy in the name of party discipline to shield ruthless treatment.

"Party caucuses employ many techniques of injury and maltreatment," said Ms. Cools, well known as a party renegade who has often been a thorn in the side of Liberal governments. "These (treatments) include humiliating, discrediting, thwarting, undermining, embarrassing, maligning, isolating, deceiving, spitefulness and other negative tools."

Ms. Cools made the comments earlier this month while recapping for the Senate a February speech she delivered to a Canadian Bar Association dinner in Toronto to mark Black History Month in Canada.