Quebec senator leaving Conservative caucus but says he will remain a member of party

A Quebec senator is leaving the Conservative caucus to join the Canadian Senators Group (CSG), but will remain a member of the Conservative party.

Sen. Larry Smith’s switch to the CSG was first announced via the group’s official Twitter account and later confirmed by Smith’s office on Thursday.

Smith’s departure from the Conservative caucus comes as the party is set to choose its new leader in September. The Quebec senator has endorsed the province’s former premier Jean Charest for the Tory leadership.

Financial returns made public by Elections Canada earlier this week show that Charest’s chief rival in the leadership race, Pierre Poilievre,¬†raised just over $4 million during the second quarter of the year, while Charest raised almost $1.4 million over the same period.

Smith’s office denied his departure from the Conservative caucus was related to the leadership race. “His decision was entirely personal,” a statement from Smith’s office said.

Even though he will no longer sit as a Conservative senator, Smith’s office said he will remain a member of the party.

Smith was appointed to the senate by prime minister Stephen Harper, first in 2010 before leaving the red chamber to launch an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the House of Commons in the 2011 election. Harper reappointed him later in 2011.

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