Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced the appointment of five new members of the Senate.
Michle Audette, Amina Gerba and Clment Gignac will represent Quebec in the Red House. David Arnot will represent Saskatchewan and Karen Sorensen will represent Alberta.
Governor Generalappoints senators on the advice of the prime minister. The five senators will sit as independents, according to a press release from the Office of the Prime Minister.
“All new senators were recommended by the Independent Advisory Board on Senate Appointments and were elected using a merit-based process open to all Canadians,” the statement said. “This process ensures that Senators are independent, reflect Canada’s diversity, and be able to address the wide range of challenges and opportunities facing the country.”
There are 105 seats in the Senate. These five appointments are below the number of vacancies up to 10.
New faces in the Red Room
Audette, who is from the Innu community of Washat mak Mani-Utenam in Quebec, was president of the Indigenous Women’s Association of Canada from 2012-15.
She was also an offshore commissioner in the National Inquiry into Missing and Killed Countries Women and Girls and also made an unsuccessful election for the Liberals in the 2015 federal election in the Montreal area of Terrebonne.
In an interview with CBC Montreal, Audettesaid she wanted to become a senator since she visited parliament when she was 28 and president of Quebec local women.
“It started there. I said, ‘If they have a little or a lot of power to change or reject a change, or add something to improve our quality of life, I want to go there,'” she said.
Audettesaid expects to bring to her role her passion for politics and indigenous issues.
“Dearsht dear to me, to be a woman, to be an autochthonous woman … Here I was born and it is something I do every day justice, equality, what can we do more to improve,” she said.
“I’m a fighter in a good way. I do not give up easily.”
Gignac was a Liberal member of the Quebec National Assembly from 2009-12 and served in the provincial cabinet as Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, as well as Minister of Natural Resources and Wildlife. An economist, Gignacalso worked in the Federal Department of Finance as a special adviser to the deputy minister during the 2008-09 recession.
Gerba, a Cameroonian-born entrepreneur, has worked to establish business and economic ties between Canada and Africa. She has established a number of businesses and is a member of the Canadian Council for Africa and the African Business Roundtable. Its companies that sell personal care products employ thousands of women in Africa.
Commissioner Arnotis, chair of the Human Rights Commission, a position he has held since 2009. He has also worked as a senior Crown Prosecutor in Saskatchewan and as a judge in the provincial court. He has worked in the Federal Department of Justice in a number of roles, including special adviser to the Deputy Minister of Justice.
Sorensen is the mayor of Banff, Alta. And he has had a long career in local politics. She has been a municipal councilor and school board administrator, and has worked in the hotel industry.
“I am humbled and deeply honored to have been appointed to the Canadian Senate. After 17 years of being privileged to serve the people of Banff, I am thrilled to have this amazing opportunity in the service of Canada,” Sorensen told a press release.
She resigned from her post as chairwoman after the appointment, according to the announcement.
Prime Minister Alberta Kenney unhappy with appointment
In a statement, Alberta Prime Minister Jason Kenney criticized the appointment in Alberta. His government had planned to run to elect the provincial Senate candidates in October.
Alberta has appointed senators based on past elections, including current senators Doug Black and Scott Tannas.
“I personally informed [Trudeau]of our next Senate election at our July 7 meeting in Calgary and told him that the Alberta legislature had approved a motion urging the Prime Minister not to fill the two vacant Senate seats, but to wait for the Albertans to choose for themselves their favorite Senate candidates, “he said in a statement to the media.
“Sadly, the Prime Minister’s decision to dip his nose into Alberta’s democratic tradition is part of a model of rapidly ignoring our province’s demands for a just agreement in the Canadian federation and Albertans’s desire for democratic accountability.”
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