5 News Faces in Canada’s Red Chamber: A Show Of Diversity and Inclusion

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces appointments of five new members to the Senate

By Maryam Razzaq

Karen Sorenson will represent Alberta, David Arnot will represent Saskatchewan and Michèle Audette, Amina Gerba and Clément Gignac will represent Quebec in the Canadian Senate. Based on the advice of the Prime Minister, the Governor-General appoints Senators to the Red Chamber. According to a press release from Prime Minister Trudeau’s office, all of the five senators appointed will sit as independents. 

“All new Senators were recommended by the Independent Advisory Board and chosen using a merit-based process open to all Canadians. This process ensures Senators are independent, reflect Canada’s diversity, and can tackle the broad range of challenges and opportunities facing the country.” As per a recent media release

With a total of 105 seats in the Senate, the new five appointments will reduce the vacant seats to 10. 

Who Are The Newly Appointed Senators?

Karen Sorensen was the mayor of Banff, Alberta for 17 years and resigned as mayor following her appointment as Senator. She has been involved in local politics for years, including working 4 years as a school board trustee, 6 years as a town councillor and 17 years of experience in the hotel industry. 

David Arnot is the chief commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission since 2009. He has worked in the federal Department of Justice and has experience as a judge on the provincial court and a senior Crown prosecutor in Saskatchewan. 

Michèle Audette is from the Innu community of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam in Quebec. She served as the president of the Women’s Association of Canada from 2012-2015. Further to this, she was one of the five commissioners on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Amina Gerba is an entrepreneur who has worked to form economic and business links between Africa and Canada. Not only is she the founder of several businesses, but she is also a member of the Canadian Council on Africa and the African Business Roundtable.

Clément Gignac is an economist who worked in the federal Department of Finance as a special advisor to the deputy minister from 2008-09. From 2009-2012, as a Liberal member of Quebec’s National Assembly, she served in the provincial cabinet and minister of natural resources and wildlife and minister of economic development, innovation, and export trade.

“I am pleased to welcome Parliament’s newest independent Senators. Their combined experience perspectives and dedication to serving Canadians will further strengthen the Senate and help shape our country’s future. I look forward to working with them, and all senates, as we take steps toward our recovery and to building back a more resilient and inclusive Canada for everyone,” said Prime Minister Trudeau in a statement.

Not everyone is happy with the announcement of Canada’s five newest Senators. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney intended to ask Trudeau to appoint the Top 2 names for the upcoming municipal ballots this October to the two vacant Alberta senate seats. With Sorensen’s appointment, only one seat remains open for Alberta. 

“The prime minister knows full well that Alberta will be holding elections for Senate nominees in October of this year. I personally informed him of our forthcoming Senate elections at our July 7 meeting in Calgary and told him that the Alberta legislature had adopted a motion calling on the Prime Minister not to fill the two current Senate vacancies but to wait for Albertans to choose their own preferred Senate candidates. The Prime Minister’s decision shows contempt for democratic decision-making, and for Alberta voters in particular,” Kenney said.

Premier Kenney is fully aware of the powers of the Prime Minister’s office to fill vacant Senate seats. With the latest decision by his United Conservative Party (UCP) government to remove life-saving measures to combat COVID-19, Kenney used the appointment of the new Senators to deflect some of the heat he is facing that decision. 

As Alberta’s COVID-19 case continue to spiral, calls for Kenney’s resignation grow louder. The UPC Minister of Health has gone as far as say the decision to remove Alberta’s COVID-19 restrictions was that of the provinces top doctor, a far cry from several months ago. 

One thing is certain, Kenney’s UPC government is in big trouble and he can not rely on appointments from the federal government to continue to change the political narrative in the media. 

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