Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the appointment of nine new independent senators Thursday, further bolstering the number of non-affiliated members in the upper chamber.
These appointments fill existing vacancies in B.C., Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. There are still 12 empty seats — six each for Ontario and Quebec — and those are expected to be filled very soon.
The senators will be formally sworn-in at a later date. They only learned Wednesday evening that they had been picked to sit in the upper house.
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After Thursday’s announcement, the number of non-affiliated (or Independent) senators will rise to 32. There are 21 Liberals and 40 Conservatives. After the next round of appointments, Independents will make up the largest number of senators.
Here’s a look at Canada’s newest senators.
Yuen Pau Woo
Malaysian-born Yuen Pau Woo is a former president of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and currently senior fellow in public policy at the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia.
Manitoba art historian Patricia Bovey is an adjunct professor at the University of Winnipeg and a former director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery. She also sat on the board of trustees of the National Gallery of Canada and the board of the Canada Council for the Arts.
Lawyer and human rights activist Marilou McPhedran is co-leader of the Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women on the Constitution, a grassroots movement in the early 1980s that successfully campaigned for stronger equality rights provisions in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
She is also currently a professor at the University of Winnipeg’s Global College.
Winnipeg psychiatrist Harvey Chochinov is an internationally recognized expert in palliative care.
The previous Harper government appointed Chochinov to chair an external panel that consulted Canadians on possible legislative options following the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling striking down the ban on medically-assisted dying.
His appointment to that panel was controversial because Chochinov had argued in court against legalizing assisted dying.
New Brunswick francophone René Cormier is president of the Société Nationale de l’Acadie, the lead organization for the international promotion of Acadian artists.
He was formerly president of Commission internationale du théâtre francophone, director of the Théâtre populaire d’Acadie, president of the Fédération culturelle Canadienne-française and a board member of the Canadian Conference of the Arts.
Nancy Hartling was executive director of Support to Single Parents Inc., an organization she founded 34 years ago in Moncton, N.B. to offer resources, workshops and referrals for single parents and their children. Hartling announced in April the agency would close its doors with her retirement in June.
Nova Scotia social worker and educator Wanda Thomas Bernard is the first African-Canadian to hold a tenure-track position — and to be promoted to full professor — at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
She is also a founding member of the Association of Black Social Workers and the current chair of the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
“I was absolutely shocked to get a call from the prime minister’s office,” Bernard told CBC Nova Scotia. “I know hundreds of people applied and so to have been selected amongst, I’m sure, (what) were a very qualified group of people — it’s very humbling. I also feel very grateful. I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve our country.”
Daniel Christmas has served in various leadership positions in the Mi’kmaw Nation of Nova Scotia.
Christmas was recently appointed a member of the Premier’s Council on the Economy. He is also a member of the Board of Directors with Nova Scotia Business Inc.
He is credited with playing a key role in transforming his home community from a First Nation on the brink of bankruptcy to one of the most successful in Canada. He is also the former director of advisory services for the Union of Nova Scotia Indians.
Diane Griffin is the former provincial deputy minister of environmental resources and a recipient of the Governor General’s Conservation award. She is currently a councilor on Stratford, P.E.I.’s town council.