Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Wednesday that he is appointing Alberta's "senator in waiting," Bert Brown, as the first elected senator in nearly 20 years.

Harper told the House of Commonson Wednesday that he would name Brown to the upper chamber.

Brown, a longtime champion of Senate reform, took the most votes in Alberta's third Senate election in 2004.

Since 1989, the provincial government has been holding Senate elections and creating a list of "senators in waiting" as part of the provincial Conservatives' push to have what it calls a "Triple E Senate," with the Es standing for "equal, elected, and effective."

The electionswere held in the hopes the winners would be appointed to vacant Senate seats by the federal government.

But since senatorial candidates were added to the ballot, only one elected senator, Stan Waters in 1990, has been named to the chamber. That was done by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Brown, a farmer from Kathyrn, Alta., once plowed the message "Triple E Senate or Else" into his neighbour's barley field.

When Alberta decided to hold its own Senate elections, Brown ran in three such races and won twice, but the federal government never appointed him to the Senate.

Brown will fill the vacancy left by veteran Liberal Senator Dan Hays, who announced Tuesday that he intends to retire by the end of June.

With files from the Canadian Press