PM taps Smith, Meredith for Senate
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has named former CFL commissioner Larry Smith and Toronto clergyman Don Meredith as his party's new senators, giving the Conservatives a majority in the Red Chamber.
Smith's appointment will fill a vacancy in Quebec, while Meredith will take a seat left vacant by a retirement in Ontario.
Meredith is the co-founder of GTA Faith Alliance, a faith-based group in the Greater Toronto Area dedicated to finding solutions to youth violence. He also ran as a replacement Conservative candidate against Liberal MP Bob Rae in a byelection for the Ontario riding of Toronto Centre in 2008.
Smith also served as president of the Montreal Alouettes after retiring as a player.
In a statement on Monday, Harper praised the pair as "well-regarded and visible figures in their communities" who will bring a "wealth of experience" in business, philanthropy, sport and community initiatives to the Senate.
The prime minister said the two have also pledged to support the government in its efforts to make the Senate more democratic and accountable, including supporting legislation to limit Senate tenure and to allow provinces to elect their senators.
The Conservatives now have 54 seats in the upper chamber, and the Liberals 46. Two others are independent, and two represent the old Progressive Conservative Party.
Former Liberal senator Raymond Lavigne, who was expelled from the party's caucus in 2006 amid allegations of misuse of Senate funds for personal use, is barred from attending chamber proceedings and participating in committee hearings. His criminal trial for fraud over $5,000, breach of trust and obstruction of justice has been delayed until January.