Betty Kennedy appointed to Senate

Prime Minister Jean Chretien appointed veteran broadcaster Betty Kennedy and Quebec businessman Raymond Setlakwe to the Senate Tuesday.

Kennedy, a well known author, is remembered for her role as a panelist on the CBC Television show Front Page Challenge. She was also a popular personality for years on a Toronto radio station.

Kennedy is 74 and Setlakwe is 71. That means neither will spend that long in the red chamber since the mandatory retirement age for senators is 75.

When asked about appointing older people to the Senate, Chretien defended his decision saying they both brought a great deal of experience to the job.

"As they're not going to be there for long, they're taking it very, very seriously," he said.

Chretien also argued that it was good that they weren't going to make a career out of their new positions in the Senate.

Setlakwe is president and CEO of A. Setlakwe Ltd., a retail chain with 17 stores and boutiques in Quebec.

The appointments strengthen the Liberal majority in the Senate. There are now 59 Liberals in the Senate and 40 Conservatives. Five senators sit as independents.

That should help as it prepares to vote on the clarity bill, the federal government's referendum legislation which would set tough ground rules for any future separation referendum in Quebec.