Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen appointed to Senate

Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen has been appointed to the Senate, the Prime Minister’s Office announced Thursday.

New independent senator among 5 appointees to upper chamber

Karen Sorensen, who has served as mayor of Banff since 2010, has been appointed to represent Alberta in the Senate. (CBC)

Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen has been appointed to the Senate, the Prime Minister's Office announced Thursday.

"I am humbled and incredibly honoured to be appointed to the Canadian Senate. After 17 years being privileged to serve the people of Banff, I am exhilarated to have this amazing opportunity in service to Canada," Sorensen said in a release that also announced her resignation as mayor in order to take up the federal role.

Sorensen was first elected to Banff town council in 2004. She served six years as a councillor and the past 11 years as the mayor. She has spent her working career as a leader in the hospitality industry.

Her appointment to the upper house was among five vacancies filled across the country, including three Quebec seats and one for Saskatchewan.

"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," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a release.

The other four appointments made to the Senate by Governor General Mary Simon are:

  • David Arnot, for Saskatchewan.
  • Michèle Audette, for Québec.
  • Amina Gerba, for Québec.
  • Clément Gignac, for Québec.

The senators were recommended by the independent advisory board for Senate appointments, and chosen using a merit-based process open to all Canadians, the government said.

Premier Jason Kenney criticized Sorensen's appointment, noting the province plans to hold a vote for Senate nominees as part of provincewide municipal elections in the fall.

The Senate elections are not legally binding but Alberta has carried out numerous such votes in the past. Although the prime minister is under no obligation to appoint the winners of these elections to the Senate, several senators from Alberta have been appointed this way. 

"Today, Prime Minister Trudeau showed contempt for democracy in Alberta by appointing a hand-picked representative of Alberta to the Senate of Canada in advance of our province's Senate elections," Kenney said in a written statement.

"Alberta's tradition of electing Senate nominees goes back to the 1980s. We have had four Senate elections in the past, and five nominees to the Senate selected by Albertans in these elections went on to be appointed and to represent Albertans in Parliament democratically."


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