Justin Trudeau invites 3 Manitobans to join non-partisan Senate

One of three Manitobans named to the Senate, palliative care expert Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov, says he hopes to continue his research while serving in the Red Chamber.

Harvey Chochinov, Patricia Bovey and Marilou McPhedran among 9 Senate nominees

Manitobans Harvey Chochinov, left, Patricia Bovey and Marilou McPhedran are among nine new, non-partisan senators who are expected to be appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday. (Canadian Press, University of Winnipeg, Canadian Press, Ken Faught/Toronto Star via Getty)

One of three Manitobans named to the Senate says he hopes to continue his health-care research while serving in the Red Chamber.

Dr. Harvey Max Chochinov, an internationally recognized expert in palliative care, is one of three Manitobans — nine Canadians in all — who are nominated as non-affiliated senators, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday.

"I feel honoured to be considered to serve in the Senate by the prime minister," Chochinov told CBC News after the nomination was announced.

"It's an opportunity to serve Manitobans and to serve all Canadians, and one that I very much look forward to."

Also appointed to the Senate are Manitoba art historian Patricia Bovey and Marilou McPhedran, a lawyer and human rights activist who is currently a professor at the University of Winnipeg's Global College.

Chochinov is a distinguished professor of psychiatry at the University of Manitoba and director of the Manitoba Palliative Care Research Unit at CancerCare Manitoba, and he holds the Canada Research Chair in Palliative Care, among other roles. He was named an officer of the Order of Canada last year.

"My expectation is that while I will obviously have to rearrange my schedule and there'll be some juggling to do, my hope is that the work will continue on, that I'll continue to have a hand in the ongoing research," he said.
Three Manitobans are going to the Senate. Dr. Harvey Chochinov, Patricia Bovey and Marilou McPhedran are among nine Canadians nominated as non-partisan senators. 1:59

Bovey is a former curator and director at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and a former member of the board of trustees of the National Gallery of Canada and the board of the Canada Council for the Arts. She is also past chair of the University of Manitoba board of governors.

"It's a very, very real honour to be able to work with and for Canadians in this way. I feel very humbled. It's a huge responsibility and I'm very excited," Bovey said.

She added that her experience in the arts will follow into her new role. 

"I think arts and culture and education are increasingly important as we as a civil society work with the concerns and the issues before us," Bovey said. 

Both Bovey and Chochinov said they are not politically affiliated with any political party.

Bovey was married to former Manitoba lieutenant governor John Harvard who was also a long time Liberal MP.

"We met after he had left, retired from his public life so I was never part of his political life," Bovey said.

"I know in my heart that my appointment was made because of the work, the 45 years of experience I have had in Canada's arts and cultural community."

McPhedran is a co-leader of the Ad Hoc Committee of Canadian Women on the Constitution, a grassroots movement that successfully campaigned for stronger equality rights provisions in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the early 1980s.

She is also a former member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal and a former chief commissioner of the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission.

According to public records McPhedran has made a number of small donations over the years to the federal liberal party and the NDP. CBC was not able to reach McPhedran on Thursday for a comment about her nomination to the senate.

The University of Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba issued statements on Thursday congratulating the Senate appointees and highlighting their university ties.

Less partisanship involved, says analyst

The nominees, who come from across the country, are among the first to be chosen under an arm's-length process that saw more than 2,700 Canadians apply to fill the 21 vacancies in the Senate.

"There's far less partisanship involved in the new process than there used to be," said Paul Thomas, professor emeritus of political studies at the University of Manitoba.

None of the appointees stands out as having been chosen, for example, for raising money for a political party or running as a candidate, he said.

Thomas added that some of the nine appointees may have some kind of political connection, but that should not necessarily rule them out as Senate contenders.

"Just because at some time, particularly if it's been in the distant past, you had some involvement with a political party, [it] shouldn't disqualify you completely and automatically from being considered for a Senate position," he said.

"Many people are sort of mild in their association with a particular party; it may be at a much lower level, in support of a friend who's running for public office. There are lots of reasons why at some point in your life you might have taken out a party membership. So partisanship shouldn't disqualify you completely."

Chochinov said he's received a flurry of congratulatory phone calls since his nomination was made public, including one from fellow Manitoban Murray Sinclair, who was selected by a non-partisan advisory board earlier this year.

"Senator Murray Sinclair called me and wished me congratulations and gave me some of the inside insights about the Senate and the transition that's required … that I'm in for an extraordinary experience," he said.

With files from Meaghan Ketcheson, Nelly Gonzalez and The Canadian Press