Prime minister announces new senators for Yukon, Northwest Territories

After being vacant for over a year, the Yukon and Northwest Territories' Senate seats have been filled, as the Prime Minister's Office announced Margaret Dawn Anderson and Pat Duncan will sit in the upper chamber.

Pat Duncan and Margaret Dawn Anderson part of newest contingent of Senate appointments

Pat Duncan, left, and Margaret Dawn Anderson were named as the new senators for Yukon and the Northwest Territories on Wednesday. (Office of the Prime Minister)

After being vacant for over a year, the Yukon and Northwest Territories' Senate seats have been filled, as the Prime Minister's Office announced Margaret Dawn Anderson and Pat Duncan will sit in the upper chamber.

Margaret Dawn Anderson, the new senator for the Northwest Territories, has been a long-time public servant with the territorial government, working in the justice and health and social services department, notably as the director of community justice and policing.

She was involved in the development of the N.W.T.'s wellness court program, as well as the Planning Action Responsibly Toward Non-violent Empowered Relationships (PARTNER) project, aimed at domestic violence offenders.

Anderson, who is Inuvialuit, recently completed a Masters degree in Indigenous governance and worked as a policy intern with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, participating in self-government negotiations.

"I'm very pleased that we have an Aboriginal female senator ... especially an Inuvialuit Senator," said Premier Bob McLeod.

"Looking forward to working with her, as a senator can make a big difference for us and in Ottawa."

Pat Duncan, Yukon's new senator, is no stranger to politics. A former MLA, she was elected as the territory's first female premier in 2000. She was also the first Liberal to be elected premier of the territory.

Duncan has represented the territory on the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, chaired Whitehorse's environmental health board, and been the Yukon's commissioner of the Girl Guides of Canada. In 2002, she was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for her work in public service.

Duncan has also been heavily involved in volunteering in the sport community, working with both the Canada Summer and Winter Games and serving as president and treasurer of Whitehorse's Glacier Bears swim club.

The Northwest Territories and Yukon are each represented by only a single Senate seat. Yukon's seat has been vacant since the summer of 2017 after the retirement of Daniel Lang, and the Northwest Territories' seat was vacated later that year with the retirement of Nick Sibbeston.

Like all of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Senate appointments to date, both Duncan and Anderson will sit as independents.

Duncan was a special assistant in the 1980s to Progressive Conservative Yukon MP Erik Nielsen and then later served as a Liberal in the Yukon Legislature.

She said she'll enter the Senate with no party allegiance. She said she appreciates her appointment as an independent — and says Trudeau emphasized that, when he called to offer her the job.

"Also of course, having heard from a number of Yukoners from all political stripes this morning, I think that also emphasizes the non-partisan nature of this appointment," she said Wednesday afternoon.

Duncan and Anderson were appointed Wednesday morning as part of a series of four appointments, including new senators in Nova Scotia and Ontario.

According to a news release, the four appointments bring the Senate up to a full complement of 105 senators for the first time in eight years.

Senators examine and revise legislation, investigate national issues, and represent regional, territorial, and minority interests, according to a news release from the Prime Minister's Office.

With files from Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi


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