More than 2,700 Canadians applied to be senators

The independent board that advised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a recent round of Senate appointments says 2,757 people applied to be senators when the Liberal government went looking to fill vacancies for seven provinces.

60% of applicants were male, 25% identified as the member of a visible minority

New Manitoba Senator Marilou McPhedran, centre, stands with Senator Peter Harder, left, and Senator Murray Sinclair before being sworn in during a ceremony in the Senate on Nov. 16. More than 2,700 Canadians applied to join the red chamber during the last round of appointments. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

The independent board that advised Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a recent round of Senate appointments says 2,757 people applied to be senators when the Liberal government went looking to fill vacancies for seven provinces.

Canadians were invited to apply when nominations were opened in July to fill 21 spots in the upper chamber. The independent advisory board that reviewed the applications is part of Trudeau's plan to reform the Senate.

According to the advisory board's first report, 60 per cent of applicants were male and 68 per cent selected English as their first language.

Twenty-five per cent identified as a visible minority, 13.6 per cent described themselves as indigenous and four per cent as LGBT.

"We were very pleased with the number of applications received, as well as with the calibre of individuals who put their names forward as part of the open application process," the board writes.

The board says that "nearly 750 national, provincial and local organizations" were also contacted to encourage applications.

Applicants were screened by board members to identify "a list of priority candidates who ... best met the merit-based criteria." The prime minister was then provided with a list of five candidates for each of 20 vacancies, with additional names passed along to fill an unexpected opening for Manitoba.

"Recommended candidates were not prioritized; the proposed candidates were listed in alphabetical order," the board explains. "The advice to the prime minister included a short synopsis to highlight the merits of each of the recommended candidates, as well as more detailed information from their candidacy submission."

The board also clarifies that the prime minister's choices for appointment came from their recommendations.

"We were very pleased that the prime minister made his recommendations to the Governor General from the list of candidates that we had provided to him," they write.

The total cost for the advisory process so far is estimated to be approximately $900,000.

Maryam Monsef, minister of democratic institutions, also announced on Wednesday that the federal government has opened applications to fill another six vacancies: three in Nova Scotia, two in Ontario and one in New Brunswick.

According to the advisory board's report, previous applicants who are eligible will be asked whether they wish to remain under consideration.