Justin Trudeau names 6 new senators from Quebec, as Independents become largest bloc

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has filled all vacancies in the Senate, with six appointments in Quebec. The new, Independent senators include lawyers, public servants and a medical doctor.

Lawyers, public servants and a medical doctor among latest group of appointees

Three of Trudeau's new appointments to the Senate from Quebec: Raymonde Saint Germain, left, senior public servant and ombudsperson for Quebec, Éric Forest, mayor of Rimouski​, former chair of the Union of Quebec Municipalities, centre, and Renée Dupuis, author and lawyer specializing in Indigenous law.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has filled all remaining vacancies in the Senate with six new appointments from Quebec, meaning Independents now have a plurality in the Red Chamber for the first time in the country's history.

Trudeau has appointed 20 per cent of all sitting senators in only a matter of months, after former prime minister Stephen Harper let vacancies accumulate while the chamber was rocked by scandal and police investigations.

The current count of non-affiliated (or Independent) senators stands at 44. There are 21 independent Senate Liberals and 40 Conservatives.

While non-affiliated senators will soon formally have more members than those from the partisan caucuses, they have so far been shut out of key positions of power.

Some have said they have had trouble getting seats on committees, and their research budgets remain constrained because they are not part of a formally recognized grouping.

Each Independent senator has a research budget of only $7,000, while members of the Senate Liberal caucus have $1.06 million, which translates into roughly $50,000 for each of their 21 senators.

Senator Peter Harder, the government's representative in the Senate, has said this disparity must be corrected to ensure the equity of all sitting senators.

In January 2014, at the height of the Mike Duffy expenses fiasco, Trudeau expelled all senators from the national Liberal caucus and vowed to appoint Independent members to the Senate if elected as prime minister.

Thus, all of the new senators were selected using the government's new application, merit-based process.

They are:

Renée Dupuis

A lawyer and writer, Renée Dupuis specializes in the fields of administrative law, human rights, and Indigenous law, according to the biography sent out by the prime minister's office.

She has been a legal adviser and consultant for First Nations and their regional and national organizations in negotiating tripartite comprehensive land claims and in constitutional negotiations.

She chaired the Indian Specific Claims Commission, a federal commission of inquiry, and the Barreau du Québec's committee on the rights of Aboriginal peoples.

She received the 2001 Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction for her book Justice for Canada's Aboriginal Peoples.

Raymonde Saint Germain

Longtime senior public servant and ombudsperson for Quebec.

Saint Germain has served as the assistant deputy minister of International Relations, deputy minister of government services, deputy minister of citizenship and immigration, and Éditrice officielle du Québec.

Saint-Germain was unanimously reappointed as ombudsperson by the members of Quebec's National Assembly in June 2011, for a second consecutive five-year term of office.

As ombudsperson, she has commented on over 125 bills and draft regulations, from the perspective of respect for human rights and freedoms, with particular attention paid to mental health, the rights of incarcerated persons, independent investigations of police incidents resulting in serious injury or death of civilians

She served as vice-chair (2009-2013) and chair (2013-2015) of the Association des ombudsmans et médiateurs de la francophonie.

Éric Forest

Mayor of Rimouski​, former chair of the Union of Quebec Municipalities.

After spending some time in the business community, as the co-owner and vice-president of a car dealership, Éric Forest returned to politics in 1994, as a councillor with the City of Rimouski, before becoming mayor. From 1995 to 2005, he was vice-president and director general of the Océanic hockey club.

He became mayor of Rimouski in 2005 and chaired the Union of Quebec Municipalities (UMQ) for almost four years, from 2010 to 2014, at a time when scandals rocked the confidence of Quebecers in their municipal elected officials — including allegations of corruption, sexual misconduct and fraud.

In 2014, he received the Jean-Paul L'Allier Award, which honours a Quebec elected official for outstanding vision, leadership and achievements in urban planning and land use planning.

Marc Gold

Marc Gold is a constitutional law expert who has held major leadership roles in the Jewish community at the local, national and international levels, including being Chair of Jewish Federations of Canada.

He also served for ten years as the chair of Ensemble pour le respect de la diversité (formerly the Tolerance Foundation), a not-for-profit organization that works with young people to build a more open and inclusive society and currently reaches more than 25,000 young people annually in schools throughout Quebec and Canada.

Gold served on the board of directors and was chair of the tenure and promotions committee of the Université de Montréal for sixteen years, and upon the end of his mandate in June 2016, was named administrateur émérite in recognition of his service to the university.

He currently serves as a part-time member of the Parole Board of Canada and is an adjunct professor of law at McGill University.

Marie-Françoise Mégie

Dr. Marie-Françoise Mégie arrived in Quebec in 1976, from Haiti, and rose through the ranks of the medical profession and university teaching, becoming a clinical associate professor in the department of family medicine at the Université de Montréal.

Her medical practice includes providing home health care services for seniors, persons with severe disabilities and end-of-life patients.

She is a member of a number of professional associations, has chaired the Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad, and currently chairs the Association Médecins Francophones du Canada.

Rosa Galvez

Originally from Peru, Rosa Galvez has spent more than 32 years in Canada and has become a leading expert in the field of environmental pollution and pollution control.

Her expertise carries across many environmental problems affecting human health, including water pollution, waste and residues, contaminated lands, and the impact of economic activities such as mining or petroleum transport.

As an expert she has offered opinions to international government bodies such as the Commission for Environmental Co-operation (supporting the North American Agreement on Environmental Co-operation), and Canada-U.S. and Quebec-Vermont agreements for protecting the Great Lakes, and the St. Lawrence River.

She has been a professor at Laval University since 1994 in the civil and water engineering department and has been head of this department since 2010.

Before that, she was research associate at the Geotechnical Research Centre at McGill.