Trudeau Senate appointees include aboriginal judge, Paralympian, ex-NDPer, journalist

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed 7 new senators today who will sit as independents. His pick for senators include Manitoba's first aboriginal judge, a Paralympic gold medallist, and a former provincial NDP cabinet minister.

Trudeau appoints 7 Senators to form a more 'independent, non-partisan' upper chamber

Four women were among the seven people appointed to the Senate to sit as independents by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (S. Kilpatrick, M. Cassese, R. Walker and A. Wyld for Canadian Press, Reuters and Ryerson University)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today the appointment of seven new senators who will sit as independents to represent the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.

The appointments are the first in three years and the result of a new selection process established by Trudeau's Liberals in a bid to transform the scandal-plagued Senate into a more "independent, non-partisan" institution.

The announcement comes in anticipation of new government legislation that will require the Senate's approval after the Trudeau government tables its first federal budget on March 22.

Trudeau's pick of four women and three men includes Manitoba's first aboriginal judge, a Paralympic gold medallist, a former provincial NDP cabinet minister, and a journalist.

The new senators were picked from a pool of candidates on the recommendation of an "independent" advisory board selected three months ago by the Trudeau government to advise the prime minister in a concerted effort to make the upper chamber less partisan.

Trudeau made an unprecedented decision in 2014 when he expelled every Liberal senator from his party's caucus, leaving them to sit as independents.

The 105-seat Senate includes 42 Conservative senators, 26 ex-Liberals, and 20 independents which include today's appointments. 

The seven appointments brings the total number of vacancies down to 17.

Meet your new 7 senators:

1. Peter Harder (Ont.)

Trudeau appointed Peter Harder as the government's representative in the Senate to work with Liberal House Leader Dominic Leblanc to ensure legislation gets tabled through the Senate.

Harder, who managed the Liberal transition to government, will be sworn in as a privy councillor allowing him to sit in on cabinet meetings when necessary.

He spent 29 years in the federal public service, including 16 years as a deputy minister and four years as the personal representative of the prime minister to three G8 Summits.

Peter Harder on representing the government in the Senate

8 years ago
Duration 8:02
Featured VideoSenate appointee Peter Hander discusses his role as government representative and how he will balance that with the goal of a non-partisan Senate.

2. Justice Murray Sinclair (Man.)

He was the first aboriginal judge appointed in Manitoba and only the second in Canada. He was the chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated the legacy of the residential school system and delivered a landmark report in 2015.

Justice Murray Sinclair speaks during the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report in Ottawa, Canada, December 15, 2015. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

3. Chantal Peticlerc (Que.)

She has won over 20 medals for Canada in the sport of wheelchair racing, beginning at the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona. She is chef de mission for Canada's team at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Chantal Petitclerc tweeted that she was 'feeling humbled' on Friday. (Fred Chartrand/CP)

4. Raymonde Gagné (MB)

She has worked in education for over 35 years. She served as president of Université de Saint-Boniface from 2003 to 2014. She was responsible for the college obtaining full university status and has been honoured for increasing the range of educational opportunities available in French in Manitoba.

Gov. Gen. David Johnston presents the Order of Canada to Raymonde Gagné during an investiture ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa in 2015. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

5. Frances Lankin (Ont.)

Most recently, Lankin spent 10 years running the United Way in Toronto, taking that job after years as an NDP cabinet minister and MPP in Ontario. From 2009 to 2016, she was a member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the oversight body for the country's security agencies.

Frances Lankin, seen at Rideau Hall in 2013, served as CEO of United Way Toronto for years. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

6. Ratna Omidvar (Ont.)

Recognized globally for her contributions to increasing the inclusion of immigrants, she is currently the founding executive director of a think tank at Ryerson University's school of management that focuses on diversity, migration and inclusion. She is the chair of Lifeline Syria, which seeks to bring 1,000 privately sponsored Syrian refugees to Toronto. She also serves on the boards of the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction, The Environics Institute, and Samara.

Lifeline Syria's Chair Ratna Omidvar, centre left, is seen working with colleagues at the organization's offices in Toronto in 2015. (Chris Young/CP)

7. André Pratte (Que.)

Author and journalist, he spent 14 years as editor-in-chief of the Quebec daily paper La Presse. He is one of the founders of a Quebec think tank on federalism.

Journalist and author André Pratte autographs copies of the book 'Reconquérir Le Canada' (Reconquering Canada), a new pro-federalist collection of essays, at the launch in Montreal in 2007. (Ryan Remiorz/CP)

Bios compiled by The Canadian Press.

Click here for a photogallery of the new Trudeau-appointed senators

With files from The Canadian Press