Politics

Trudeau names journalist, Indigenous activist and diplomat to the Senate

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed three new independent senators to the Red Chamber: a journalist, an Indigenous activist and a diplomat.

'These three new independent senators bring a wealth of experience with them to the Red Chamber'

Peter Boehm, deputy minister for the G7 Summit and personal representative of the prime minister, is one of three new senators elevated to the Red Chamber by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau through Governor General Julie Payette. (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named three new independent senators to the Red Chamber: a journalist, an Indigenous activist and a diplomat.

"These three new independent senators bring a wealth of experience with them to the Red Chamber," Trudeau said in a media statement.

"Whether working as a community educator and researcher, a journalist, or an ambassador, all three have gained a deep appreciation and understanding of this country. I have full confidence that they will be excellent representatives for their regions and for all Canadians."

Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons, who won the National Newspaper Award for column writing in 2017, will sit as a senator from Alberta. 

Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal accepts the award for columns at the National Newspaper Award ceremony in Toronto in May. (Galit Rodan/Canadian Press)

Patti LaBoucane-Benson, also from Alberta, has "dedicated her life to helping Indigenous families" and working to improve "opportunities for vulnerable youth" in her province, says a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.

The third new face in the Senate will be Peter Boehm, a career diplomat who most recently served as the deputy minister for the G7 Summit and personal representative for Trudeau.

All three were recommended by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments. Trudeau then passed on those recommendations to Governor General Julie Payette, who will formally appoint the new picks. 

Trudeau has made 43 Senate appointments since his election.

Like the other Trudeau appointees, each of the new picks is expected to sit as an Independent or non-affiliated senator — part of the prime minister's stated campaign to eliminate partisanship from the chamber over time.

The Independent Senators Group (ISG) now constitutes the largest bloc in the Senate and holds a plurality with 47 seats, followed by 31 Conservative senators and 11 Liberals.

There are still 10 senators that identify as Liberal, even though Trudeau brought official Senate affiliation with his party to an end while still in opposition. There are also eight non-affiliated senators and six empty seats.

Author and Indigenous activist Patti LaBoucane-Benson with her book The Outside Circle, which won the 2016 Burt Award. (CBC)

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