Politics

Two new senators from Ontario named to upper chamber

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named two new senators to the Red Chamber. Martha Deacon and Robert Black will represent Ontario.

Martha Deacon and Robert Black are expected to serve as Independents

(Canadian Olympic Committee/Rob Black)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named two new senators to sit as members of the upper chamber as his government's push to rid the chamber of partisan appointees continues.

Martha Deacon and Robert Black will represent Ontario in the Senate.

According to the prime minister's office, Deacon served Team Canada as an apprentice coach at a number of past Olympic and Commonwealth games, and was named Canada's Chef de Mission for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India.

Deacon is a past recipient of the International Olympic Committee Education and Youth Award and the Jules Nisse "Playground to Podium" award. She has also been inducted into the Cambridge Sports Hall of Fame.

She is a long-serving educator in the Waterloo region, as both a classroom teacher and in other positions with the school board. She currently serves on the Canadian Olympic Committee's board of directors.

Black is described as a "distinguished leader in Ontario's agricultural community."

A long-time resident of Wellington County, an area in southwestern Ontario, Black currently serves as the chief executive officer of the Ontario Rural Institute, a group focused on mentoring community leaders in Ontario's rural and northern communities.

Unlike many of Trudeau's recent picks for the Senate, Black is no stranger to electoral politics. He has served as a councillor on the Wellington County Council since 2014. True to his rural roots, Black volunteers with 4-H Canada and is a board member for the Ontario Agricultural Hall of Fame.

The Governor General has already appointed Black and Deacon to fill vacancies in the Senate, said Trudeau's office.

"I am delighted to welcome these accomplished Ontarians to the Senate. I am confident that Parliament will benefit from Ms. Deacon and Mr. Black's knowledge and experience, and that they will be great ambassadors for their region and communities," Trudeau said in a statement to reporters.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne welcomed the appointments.

"The Senate plays a valuable role as a chamber of sober second thought. I wish Ontario's appointees well, and I am confident that the best interests of Ontario will be represented in the Senate," she said.

Deacon and Black expected to sit as Independents

With these two appointments, Trudeau has named 32 senators to the Red Chamber. Deacon and Black are expected to sit as Independents, as all of the prime minister's other appointments have opted to do thus far.

The Independent Senators Group (ISG) has a plurality in the Senate with 41 seats, followed closely by 33 Conservative senators and 12 Liberals. As of today, there are still 12 vacancies to be filled in the 105-member body.

The new additions also bring the Red Chamber closer to gender parity, as about 46 per cent of senators (45 of 96) will be women. Calls for gender balance in the Senate came shortly after Trudeau unveiled a cabinet with an equal number of women and men.

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