Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appoints six new senators from Ontario

by | Oct 31, 2016 | News

Federal Liberal Party leadership candidate Justin Trudeau takes part in the final leadership debate in Montreal, Quebec, March 23, 2013. The Liberals will vote for a new leader in April. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

Federal Liberal Party leadership candidate Justin Trudeau takes part in the final leadership debate in Montreal, Quebec, March 23, 2013. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

By: Hunter Crowther

The first female OPP commissioner, a former Ontario civil servant and a former executive at Scotiabank are among the latest appointees to the Senate.

The appointments follow Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s continuing campaign to reform the Senate.

“I am pleased today to put forward six exceptional candidates as new Senators representing Ontario,” Trudeau said in a statement released Monday morning.

This brings the number of new senate appointments to 15 in the last two weeks. All appointees were selected through an application process that included over 2,700 applicants who were screened by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments, who came up with a short list for each seat.

“These men and women were selected using the Government’s new merit-based system, a real example of democracy in action that will contribute to a more modern and independent Upper Chamber,” said the prime minister.

See list and biographies of appointees below.

Controversy engulfed the Canadian Senate in 2012 as several senators were investigated by the RCMP. Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy, Mac Harb and Pamela Wallin claimed travel and living allowance expenses from the Senate for which they were not eligible.

Harb retired a few months after the scandal broke. After a year-long independent examination, Brazeau, Duffy and Wallin were suspended without pay. Charges against Brazeau and Harb were dropped, while none were laid against Wallin.

Last April, Duffy was acquitted on all charges.

Nelson Wiseman, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, says the prime minister’s appointees “look perfectly good to me.” But Senate reform was an easy talking point during the 2015 federal campaign.

“At that time, the Senate was very unpopular, so they thought ‘okay how do we make a splash here,’ and they certainly did by throwing their old senators out of the caucus,” said Wiseman. “We had a lot of partisan appointments…but people have to apply now,”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne released a statement following the announcement, praising Trudeau’s selections.

“They all have outstanding records of service across several sectors of society and represent many different walks of life. I am confident that they will bring their vast expertise to the table to serve the best interests of people across this province,” Wynne said.

Wiseman says Canadians should be patient with what becomes of the Senate.

“It’s an experiment, we don’t know where it’s going to go, neither the government nor the senators nor the public knows how this will evolve. We shall see,” said Wiseman.

The six new appointees include:

Gwen Boniface

  • first woman to run the Ontario Provincial Police
  • served as Commissioner on the Law Commission of Canada for five years
  • served on Board of Governors of the Law Commissions of Ontario from 2011 to 2014
  • appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2001 in recognition of work with province and First Nations
  • received the United Nations Peacekeeping Medal
  • emigrated to Canada from the United Kingdom

Tony Dean

  • Professor at the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto
  • served as a senior bureaucrat in the Ontario government
  • appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2009 for his work transforming the Ontario Public Service

Sarabjit S. Marwah

  • former Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer at Scotiabank
  • emigrated from India
  • founding member of the Sikh Foundation of Canada

Lucie Moncion

  • President and CEO of the Alliance des Caisses Populaires de l’Ontario, a network of credit unions that serve Ontario Francophone communities

Kim Pate

  • Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS)
  • worked for several years with the John Joward Societies
  • currently on the advisory board of the National Women’s Legal Mentoring Program, Human Rights International’s Canadian Advocacy Committee, and Legal Aid Ontario’s Prison Advisory Committee
  • appointed to the Order of Canada in 2015

Howard Wetston

  • currently counsel with Goodmans LLP
  • Professor of law at the University of Toronto
  • led the Ontario Securities Commission, Ontario Energy Board, Competition Bureau
  • served as Vice Chair of the Board of the International Organization of Securities Commissions
  • former Federal Court judge
  • Crown counsel with the Department of Justice
  • member of the Order of Canada