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Premier Jason Kenney fuming after feds appoint Alberta senator

Premier Jason Kenney said Trudeau showed contempt for democracy in Alberta by appointing a hand-picked representative in advance of the elections this October.
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Former Banff mayor Karen Sorensen was appointed to the Senate on July 29, 2021. PHOTO/Town of Banff

St. Albertans vying for a Senate seat still have the opportunity to run despite an unexpected appointment by the federal government for one of the two Alberta seats.

On July 29, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the new Governor General, Mary Simon, appointed five independent senators, including Karen Sorensen, for Alberta.

“I am pleased to welcome Parliament’s newest independent senators. Their combined experience, perspectives, and dedication to serving Canadians will further strengthen the Senate and help shape our country’s future,” said Trudeau in a press release.

Not everyone was happy with the Senate appointment.

Premier Jason Kenney said Trudeau showed contempt for democracy in Alberta by appointing a hand-picked representative in advance of the elections and flippantly disregarded the province’s demands for a fair deal in the Canadian federation.

“The prime minister knows full well that Alberta will be holding elections for Senate nominees in October of this year. I personally informed him of our forthcoming Senate elections at our July 7 meeting in Calgary, and told him that the Alberta legislature had adopted a motion calling on the prime minister not to fill the two current Senate vacancies, but to wait for Albertans to choose their own preferred Senate candidates,” said Kenney in a July 29 press statement.

Kenney cited elected Sen. Scott Tannas and Sen. Doug Black in their role in defending Alberta by fighting the No More Pipeline’s law (Bill C-69) and the tanker ban (Bill C-48).

“It is essential that senators have a mandate from Albertans to ensure that they actually defend our vital economic interests,” Kenney stated.

Senators are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the prime minister, as per the Canadian Constitution.

The prime minister is given recommendations by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments, which was created in 2016. An individual can apply or nominate a Canadian through the Government of Canada website. The board, which is non-partisan, transparent, and guided by the public, chooses candidates on merit-based criteria.

The appointment of Sorensen leaves one seat available for Albertans to presumably fill after the Oct. 18 Senate elections.

Sorensen resigned from her third term as Banff mayor after being appointed to the Senate. Before becoming mayor, she served as a municipal councillor for six years and a school board trustee for four years. Prior to that, she had a 17-year career in the hotel industry.

“I am humbled and incredibly honored to be appointed to the Canadian Senate. After 17 years being privileged to serve the people of Banff, I am exhilarated to have this amazing opportunity in service to Canada,” said Sorensen in a press statement.

Sorensen has been an active community member throughout her years with the Town of Banff. She served on many boards at the municipal level and has won awards such as the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and the YWCA Banff 2019 Woman of Distinction Award. She was also named the Alberta Centennial Ambassador in 2005.

“It is a tremendous responsibility to be asked to represent the Province of Alberta at the federal level and I look forward to working hard to give voice to the diversity of groups that make up our nation,” she said.

The other four appointments to the Senate include David Arnot, for Saskatchewan, Michèle Audette, for Québec, Amina Gerba, for Québec, and Clément Gignac, for Québec.

Albertans have until Sept. 20 to complete the nomination process to become a Senate candidate. Information can be found on the Elections Alberta website.

About the Author: Jessica Nelson

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