For the third time, Stephen Harper has appointed a candidate chosen by Albertans to the Senate – a reminder to supporters that the Conservatives still have reforming the red chamber in their sights.
The Prime Minister filled five Senate vacancies on Friday, and tapped Doug Black for the Alberta seat.
Mr. Black, a Calgary lawyer who ran as a Progressive Conservative in Alberta’s 2012 senate nominee election, placed first out of 13 candidates last April with more than 428,700 votes. He’s also a former heavyweight in his province’s PC party, and came under fire from a taxpayers’ group for expenses incurred while serving on the University of Calgary’s board of governors.
In 2012, Canadian Lawyer Magazine named Mr. Black one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada.
Mr. Harper, who has called on provinces to hold their own elections for Senate seats, previously appointed two other Albertans chosen by ballot to serve in the Upper Chamber: Bert Brown, appointed in 2007, and Betty Unger, appointed in January, 2012.
The Conservative government’s Senate reform bill, introduced more than a year and seven months ago, has yet to make it past second reading. C-7 calls for nine-year term limits on senators appointed after the election of October, 2008, and proposes a “voluntary framework” for provinces to select nominees. Back in 2011, senators within the Tory caucus reportedly balked at the plan.
The Prime Minister’s Office said on Friday that Mr. Harper is determined to push ahead. “The government remains wholly committed to the reforms it has proposed for the Senate,” said Andrew MacDougall, director of communications for the PMO.
A second senator selected on Friday is Denise Batters of Saskatchewan. She is the wife of former Tory MP Dave Batters, who died by suicide in 2009. Mr. Harper eulogized Mr. Batters at his funeral, discussing how the former MP struggled with severe depression.
A lawyer and mental-health advocate, Ms. Batters most recently served as executive director of regulatory affairs for the Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan.
A third new face is Lynn Beyak, who is from northwestern Ontario and has run for office under the provincial Progressive Conservative banner in the province. She’s chaired the Ontario Parent Council and served on the board of directors of the Trillium Foundation, a leading grant-making organization that funds everything from arts to social services.
A fourth appointee is Mississauga businessman Victor Oh, president of Wyford Holdings, a property development and management business, and founding chairman of the Canada-China Business Communication Council.
The fifth new senator is David Wells of St. John’s.
He most recently served as deputy CEO of the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. Mr. Wells has three decades of experience in international business and government and regulatory affairs.
The Newfoundlander is also a high-altitude alpine mountaineer, according to the Prime Minister’s Office, and has climbed in the Himalayas, Andes and the Russian Caucasus.
“I look forward to working with these talented individuals in Parliament,” Mr. Harper said in a statement. “Their collective experience and dedication are most welcome as our government continues to work on addressing the needs and expectations of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.”
The Senate has 105 seats.