The controversial appointment of an unelected Conservative organizer to the Senate has been confirmed.
Upon the recommendation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Michael Fortier, a Montreal financier and organizer the Conservative Party, has been summoned to the Senate by Governor-General Michäelle Jean.
His appointment is effective immediately.
Mr. Fortier's Senate seat comes amid controversy after the Tories campaigned during the federal election on implementing reforms that would see an elected senate.
Earlier this month, Mr. Fortier was announced as the new Public Works Minister -- one of two big surprises in the Harper cabinet, the other being the appointment of David Emerson as International Trade Minister after he defected from the Liberals.
Having not been elected or even run for office in the Jan. 23 federal election, Mr. Fortier needed a Senate appointment in order to sit as a minister in Mr. Harper's cabinet.
Currently, senators are appointed by the prime minister of the day and keep the job until they are 75. Mr. Harper and his Conservative colleagues have argued for reforms that would see Canadians vote on who would sit on the Senate. Mr. Fortier has said he'll resign his Senate seat as soon as he can seek election as a member of Parliament.
Steven MacKinnon, director of the Liberal Party, said it's an 'abomination' to have an unelected senator in charge of a $40-billion portfolio, particularly because Mr. Fortier won't be held accountable in the House.
"Mr. Harper has therefore broken two promises: one in which he committed to senate elections, the second one to being open and transparent," Mr. MacKinnon said.
Despite being unelected, Mr. Fortier has a long history in politics, running unsuccessfully as candidate in 2000, before co-chairing Mr. Harper's leadership bid for the Conservative party in 2003. During the last federal election, he was co-chair of the Tories' national campaign.
Alberta premier Ralph Klein said Monday Mr. Harper promised during a meeting with the premiers last week to discuss the possibility of senatorial elections this fall. But, Mr. Harper's office refused to discuss the issue in any detail, opting instead to reiterate its promise to proceed with an elected Senate in the near future.
There are currently five openings on the senate, two from Ontario and one each from Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
Alberta is the only province that has elected senators. It has held elections since 1989, with the last vote in 2004 costing Albertans $2.9-million.