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Governor General David Johnston prepares to deliver the Speech from the Throne in the Senate chamber on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Dec. 4, 2015.CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

Dream of being a senator? The government is ready to hear from you.

"The Senate application process is now open. Apply online," says the invitation posted Thursday on the government website.

There have always been ways for individuals — usually higher-profile ones, or those with a long history in partisan politics — to let a government know they are interested in joining the Upper Chamber, but never so directly.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to replace the old system of patronage with a new merit-based appointments process overseen by an independent advisory board.

On Thursday, that board opened up the application process to anyone who thinks they might be a good fit for one of the 20 current and upcoming vacancies in seven provinces.

Applicants from British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island are invited to submit their curriculum vitae, three reference letters and a form consenting to a background check to

The deadline to apply is Aug. 4.

Seven independent senators — including the government's representative, Sen. Peter Harder — were named through the first phase of the process in March.

The advisory board reviewed the applications of 284 people nominated by non-government organizations, charities, academic institutions, labour groups, indigenous communities, business groups and other organizations.

The advisory board also welcomed eight new members to help judge which names should make it to the top of the list.

They are:

  • Anne Giardini, the chancellor of Simon Fraser University;
  • Vikram Vij, a chef and entrepreneur who was also on the CBC reality television series Dragons’ Den;
  • Roxanne Tarjan, who has served with a number of nursing profession organizations;
  • Donald Savoie, a professor at the University of Moncton and an expert on Canadian public policy and administration;
  • Jennifer Gillivan, the president and CEO of the IWK Health Centre Foundation;
  • Ramona Lumpkin, president and vice-chancellor of Mount Saint Vincent University;
  • Chief Brian Francis of the Abegweit First Nation in P.E.I.;
  • Jeannette Arsenault, an entrepreneur and co-owner of Cavendish Figurines Ltd. in P.E.I.