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Maryam Monsef Minister of Democratic Institutions responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The federal government spent $170,000 to find the first seven independent senators appointed under a new system developed by the Trudeau government.

In a report released on Tuesday, the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments said that it canvassed more than 400 organizations across the country to come up with a shortlist of potential candidates for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The groups that were consulted were diverse, representing everyone from linguistic, ethnic and sexual minorities to labour and business interests.

"These consultations were undertaken to ensure that a diverse slate of individuals, with a variety of backgrounds, skills, knowledge and experience that could contribute to a well-functioning Senate, were nominated for the consideration of the advisory board," the report said.

The budget of $170,000 covered the operations of the advisory board from mid-January to March, with the money spent mostly on travel and personnel. The members of the board received per diems in the range of $375 to $650 for their work. A total of nine people worked at various points on the board.

Overall, the advisory board received 284 formal applications to fill seven vacancies in the Senate. For each vacancy, the board presented five different candidates, in alphabetical order, from which Mr. Trudeau made the final selection.

The applications featured a nearly even mix of women (49 per cent) and men (51 per cent), with 16 per cent of the candidates who were members of visible minorities, 10 per cent who were indigenous and 4 per cent who were people with a disability.

The board made its recommendations to the Prime Minister based on criteria such as "gender, diversity, language, age, civic involvement and professional background, as well as a candidate's ability to contribute to the work of the Senate in a non-partisan fashion," the report said.

Using the board's shortlist, the Prime Minister appointed the head of his transition team, Peter Harder, to be his government's representative in the Senate. He also appointed six new senators who will be expected to study and vote on legislation in an independent fashion: journalist André Pratte, retired judge Murray Sinclair, former Ontario NDP minister Frances Lankin, athlete Chantal Petitclerc, academic Raymonde Gagné and diversity expert Ratna Omidvar.

The advisory board is chaired by Huguette Labelle, a former senior federal bureaucrat. All discussions involved two permanent members, as well two members from each province that had vacancies to fill.

The board held three in-person meetings in Ottawa, as well as a number of teleconferences to set up the process and evaluate the various candidacies.

The board is now working on a formal process to fill the 17 remaining vacancies in the Senate, and all future openings.

"The permanent process will require some investments for elements such as information technology and dedicated secretariat resources that will be detailed in future reports," the board said.

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