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PM appoints seven new senators, many with Tory ties

The Senate chamber sits empty in Ottawa on Jan. 17, 2011.

CHRIS WATTIE/Chris Wattie/Reuters

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has further assured the allegiance of the Red Chamber with the naming of seven new senators, many of them with strong ties to his Conservative Party.

The group includes a former Conservative MP, a failed Conservative candidate and a Conservative organizer. Also included is Betty Unger, who ran unsuccessfully for the Canadian Alliance and placed second in a Senate election in her home province of Alberta in 2004.

"I look forward to working with these talented individuals in Parliament," Mr. Harper said in a news release issued late on Friday afternoon when the appointments were made public.

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Mr. Harper came to office in 2006 vowing not to appoint unelected senators. But he reversed that position in late 2008, naming 18 people, most of them known for their service to the Conservative Party.

Charlie Angus, the NDP critic for democratic reform, whose party would like the Senate abolished, said it is clear that Mr. Harper is intent on filling the Chamber with Tory partisans. "It seems the only qualification to get a job in Ottawa is to have flipped pancakes at Conservative fundraisers," he said.

Daniel Lauzon, a spokesman for the federal Liberals, said appointments announced late on a Friday afternoon speak for themselves, and that the backgrounds of the appointees demonstrate that they are intensely partisan.

All new senators have pledged to support legislation to limit term lengths and encourage the provinces and territories to hold elections for Senate nominees. They are:

JoAnne Buth in Manitoba. Ms. Buth is president of the Canola Council of Canada, a group that has received millions of dollars from the federal Conservative government.

Norman Doyle in Newfoundland. Mr. Doyle entered federal politics as a Progressive Conservative MP in 1997. He served in Newfoundland's House of Assembly from 1979 to 1993, holding several cabinet portfolios.

Ghislain Maltais in Quebec. Mr. Maltais worked as a contractor for the Conservative Party of Canada from 2006 to 2007, and has been the director of the Conservative Party in Quebec since 2009.

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Asha Seth in Ontario. Dr. Seth is an obstetrician and gynecologist in Toronto and is best known for her philanthropic endeavours. She founded the NIMDAC Foundation, which has raised funds for organizations such as the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Betty Unger in Alberta. Ms. Unger has been a "senator-in-waiting" since 2004, when she placed second in an election to Bert Brown, who was appointed to the Senate in 2007. She was a candidate for the Canadian Alliance in Edmonton West in the federal election of 2000, but lost to Liberal cabinet minister Anne McLellan.

Vernon White in Ontario. Mr. White has been the Chief of Police in Ottawa since May, 2007. He has also been head of the Regional Police Service in Durham, Ont., and spent more than 20 years with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, leaving as an assistant commissioner.

Jean-Guy Dagenais in Quebec. Mr. Dagenais was the Conservative candidate in the riding of Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot in last year's federal election. He worked as a peace officer from 1972 to 1996 at the Sûreté du Québec. His appointment will take effect after he clears up some legal formalities, the Prime Minister's Office said.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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