Canada's Original Think Tank

Senate Appointment Process

Senate Appointment Process

Senate Appointment Process

Hon. Percy E. Downe: 

Obviously, colleagues, the Prime Minister’s appointment system has gone downhill ever since Marjory LeBreton left. We will look for a rebound at some point. Half of the people wouldn’t know who that was, but anyway, we’ll carry on.

I want to thank Senator Harder. It was mere weeks ago that I raised concerns about the Senate appointment process, the nomination process, the time frame and when people could apply. All of that apparently was cleaned up last week. I read on the website that the appointment process is now very clear.

It was, again, just mere weeks ago that I raised concerns about representation in the Senate and that we didn’t have any fishermen or fisherwomen, any farmers or any veterans.

I’m delighted to see the new Senator Black here, and only those from rural Canada would recognize the significance of the tie he wore today, indicating his rural roots. He is a tremendous new appointment to the chamber.

Obviously, one is not enough. There are many more vacancies to fill.

I checked the Senate website. I note that we currently have 18 lawyers, which is a good thing. I want to footnote that. The Speaker himself is a lawyer. Their legal training is very helpful in working through legislation. We have 13 professors, a dozen businessmen and women, journalists, chartered accountants, nurses, teachers and so on, but again, we’re missing some very important voices.

We have done very well with representation. Forty-five per cent of senators are women compared to only 27 per cent of members of the House of Commons, but the other forms of diversity need to be addressed, including those from the primary industries, including farming, fishing, agriculture and agri-food and those who wore the uniform of the Canadian Forces in the service of their nation.

Particularly with veterans, I would urge the government to consider people with the rank of colonel and below. Almost all of our issues with veterans and their families are of the lower ranks. Those who are colonels and above seem to be well taken care of by the current system. We never hear any complaints from them. We hear massive complaints at the other end. I think that’s another area the government could consider.

Given Senator Harder’s success at addressing my earlier concerns, I wonder if you can pass these concerns on. We look forward to a resolution within the next few weeks or days.

Senator Harder: Senator, I welcome your comments and I hope I can have an equally timely effect. I did note, though, that you didn’t reference the fact that we have only one chief of staff to a Prime Minister here, and that too would be a deficiency, I would have thought.