Alberta Premier Jason Kenney denounced the federal government Thursday for filing one of the province's two vacant senate seats ahead of the province’s October Senate elections.
"Today, Prime Minister Trudeau showed contempt for democracy in Alberta by appointing a hand-picked representative of Alberta to the Senate of Canada in advance of our province’s Senate elections," read the premier's statement.
"The Prime Minister knows full well that Alberta will be holding elections for Senate nominees in October of this year."
The premier said he informed him of Alberta's forthcoming Senate elections at their July 7 meeting in Calgary. He told him that the Alberta legislature had adopted a motion calling on the prime minister not to fill the two current Senate vacancies but to wait for Albertans to choose their preferred Senate candidates.
"I am pleased to welcome Parliament’s newest independent Senators," said Trudeau in a statement: "Their combined experience, perspectives, and dedication to serving Canadians will further strengthen the Senate and help shape our country’s future. I look forward to working with them and all senators as we take steps toward our recovery and to building back a more resilient and inclusive Canada for everyone.”
Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen was one of five people named independent Senators by Governor General Mary Simon on Thursday, reported CTV News. Three of the five senate selections came from Quebec.
"Alberta’s tradition of electing Senate nominees goes back to the 1980s," said Kenney. "We have had four Senate elections in the past, and five nominees to the Senate selected by Albertans in these elections went on to be appointed and to represent Albertans in Parliament democratically." In 2016, candidate submissions were reviewed by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments and provided recommendations to the prime minister.
Despite the upsetting ploy by the federal government, Kenney maintained that the Senate was a forum to represent regional interests and vital to the federation. He also made clear that senators have a mandate from Albertans to defend their vital economic interests.
He cited elected Senator Scott Tannas and Senator Doug Black. They protected Alberta from federal intrusion into its exclusive constitutional jurisdiction to develop its resources by fighting the 'No More Pipeline’s law' (Bill C-69) and the 'tanker ban' (Bill C-48).
"Sadly, the Prime Minister’s decision to snub his nose at Alberta’s democratic tradition is part of a pattern of flippantly disregarding our province’s demands for a fair deal in the Canadian federation and the desire of Albertans for democratic accountability," he added.
Who fills the remaining vacant Senate seat in Alberta would be a question asked of residents on municipal ballots this October. Albertans would see a list of Senate candidates on the ballot and choose who they appointed in Alberta, with the top three candidates being forwarded to the prime minister.
Kenney intended to ask Trudeau to appoint the top two senate candidates to the province's then two vacant Senate seats. The third would be held in reserve for the following retirement opening. However, Sorensen’s appointment now leaves one seat empty in Alberta.
Erika Barootes, Enterprise's Vice President of Western Canada and former United Conservative executive and president, said she was disappointed to see Trudeau once again ignore the will of Albertans.
She attributed the blindside to the Trudeau Liberals not wanting to be "held to account" in the Senate "by an independent voice with an actual mandate from the people they represent." Barootes, who is also vying for a seat in the Alberta Senate, said today's decision would only make her "work even harder for Albertans" and "fight to remind them that Ottawa cannot ignore us."
"I look forward to continuing my campaign and earning the trust of Albertans from across our province – something the Trudeau Liberals have never bothered to do," she concluded.