Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ended a three-year moratorium on new Senate appointments Friday by naming seven people to the upper chamber.
Three of the seven will represent Ontario. Here’s a short primer on who those three Ontarians are and the experience they will bring to their new responsibilities.
Harder will act as the Liberal government’s representative in the Senate, making him responsible for shepherding the government’s legislative agenda there. Harder earned praise as the head of Trudeau’s transition team in the fall, and brings decades of senior-level bureaucratic experience to the job. He was deputy minister in a number of government departments: Treasury Board, Solicitor General, Citizenship and Immigration, Industry, and Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He has been president of the Canada-China Business Council since 2008, and is a senior policy advisor to the Dentons Canada law firm. While clearly comfortable working with Liberal politicians, Harder was a Progressive Conservative political staffer under prime ministers Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney.
An MPP from 1990 to 2001, Lankin held senior cabinet positions in the Ontario NDP government of Bob Rae. She served as minister of government services, chair of management board, minister of health and minister of economic development and trade. Following her time at Queen’s Park, Lankin was president and CEO of the United Way Toronto for 10 years. She is chair of the Ontario Press Council and serves on the board of Ontario Lottery and Gaming. Before accepting her Senate appointment, Lankin was also part of a regular panel of former MPPs that discussed Ontario politics on TVO’s The Agenda.
Arriving in Canada as a refugee from Iran in 1981, Omidvar has a long history exploring issues of migration, diversity and inclusion. She is the founding executive director of the Global Diversity Exchange at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management. For more than a decade, she led the Maytree Foundation, a charitable foundation committed to reducing poverty and inequality in Canada. She is chair of Lifeline Syria, which recruits, trains and assists sponsor groups welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada. She is also on the boards of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, the Environics Institute and Samara Canada.
The other senators appointed today are: Paralympian Chantal Petitclerc and journalist André Pratte, who will both represent Quebec, and Justice Murray Sinclair and former university president Raymonde Gagné, both from Manitoba.
Update: An earlier version of this article stated Ratna Omidvar immigrated to Canada in 1981. In actual fact, she arrived as a refugee.
Image credits: expertfile.ca, Ontario Press Council and rcinet.ca
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