Harper appoints five new senators 0
OTTAWA - The Conservative government appointed five new senators Friday, sparking renewed calls for red chamber reform.
The new senators are economist Diane Bellemare, Bank of Montreal project manager Tobias C. Enverga Jr., citizenship judge Thanh Hai Ngo, lawyer Thomas Johnson McInnis and lawyer Paul E. McIntyre.
McIntyre, who hails from New Brunswick, was an unsuccessful provincial Progressive Conservative candidate in 2003.
"Their broad range of experience and dedication to community will further strengthen the institution and benefit the entire country," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement. "I look forward to working with these talented individuals."
The appointees will fill Senate vacancies in Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick and signal the government's effort to bring ethnic diversity to the upper chamber.
Ngo immigrated to Canada in 1975 after fleeing Vietnam and Enverga was born in the Philippines. They will make history as the first senators of Vietnamese and Filipino descent.
But the NDP says the government hasn't fulfilled its promise to reform the upper chamber.
"Stephen Harper once said: 'An appointed Senate is a relic of the 19th Century.' Well, we now know what century he's living in," NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said.
The Tories unveiled the Senate Reform Act last summer but it hasn't been a priority on the legislative agenda.
The government says the new Senate appointees are committed to the legislation to limit Senate terms to nine years, but some previous appointees have back-pedalled on the issue. Senators can currently serve until age 75.
The Conservatives have appointed 62 of 105 senators. The unelected politicians make $132,300 annually and are entitled to other funding for accommodations and travel to Ottawa.
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