Canada PM names members to troubled upper chamber, vows reforms

Fri Mar 18, 2016 11:32am EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that he would name seven people to the Senate, whose members are all appointed, and reiterated a pledge to reform the troubled upper chamber of parliament.

The Senate, which reviews government legislation, has been embroiled in a long scandal over expense account abuses by some of the lawmakers. This has prompted critics to call for the 105-member body's abolition.

Former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper stopped filling vacant Senate spots in 2013 after several of his appointees landed in legal trouble.

The current prime minister names the senators, and in the past, appointees have often had ties to the ruling party. Trudeau, who took power in November, set up an independent advisory panel that came up with candidates.

"The government is today taking further concrete steps to follow through on its commitment to reform the Senate, restore public trust, and bring an end to partisanship in the appointments process," he said in a statement.

Former senior government official Peter Harder will be the Liberals' representative in the Senate. His job will be to push through legislation.

The seven new candidates, which also include a judge and a journalist, will fill two vacancies for Manitoba, three for Ontario and two for Quebec, leaving 17 spots still vacant.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

 
Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau looks on during a news conference in the lobby of the United Nations Headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York, March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Adrees Latif