Minister of Democratic Institutions Announces Establishment of the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments

Ottawa, Ontario, January 19, 2016 - The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions, today announced the establishment of the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments (Advisory Board).

The Advisory Board will be an independent and non-partisan body whose mandate is to provide the Prime Minister with merit-based recommendations on Senate nominations.

The Board will be chaired by Ms. Huguette Labelle, Emeritus Governor of the University of Ottawa, a Companion of the Order of Canada, and a recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada.

The following members are being appointed to the Advisory Board:

  • Dr. Indira Samarasekera as Federal Member – served as the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Alberta.

  • Professor Daniel Jutras as Federal Member – Dean of Law, Full Professor, Wainwright Chair in Civil Law at the Faculty of Law, McGill University.

  • Mr. Murray Segal as provincial member for Ontario – former Ontario Deputy Attorney General and Ontario Deputy Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs.

  • Dr. Dawn Lavell Harvard as provincial member for Ontario – President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

  • Ms. Sylvie Bernier as provincial member for Quebec – Olympic gold medalist, media contributor and Healthy Lifestyle Ambassador.

  • Dr. Yves Lamontagne as provincial member for Quebec – an accomplished psychiatrist and leading figure in the field of medicine.

  • Ms. Susan Lewis as provincial member for Manitoba – worked for over 40 years with the United Way of Winnipeg, including as President from 1985 to 2014.

  • Ms. Heather Bishop as provincial member for Manitoba – an accomplished musician/singer-songwriter, independent recording artist, and entrepreneur.

The establishment of the Advisory Board is the first step in the Government’s comprehensive plan to create a new and non-partisan process to provide the Prime Minister with non-binding recommendations on Senate appointments. The Board will undertake broad consultations within the three provinces with the greatest number of vacancies in the Senate. It is hoped that five vacancies (two in Manitoba, two in Ontario and one in Quebec) will be filled by early 2016.

The permanent process will be established later in 2016 and will include an application process open to all Canadians.  The Advisory Board will be guided by public, merit-based criteria, in order to identify Canadians who would make a significant contribution to the work of the Senate – with the end goal of ensuring a high standard of integrity, collaboration, and non-partisanship in the Senate.


“The Government is acting rapidly to reform the Senate. I am very pleased to establish this important new Advisory Board, and it is truly inspiring that such eminent Canadians have agreed to serve on it. The new, independent process will help inject a new spirit of non-partisanship into the Senate.  I believe that this new process will immediately begin to restore the confidence of Canadians in an institution that plays an essential role in our parliamentary system.”
--Hon. Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions

Quick Facts

  • There are currently 22 vacancies in the Senate.  Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba have the largest number of vacancies.

  • Under the Constitution, the Governor General appoints individuals to the Senate.  By convention, Senators are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister.

Related Products

For further information on the Advisory Board and the new process to advise on Senate appointments, please refer to the News Release and Backgrounder (with “Annex:  Qualifications and Merit-Based Assessment Criteria”), released on December 3, 2015.


For further information (media only):

  • Jean-Bruno Villeneuve
    Issues Manager and Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Democratic Institutions