Beverley Busson, who will represent British Columbia in the upper house, was part of the first class of women to serve in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) when she joined the force in the mid 1970s. Until then, policing roles had been reserved for men.
The first woman to hold the reins of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and a Cree Metis businessman are the two newest members of the Senate. RCMP Commissioner Beverley Busson speaks at the opening of the $40 million RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina on Wednesday, May 23, 2007. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
"Her career as a law enforcement officer was a career of firsts," says a biography supplied by the prime minister's office. "Mrs. Busson rose steadily through the ranks, becoming the first woman commissioned officer, the first woman criminal operations officer, the first woman commanding officer, and the first woman deputy commissioner of a region."
Busson was then tapped to serve as commissioner — the top Mountie — in 2006 after her predecessor resigned amid scandal. She was the first woman ever to hold the job. During her tenure, Busson fought to end gender-based barriers to police work.
Also named to the Senate Monday was Martin 'Marty' Klyne, a prominent Saskatchewan businessperson of Cree Métis heritage.
He is described as a man who has spent much of his career "advancing Aboriginal economic development" and "speaking up for Aboriginal interests to accelerate their participation in the mainstream economy."
From 2008 to 2013, Klyne served as publisher and CEO of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post, two daily newspapers in Saskatchewan.
Klyne was also the president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation, held management positions with Royal Trust Corporation of Canada and the Mercantile Bank of Canada and later served as president and CEO of the Regina Regional Economic Development Authority and the SaskNative Economic Development Corporation.
In an interview with CBC Saskatchewan shortly after he was named, Klyne said he was both "nervous and excited" to be taking his place in the upper house.
"I know the Senate has gone through some criticism in the last couple of years but I also know that there is a number of very smart people, very talented and very dedicated people in the Senate making some valid contributions," he said, citing the Senate expenses scandal that made the Red Chamber a political hot potato in the last federal campaign.
Beverley Busson will take the seat in B.C. and Martin Klyne will fill the vacancy in Saskatchewan.
"I'm proud to go there and represent Saskatchewan, serving Canada in the Senate. I'm proud for my family and certainly the Métis Nation and First Nations of Saskatchewan — so lots of pride going with me to Ottawa," he said.
Klyne served as chief operating officer of the company overseeing the Regina Pats Hockey Club, a lecturer at the First Nations University of Canada and publisher of two Postmedia Network Inc. newspapers — the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post.
Both Busson and Klyne were recommended to the prime minister by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments — a body created after Trudeau's election in 2015 with the goal of pursuing a "merit-based" appointments process.
Trudeau has named 40 senators to the Red Chamber. Like the other Trudeau appointees, each of the new picks is expected to sit as an Independent or non-affiliated senator — part of the prime minister's stated campaign to eliminate partisanship from the chamber over time.
"I am pleased to welcome two new members to the Senate who have done tremendous work in their professional lives and as active members of their communities. I am confident that they will work diligently and with integrity to serve the best interests of the country and all Canadians," Trudeau said in a statement.
The Independent Senators Group (ISG) now constitutes the largest bloc in the Senate and holds a plurality with 47 seats, followed by 31 Conservative senators and 11 Liberals.
Busson served as commissioner of the RCMP on an interim basis in 2006, which made her the first woman to hold the position.
Another senator, Liberal Art Eggleton of Ontario, will retire later this month when he hits the mandatory retirement age of 75.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making the appointments to fill seats in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.
To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.
It is a priority for CBC to create a website that is accessible to all Canadians including people with visual, hearing, motor and cognitive challenges.
The official caucus of independent senators could soon wield a majority as Prime Minster Justin Trudeau named two more senators on Monday.
Beverley Busson, Canadas first female RCMP commissioner, and Saskatchewan business leader Marty Klyne were appointed Monday as independent senators.
Mr. Klyne is Cree Métis and a former publisher of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post, as well as a former president of the Saskatchewan Gaming Corp.
Neither Ms. Busson nor Mr. Klyne have said whether they would join a caucus in the Senate. However, Mr. Trudeaus appointments have tended to declare themselves as members of the Independent Senators Group, which currently has 47 members. Should it grow to 49, it would hold more than 50 per cent of the 96 seats that are filled.
The 105-seat Senate is on track to have nine vacancies by the end of the week, as Liberal Senator Art Eggleton, a former Liberal cabinet minister, will reach the mandatory retirement age of 75 on Saturday.
Senators who are not officially aligned with either the Liberal or Conservative parties already make up a majority in the chamber.
The Conservative Party is the Official Opposition, with 31 senators, followed by 11 Senators – soon to be 10 – who sit as Liberals but who do not sit in caucus with Liberal MPs. Six senators describe themselves as non-affiliated. That includes three independent senators who sit as representatives of the government in the Senate.
The decision to appoint senators who will sit as independents, rather than as a member of the governing party, was a campaign promise of the Liberal Party aimed at reducing partisanship in the chamber. The fact that those independent senators now wield a majority highlights the considerable change that has occurred in the three years since Mr. Trudeau became Prime Minister in 2015.
Questions have been raised, however, as to their degree of independence. An analysis conducted last year by the CBC found senators appointed by Mr. Trudeau voted with the government 94.5 per cent of the time, which was higher than the 78.5-per-cent result for senators who sit as Liberals.
Larry Smith, the Conservative Leader in the Senate, said senators will always have a connection to the Prime Minister who appointed them. However, he said these independent senators could become more unpredictable over time.
The issue is, when youre branded as independent, who are you really accountable to? Its great to say all Canadians. But Im not sure that really holds, because you cant be everything to everybody,” he said.
Senator Yuen Pau Woo, who heads the Independent Senators Group, praised the quality of Mondays appointments and said he believes the move toward independents is working. He also stressed that his group doesnt tell its members how to vote.
Peter Harder, the Government Leader in the Senate, was the first of Mr. Trudeaus independent senators. The former senior public servant is hoping the shifting makeup will help him get legislation passed.
The independent appointments have brought added energy and credibility to the effort to have a less partisan, more independent Senate, he said.
The new appointments come as the Senate prepares to debate Bill C-69, the Liberal governments controversial legislation aimed at overhauling the approval process for large natural resources projects.