Hon. Diane Bellemare: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate.
Senator Gold, there are currently 15 vacant seats in the Senate, which represents 14% of all seats. There are four vacancies for Ontario, five for the Western provinces and six for the Atlantic provinces. More and more vacancies keep popping up. By May we will be up to 16 vacancies.
We all know that Canadians may apply through an open application process. The website currently indicates that there were some provincial and territorial members appointed to the Advisory Board recently, but there are still positions open.
What stage are we at with the appointment of members to the Advisory Board and, most importantly, appointments to the Senate? Is the process ongoing?
Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question, esteemed colleague.
I will begin by noting that on March 23, the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments launched an official call for new applicants to fill Senate vacancies for British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The government makes sure that all provincial and territorial advisory boards are established efficiently and quickly to ensure that all applicants are assessed and that all provinces and regions are properly represented in this place.
As you know it is an arm’s-length process. The Government Representative does not have much say in the process. That said, I am hopeful that the process will move along efficiently and that several appointments will soon be announced. I have no further information to give you.
Senator Bellemare: Senator Gold, can you tell us how new senators will be received and what training they will be given? Will the various groups and caucuses be invited to give presentations to new senators and to help develop an onboarding program?
Senator Gold: Thank you for the question. As you know, colleagues, the Senate administration already provides orientation and administrative support for each new senator. That includes setting up a temporary office to welcome them.
My understanding is that recently each group and caucus has been taking care of their members’ orientation as soon as they join a group or caucus. That being said, I would be very happy to work with you, with the leaders of the Senate, to see if there are ways that we could change or improve our approach to orientation for new senators to make it more useful for both the Senate and those who are joining us and to help new senators more easily transition into their role. Thank you.