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P.E.I. senate seat remains vacant more than a year after the retirement of Libbe Hubley

FILE PHOTOA: P.E.I. Senator Diane Griffin, centre, is shown with fellow Island Senator Libbe Hubley and Peter Harder, the government representative on the Senate.
FILE PHOTOA: P.E.I. Senator Diane Griffin, centre, is shown with fellow Island Senator Libbe Hubley and Peter Harder, the government representative on the Senate. - SaltWire Network

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has yet to recommend a new Senator for P.E.I., more than a year after the retirement of Libbe Hubley.

Hubley, a resident of Kensington, retired in September of 2017 after serving for 16 years.

The independent advisory board for senate appointments announced in February of 2018 that it was accepting candidates for Senate vacancies in 10 provinces and territories, including P.E.I.

Sen. Diane Griffin, who was appointed in October of 2016, said she heard the deadline for receiving applications was April 4.

"I have no idea where they're at in that process other than April 4 has come and gone. Lots of people applied because I had discussions with people who were asking for advice at the time," Griffin said.

She said her selection, from the time she applied in 2016 to the time she was selected, took about two and a half months. The seat to which she had been appointed had been vacant for two years after the retirement of Catherine Callbeck.

An e-mailed response from the office of the Privy Council Office of the federal government did not indicate how many applicants had been received from P.E.I., nor when the appointment would be made.

“Appointments to the Senate will be announced in due course,” read the e-mail.

In 2016, the Trudeau government announced changes to the selection process for senators, which were introduced in order to make the process more merit-based and reduce partisanship. An independent advisory board for senate appointments was established, which was composed of a mixture of local representatives from each province as well as federal representatives.

The Governor General appoints senators, as per the Canadian constitution, but traditionally has made the appointments on the advice of the prime minister.

At the time of Griffin’s appointment in 2016, 66 people had made applications for the senate seat. Many of these applications would still be valid for the current vacancy as they stay active for a two-year period.

There are two representatives from P.E.I. on the senate advisory board. These representatives are Cavendish Figurines co-owner Jeannette Arsenault and Alberton lawyer Allan Shaw.

P.E.I. has an allocation of four senate positions. Aside from Griffin, the Island’s current sitting senators are Percy Downe and Mike Duffy.

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