05/09/2012 10:30 EDT | Updated 07/09/2012 05:12 EDT

New Alberta Senators Voted In By Province, Welcomed By Harper

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OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is congratulating three Tories who were chosen as Alberta's new senators-in-waiting in a vote held in conjunction with last month's Alberta provincial election.

Harper says he will recommend the governor general appoint the next senator from Alberta from among the winners: Doug Black, Scott Tannas and Mike Shaikh.

Harper says his government is "deeply committed" to reform on the issue.

He's encouraging all provinces and territories to follow Alberta’s lead by giving voters a say in who will represent them in the Senate.

Alberta taxpayers spent more than $3 million for the senator-in-waiting election, double the cost of the 2004 campaign.

Only the Tories and the Wildrose ran official candidates; there were also some independents who ran but the Liberals decided to focus on provincial politics while the NDP wants the Senate scrapped.

The elections have been running for two decades as part of Alberta's ongoing fight to improve the effectiveness and accountability of the upper house.

Alberta and B.C. have a quarter of the population, for example, but just 12 seats in the 105-seat chamber.

Since 1989, three elected Alberta nominees have been named to the Senate by the federal government: Stan Waters in 1990, Bert Brown in 2007 and, most recently, Betty Unger.

Brown has since made headlines by running up $331,000 in travel and office expenses in 2010-11, making him the biggest spender in the chamber.

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