NEWS
03/18/2016 05:46 EDT | Updated 03/19/2017 01:12 EDT

Chantal Petitclerc, Murray Sinclair among 7 new Liberal-appointed Senators

A Paralympic gold medallist and an esteemed jurist who led the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into residential schools have been appointed to the Senate.

Chantal Petitclerc and Murray Sinclair  are among seven new senators named by the Liberal government today.

Others include:

- Peter Harder, a former bureaucrat who led Justin Trudeau's transition team.

- Raymonde Gagné, former president of Manitoba's Université de Saint-Boniface.

- Frances Lankin, a former Ontario NDP cabinet minister and a national security expert.

- Ratna Omidvar,  executive director at Ryerson University's Global Diversity Exchange.

- André Pratte, editorial writer at La Presse.

Petitclerc, a 14-time Paralympic gold medallist and world-record-holding wheelchair racer, was Canada's chef de mission at the 2014 Commonwealth Games — the first time a Paralympic athlete had held that post. She is also Canada's chef de mission for the Rio Paralympics in September 2016.

She tweeted, "There we go: feeling humbled."

A news released from the Prime Minister's Office described the senators as "independent" and said Harder will serve as the "government representative" in the Senate.

"The government is today taking further concrete steps to follow through on its commitment to reform the Senate, restore public trust, and bring an end to partisanship in the appointments process," he said in a statement.

He added that today's appointments will "help advance the important objective to transform the Senate into a less partisan and more independent institution that can perform its fundamental roles in the legislative process more effectively."

Back in January, the Liberals named an advisory board to help Prime Minister Justin Trudeau make his picks for the Red Chamber.

Only three provinces — Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec — are participating in that advisory board right now. The federal government has stated those three are involved because they have the most vacancies in the Senate.

According to the Senate's website, Ontario had eight vacancies before today's appointments, Quebec had six and Manitoba had four. Nova Scotia and New Brunswick both had two vacancies, while British Columbia and Prince Edward Island had one each.

British Columbia has declined to participate in the advisory board process. Premier Christy Clark said in December that the province declined to take part because it did not want to validate it. She also said B.C. — with a total of six senators allocated to it in the 105-member Senate — is under-represented.

At the time the advisory panel was unveiled, the minister of democratic institutions, Maryam Monsef, reiterated the government's intent to fill at least five vacancies in the early part of 2016.