03/18/2016 16:42 EDT | Updated 03/19/2017 01:12 EDT

Trudeau Senate appointees include aboriginal judge, Paralympian, ex-NDP'er, journalist

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today the appointment of seven new senators who will sit as independents to represent the provinces of Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, the only three provinces who have agreed to take part in the Liberal government's plan to reform the Senate at this early stage.

The appointments are the first in three years and the result of a new selection process established by Trudeau's Liberals in a bid to transform the scandal-plagued Senate into a more "independent, non-partisan" institution.

The announcement comes in anticipation of new government legislation that will require the Senate's approval after the Trudeau government tables its first federal budget on March 22.

Trudeau's pick of four women and three men includes Manitoba's first aboriginal judge, a Paralympic gold medallist, a former provincial NDP cabinet minister, and a journalist.

The new senators were picked from a pool of candidates on the recommendation of an "independent" advisory board selected three months ago by the Trudeau government to advise the prime minister in a concerted effort to make the Upper Chamber less partisan.

Trudeau made an unprecedented decision in 2014 when he expelled every Liberal senator from his party's caucus, leaving them to sit as independents.

The 105-seat Senate includes 42 Conservative senators, 26 ex-Liberals, and 20 independents which include today's appointments. 

The seven appointments brings the total number of vacancies down to 17.

Meet your new 7 senators:

1. Peter Harder (Ont.)

Trudeau appointed Peter Harder as the government's representative in the Senate to work with Liberal House Leader Dominic Leblanc to ensure legislation gets tabled through the Senate.

Harder, who managed the Liberal transition to government, will be sworn in as a privy councillor allowing him to sit in on cabinet meetings when necessary.

He spent 29 years in the federal public service, including 16 years as a deputy minister and four years as the personal representative of the prime minister to three G8 Summits.

2. Justice Murray Sinclair (Man.)

He was the first aboriginal judge appointed in Manitoba and only the second in Canada. He was the chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated the legacy of the residential school system and delivered a landmark report in 2015.

3. Chantal Peticlerc (Que.)

She has won over 20 medals for Canada in the sport of wheelchair racing, beginning at the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona. She is chef de mission for Canada's team at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

4. Raymonde Gagné (MB)

She has worked in education for over 35 years. She served as president of Université de Saint-Boniface from 2003 to 2014. She was responsible for the college obtaining full university status and has been honoured for increasing the range of educational opportunities available in French in Manitoba.

5. Frances Lankin (Ont.)

Most recently, Lankin spent 10 years running the United Way in Toronto, taking that job after years as an NDP cabinet minister and MPP in Ontario. From 2009 to 2016, she was a member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, the oversight body for the country's security agencies.

6. Ratna Omidvar (Ont.)

Recognized globally for her contributions to increasing the inclusion of immigrants, she is currently the founding executive director of a think tank at Ryerson University's school of management that focuses on diversity, migration and inclusion. She is the chair of Lifeline Syria, which seeks to bring 1,000 privately sponsored Syrian refugees to Toronto. She also serves on the boards of the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction, The Environics Institute, and Samara.

7. André Pratte (Que.)

Author and journalist, he spent 14 years as editor-in-chief of the Quebec daily paper La Presse. He is one of the founders of a Quebec think tank on federalism.

Bios compiled by The Canadian Press.