NEWS
07/14/2016 13:51 EDT | Updated 07/15/2017 01:12 EDT

Elected Conservative Senator Doug Black to sit as an Independent

One of the only elected members of the Senate is leaving the Conservative caucus to sit as an Independent.

Senator Doug Black, who was picked by Albertans as their preferred choice for an appointment in a special 2012 election, will cross the floor and sit with the growing contingent of non-aligned members of the Red Chamber.

"I was elected by Albertans to ensure my voice and actions effectively represent the interests of our province. I believe that the best way for me to continue working towards creating a more accountable and effective Senate, while also better representing Albertans, is to sit as an Independent senator," Black said in a statement Thursday.

Black joins a number of other Stephen Harper-appointed senators who have jumped from the Conservative ship, including Jacques Demers, John Wallace, Michel Rivard and Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu.

Scott Tannas, who was elected alongside Black by Alberta voters, said Thursday has was disappointed by the move.

"His positive attitude and voice of reason will be missed by many of his caucus colleagues, including me," Tannas said in a statement. "Doug Black came to Ottawa to make a difference. He remains a principled Conservative who believes — as I do — that more gets done when people work in a spirit of respect and cooperation."

Black's floor-crossing has whittled the Conservative caucus down to 41 members.

There are 24 non-affiliated, 21 Liberal senators and 19 vacancies. A further four senators will face mandatory retirement in the next six months.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he will fill all of the vacancies this year — all the senators will be appointed as Independents as part of his push to root out partisanship in the chamber.