POLITICS
10/11/2018 16:31 EDT | Updated 10/11/2018 16:32 EDT

P.E.I. Mi'kmaq Chief Brian Francis, Ontario Lawyer Josee Forest-Niesing Headed To Senate

Trudeau says their "vast knowledge and experience will greatly benefit Parliament."

Mi'kmaq leader Brian Francis from Prince Edward Island is shown in an undated handout photo.
CP
Mi'kmaq leader Brian Francis from Prince Edward Island is shown in an undated handout photo.

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has named Ontario lawyer Josee Forest-Niesing and Mi'kmaq leader Brian Francis from Prince Edward Island as the newest members of the Senate.

The two are the latest senators to be appointed through the open nomination process created by Trudeau, who has now appointed 45 independent members to the Red Chamber.

Forest-Niesing is from Sudbury, where she has specialized as a trial lawyer dealing with family, civil litigation and employment cases while also serving as an active member and volunteer in the local francophone community.

Francis is the high-profile chief of the Abegweit First Nation on PEI's northern coast and has served in a variety of positions, including with the federal fisheries department as a contact for local First Nations and as an advocate for Indigenous culture in the province.

While Trudeau welcomed "Parliament's newest independent senators," Elections Canada records show Forest-Niesing previously donated thousands of dollars to the Liberal Party. She also contributed to Trudeau's campaign for the Liberal leadership in 2013.

Francis, meanwhile, previously served on the government-appointed advisory board that is responsible for reviewing applications from Canadians hoping to sit in the Senate and recommending nominees.

"I have no doubt that their vast knowledge and experience will greatly benefit Parliament and all of Canada," Trudeau said in a statement about his latest appointees.

The Independent Senators Group currently represents the largest bloc in the chamber with 47 members; there are also 31 Conservatives, 10 independent Liberals, 11 who are not affiliated with any group and four vacancies.