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Sorenson defends Senate selection process after Kenney outcry

The Senate of Canada building and Senate Chamber are pictured in Ottawa on Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

CALGARY – Alberta’s newest representative in Ottawa is defending the selection process after the premier called her appointment to the Senate a “slap in the face”.

Karen Sorenson is leaving her post as Banff’s mayor after 11 years after she was appointed Thursday by Governor General Mary Simon.

Albertans were expected to pick Senate nominees on a referendum ballot during this fall’s municipal elections.

“Today, Prime Minister Trudeau showed contempt for democracy in Alberta by appointing a hand-picked representative of Alberta to the Senate of Canada in advance of our province’s Senate elections,” Kenney wrote in a statement.

READ MORE: Banff mayor appointed as independent senator, will represent Alberta

Kenney says he had discussed that with the prime minister when he was in town earlier this month.

“Alberta’s tradition of electing Senate nominees goes back to the 1980s. We have had four Senate elections in the past, and five nominees to the Senate selected by Albertans in these elections went on to be appointed and to represent Albertans in Parliament democratically. The Prime Minister’s decision shows contempt for democratic decision-making, and for Alberta voters in particular,” Kenney continued.

“Sadly, the Prime Minister’s decision to snub his nose at Alberta’s democratic tradition is part of a pattern of flippantly disregarding our province’s demands for a fair deal in the Canadian federation and the desire of Albertans for democratic accountability.”

Sorenson is defending Ottawa’s selection process.

However, Sorenson says the process is the same across the country — as it should be.

“The senate represents this country and I think how people are putting the position of being a senator should be consistent. I’m confident that this process of, you know, this reform that we’ve seen in the senate for the past few years, we’ll continue to result in a less partisan and a more effective institution that serves Canadians.”

Sorensen says it took a long time for her to get the role, after first applying for it in 2019.

She says getting the job involved a long series of interviews and a vetting process until she found out she was successful earlier this week.

Sorenson encourages anyone who wishes to apply to go through the same process.