Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen 1 of 5 new appointments to Canadian Senate

Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen has been named to the Canadian Senate. (Supplied Town of Banff)

Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen is one of five people named as independent Senators by Gov. Gen. Mary Simon on Thursday.

The five appointees include:

  • Karen Sorensen, for Alberta;
  • David Arnot, for Saskatchewan;
  • Michèle Audette, for Québec;
  • Amina Gerba, for Québec, and;
  • Clément Gignac, for Québec.

Sorensen is currently in her third term as mayor and before that she spent six years as a town councillor and four years as a school board trustee.

She also spent 17 years working in the hotel industry in Ontario, B.C. and Alberta.

Sorensen was named Alberta Centennial Ambassador in 2005 and was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and YWCA Banff 2019 Woman of Distinction Award.

The new Senators were recommended by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments, and chosen using "the merit-based process open to all Canadians," read a release.

"I am pleased to welcome Parliament’s newest independent Senators. Their combined experience, perspectives, and dedication to serving Canadians will further strengthen the Senate and help shape our country’s future," said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement.

"I look forward to working with them, and all senators, as we take steps toward our recovery and to building back a more resilient and inclusive Canada for everyone.”

In 2016, the selection process for senators was opened to all Canadians. Candidate submissions are reviewed by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments, which provides recommendations to the prime minister.

"Once appointed by the Governor General, new Senators join their peers to examine and revise legislation, investigate national issues, and represent regional, provincial, and minority interests – important functions in a modern democracy," read a release.

Who should fill the remaining vacant Senate seat in Alberta will be a question on municipal ballots this October. Albertans will see a list of Senate candidates on the ballot, and choose who they want appointed for Alberta. Premier Jason Kenney will then submit the Top 3 names to Trudeau.

Kenney’s intent was that he would ask Trudeau to appoint the Top 2 to two vacant Alberta Senate seats, with the third held in reserve for the next retirement opening.  But with Sorensen’s appointment, only one seat remains vacant in Alberta.

Kenney issued a statement Thursday afternoon, saying Trudeau showed "contempt for democracy in Alberta" by the appointment.

"The prime minister knows full well that Alberta will be holding elections for Senate nominees in October of this year. I personally informed him of our forthcoming Senate elections at our July 7 meeting in Calgary, and told him that the Alberta legislature had adopted a motion calling on the Prime Minister not to fill the two current Senate vacancies but to wait for Albertans to choose their own preferred Senate candidates," it read.

“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."