Put farmers, fishers, veterans in the Red Chamber, senator urges

Put farmers, fishers, veterans in the Red Chamber, senator urges
From CBC - March 14, 2018

A Prince Edward Island senatoris calling on Justin Trudeau to fill more seats in the Red Chamber with farmers, fishers and veterans.

In a letter to the prime minister dated Mar. 9, Sen. Percy Downesaid the Senate has many lawyers, journalists, academicsand business people, but he urged Trudeau to look at "untapped expertise" across the country and broaden the diversity of backgrounds in the Senate.

He tweeted about the letter Wednesday, lamenting the fact that "important voices" are missing from Senate debates.

Downe points outthe Senate is doing well on gender equality; 45 per cent of senators are women, compared to only 27 per cent in the House of Commons. But he said significant gaps exist in terms of representatives of key industries like agriculture and fisheries, and those who served in the Canadian Armed Forces.

"The prime minister and others often say diversity is our strength, but we want to make sure snobbery is not our weakness," Downesaid, suggesting the appointments process favours those in certain professions.

Before his appointment to the Senate in 2003, Downeworked as a Liberal political aide at the provincial and federal levels.

Robert Black, who has a university degree in agriculture and had served as CEO of the Rural Ontario Institute since 2010, was appointed to the Senate last month.

Downesaid that's not enough to represent the agriculture andagri-foodsector, which represents more than $111 billion of national GDP and 12.5 per cent of Canadian jobs. He saidthe Senate needs the voices of those who have worked in the field as farmers, fishers or lower-ranking military personnel, who understand the issues from the ground up.

He said problems with the timely delivery of veteransassistance programs appearto disproportionately affect retired military members below the rank of colonel yet they haveno representation in the Senate.

'Important voices' missing



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