Region Shut Out In Senate Appointments

File photo of the Senate chamber courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / Josefhanus

A London economist admits he’s disappointed that none of the seven new Senate appointees are from southwestern Ontario.

Mike Moffatt, assistant professor at of the Ivey School of Business and Chief Economist at the Mowat Centre, says the upper chamber has been without a Senator from the region since the 2013 death of Doug Finley.

Friday’s announcement of the appointments of seven new Senators included two from Toronto and one from Ottawa. Moffatt says that seems to continue a trend that leaves southwestern Ontario out.

“Prime ministers have been choosing more and more people from Toronto and Ottawa to the point at which, when Doug Finley passed away in 2013, there were no more Senators from southwestern Ontario,” says Moffatt. “That had never happened in Confederation.”

Historically, Moffatt says our region has had anywhere from four to six sitting Senators, including John Carling and Elijah Leonard of London and Eugene Whelan of Windsor. But with no Senators from our area, and only two government MPs and two government MPPs west of Kitchener-Waterloo, there are concerns the issues affecting southwestern Ontario are not getting enough attention.

Moffatt says that could’ve been addressed by appointing someone from this region to the upper chamber.

“The Senate plays an important role when it comes to bringing issues of national and regional importance to the government,” says Moffatt. “It would’ve been nice to have someone in Ottawa talk about our issues, talk about manufacturing, talk about agri-food.”

Instead, Moffatt suggests there aren’t enough people in the halls of power speaking up for southwestern Ontario in the same way politicians from other jurisdictions do.

“We don’t really have anybody in the region who will speak like a (Saskatchewan Premier) Brad Wall does,” says Moffatt. “If something is going on in Saskatchewan, you hear it from the premier. But because we’re not our own province, we’re just a region in a province, we don’t receive that kind of attention. That’s despite the fact we have twice as many people as Saskatchewan does.”

Friday’s Senate appointments reduce the number of vacancies in the upper chamber to 17.