St. Albertans who want to be senators can once again run as candidates to become Senate nominees, with the return of the province's Senate election process.
On June 23, the province announced the Writ of Election for the 2021 Alberta Senate. Elections for Senate nominations will be held alongside the municipal elections on Oct. 18.
“Albertans have every right to choose who should represent them in the national Parliament. It’s about democracy, plain and simple,” said Premier Jason Kenney in the June 23 press release.
Alberta has three Senate positions up for grabs. Two of those positions will be to fill vacant Senate seats, and one position will be extra in case anyone retires early.
In a June 17 letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Kenney urged Trudeau to hold off filling the two Senate vacancies until Albertans have a chance to vote for their preferred nominees.
“We understand that constitutionally, Senate nominations remain a prerogative of the federal government, but due to Alberta’s long-standing practice of holding Senate nominee elections, and the respect which these elections have been shown by the previous federal government, I request that you honour this Alberta convention and agree to nominate the candidates selected by Albertans themselves,” Kenney stated in the letter.
The power to appoint individuals to the Senate is held by the Governor General, who summons individuals to the Senate on advice by the prime minister, according to the Constitution Act, 1867.
The prime minister is not required to recommend anyone to the Governor General that has been elected by Albertans; however, in the past, out of the 10 nominees elected, five Alberta-elected Senate nominees have been appointed to the Senate.
Senate elections were held in Alberta from 1989 until the law expired in 2021. The United Conservative Party introduced Bill 13, the Alberta Senate Election Act, which came into effect in July of 2019.
The bill was amended and Bill 27, the Senate Election Amendment Act, took effect in July of 2020. A key change to the amendment made it possible for Senate elections to be held in conjunction with a municipal election.
To become a potential candidate, according to the Constitution, a person has to be a Canadian citizen, an Alberta resident, between the age of 30 and 75, and own $4,000 in real property in Alberta. The individual must also collect 500 signatures from eligible electors for their nomination papers and put down a $4,000 deposit to Elections Alberta by 2 p.m. on Sept. 20 to be placed on the ballot during the municipal elections.
Albertans can also apply to become a Senator federally.
In 2016, the federal government made a commitment to reform the Senate to end partisanship in the appointment process by creating an independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments.
The board provides non-binding recommendations to the prime minister using the Constitutional requirements as well as merit-based criteria, including non-partisanship, knowledge of the legislative process and Constitution, outstanding personal qualities, and related qualifications.
Albertans who want to apply for a Senate position through the federal government can do so online. The process requires potential nominees to fill out an application form, a background check consent form, and hand in your curriculum vitae along with three signed reference letters.
In total, there are currently 12 vacant Senate seats in the country, with three open positions in Quebec, two in both Alberta and Saskatchewan, and one vacant seat each for British Columbia, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island.