There are 13 senate nominees running in the upcoming April 23 election, one of whom stopped in Innisfail on his campaign trail on April 12.
Doug Black is one of the three Progressive Conservative senate nominee candidates who will be on the ballot and spoke to the Innisfail Province at the Tim Hortons last Thursday.
“I'm finding people are really interested in having a conversation,” Black said of his travels around the province. “I'm hearing people want an elected senate.”
Alberta is currently the only province to elect senators-in-waiting who will fill seats when current senators retire at age 75. The Canadian Senate is part of the Parliament of Canada and legislation needs to pass through the senate as well as the House of Commons before it can become law.
An elected senate was one of three platform points Black highlighted.
“My view is it's not democratic. It's broken,” he said of the current senate system. The Governor General appoints senators at the recommendation of the prime minister. Many of the appointments are viewed as partisan or patronage appointments. Black said that culture of patronage could be fixed by building bridges and strong leadership within the senate, though it would not be a quick fix.
“The prime minister is right on side with this,” he said of Stephen Harper's support for senate reform. Black would also campaign for more representation for Alberta, as it currently has only six senators while other, less populous provinces have 10 or more.
Black pointed to his track record of “making change” in his positions as a lawyer and work on various boards.
His second highlighted platform point was that of forming a national energy strategy. He said Canada is energy rich in several ways, not just oil and gas.
“We don't have a plan about how we're going to maximize those resources,” Black said. He added he founded and is the president of the Energy Policy Institute of Canada, which is developing a plan with recommendations. If in the senate, Black said he would advocate for the adoption of the plan.
His third area of interest is a focus on post-secondary education. Black, who is on a temporary leave of absence from his role as chair of the University of Calgary board of governors, said he would advocate to change federal funding of post-secondary institutions.
“More needs to be done,” he said, noting he would advocate for more “appropriate” funding and not necessarily more money. He said Canada needs to invest in innovation.
“We are losing ground as a nation,” he said.
Black and the other candidates can hope the top vote-getters in the senate race will have the opportunity to fill expected vacancies of Alberta's senate seats in upcoming years. The next vacancy is expected to be in 2013, then another in 2014 and not again until 2018.
In addition to Black, Mike Shaikh and Scott Tannas are both running for senate nominations under the Progressive Conservative banner.
The Wildrose Party is fielding three of its own senate candidates. They are Raymond Germain, Rob Gregory and Vitor Marciano.
The EverGreen Party has Elizabeth Johannson running in the senate race.
Six candidates are running independently. They are Len Bracko, Perry Chahal, William Exelby, David Fletcher, Paul Frank and Ian Urquhart.