Mandate and members

What is the mandate of the Advisory Board?

The Advisory Board is an independent and non-partisan body whose mandate is to provide non-binding, merit-based recommendations to the Prime Minister on Senate appointments. It was established on January 19, 2016 and consists of three permanent federal members and two members from each of the provinces or territories where a vacancy is to be filled‍. The Advisory Board is chaired by one of the federal members and is supported by the Privy Council Office. 

Terms of Reference for the Advisory Board

What is the role of the Advisory Board for Senate Appointments?

An open application process has been established to allow Canadians to apply for appointment to the Senate.

The Advisory Board assesses applications based on public, merit-based criteria, in order to identify Canadians who would make a significant contribution to the work of the Senate. The criteria helps to ensure a high standard of integrity, collaboration, and non-partisanship in the Senate.

The Advisory Board provides a short-list of five names for each vacancy to the Prime Minister for his consideration, in accordance with their Terms of Reference.

How many members sit on the Advisory Board?

The Advisory Board has five members: a federal Chair, two other federal members and two ad hoc provincial or territorial members for the province or territory where a vacancy is being filled.

Who are the current federal members of the Advisory Board?

  • Huguette Labelle (Chair)

    Huguette Labelle holds a PhD (education) degree from the University of Ottawa, has honorary degrees from twelve Canadian universities, and from the University of Notre Dame, United States. She is a Companion of the Order of Canada. In addition, she is a recipient of the Order of Ontario, the Vanier Medal of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada, the Outstanding Achievement Award of the Public Service of Canada, the McGill University Management Achievement Award and the Francophonie’s Ordre de la Pléiade.

    Ms. Labelle is Emeritus Governor of the University of Ottawa, and was Chancellor of the University of Ottawa from 1994 to 2012. She is currently Vice-Chair of the Rideau Hall Foundation Board, Vice-Chair of the International Senior Advisory Board of the International Anti-Corruption Academy, Chair of the International Anti-Corruption Conference Council, member of the Board of the Global Centre for Pluralism, Board member of Global Financial Integrity, Board member of the Aga Khan Museum and Chair of the Selection Committee for Master's Scholarships on Sustainable Energy Development. Ms. Labelle is also a member of the Advisory Group to the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Integrity and Anti-Corruption, the Natural Resources and Energy Leadership Council and the Advisory Board of RESOLVE, and the University of Ottawa Campaign Cabinet. She is also a former Chair of Transparency International, as well as a former Board member of UN Global Compact.

    Ms. Labelle also served for a period of nineteen years as Deputy Minister of different Canadian Government departments including Secretary of State, Transport Canada, the Public Service Commission and the Canadian International Development Agency.

  • Melissa Blake

    Melissa Blake was elected to six consecutive terms, beginning in 1998, for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. She was first elected as mayor in October 2004 and concluded her final term in 2017.

    Being the top elected official for one of Canada's largest municipalities brought with it tremendous challenges and opportunities. Wood Buffalo is the heart of Canada's energy industry and is often subject to global scrutiny. When the 2016 Horse River Wildfire forced the evacuation of 88,000 people, Mayor Blake’s strength and dedication earned the hearts and minds of Albertans, Canadians and the world. In Wood Buffalo, she worked hard to get her citizens "home".

    Ms. Blake has served on numerous committees in addition to her regular council duties, including those related to development, protective services, community services and affordable housing. She has also served on two provincial associations.

    Ms. Blake brought a range of experience including public affairs, materials & services and human resources to elected service from her corporate career. She holds a Bachelor of Administration degree from Athabasca University and has received numerous awards for her work.

    She resides permanently in Fort McMurray, Alberta with her husband and two young sons.

  • François Rolland

    The Honourable François Rolland was appointed a Superior Court of Quebec justice in 1996 and Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Quebec in 2004, a position he held until his retirement in 2015.

    Following his retirement, Mr. Rolland was appointed by the Quebec government as Director of the Voluntary Reimbursement Program serving until the program ended in November 2017. He also presides over private mediation and arbitration mandates, involving mostly commercial matters, and including large multijurisdictional class actions.

    He is a member of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), a founding member and former chair of the Judges' Forum of the CBA and a past president of the CBA’s Quebec Branch and of the Young Bar of Montreal. Mr. Rolland was awarded the Louis St-Laurent award for his exceptional contribution to the CBA and the CBA’s Centennial Medal.

    A member of the Board of the Canadian Forum on Civil Justice, Mr. Rolland is also a member of the International Insolvency institute, Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the Centre d’accès à l’information juridique, Chair of the Board of Directors of Éducaloi and a Commissioner of Ethics for the Barreau du Québec and the Chambre des notaires. He also taught ethics at the National Judicial Institute for 10 years.

    The Honourable François Rolland graduated from University of Montreal in 1974 and was called to the Quebec Bar in 1975. Before his appointment as a judge, he was a partner at the law firm Fasken Martineau, practising mainly in the field of commercial and civil litigation.

    In 2019, he joined Langlois lawyers as Senior Counsel, Mediator and Arbitrator.

Who are the current provincial or territorial members of the Advisory Board?


  • Elizabeth Cannon

    Dr. Elizabeth Cannon is President Emerita of the University of Calgary. As the former leader of one of Canada’s top research universities, she is a passionate advocate of higher education’s ability to drive innovation, leadership and community engagement. Prior to her appointment as president, Dr. Cannon was dean of the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary.

    Dr. Cannon is a Professional Engineer, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and an elected foreign associate of the National Academy of Engineering. Throughout her career, Dr. Cannon has championed women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

    Dr. Cannon has received many awards, including the Gold Medal Award from Engineers Canada, one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 and was named as one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network. She has received five honorary degrees and was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada.

    Dr. Cannon holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in mathematics from Acadia University, as well as a BSc, MSc and PhD in geomatics engineering from the University of Calgary.

  • Karen MacKenzie

    Karen MacKenzie is a proud Cree-Métis woman and the President of MacKintosh Canada, an Indigenous-owned international consulting company, and PeopleBest Canada, an artificial intelligence company.

    Business ownership along with academic and senior management positions has led Ms. MacKenzie to this important crossroads in our collective societies, where co-creation of the future is both important and enabling. She brings her traditional knowledge of Indigenous ways into the contemporary workplace, as this wisdom and way of being reflect “wise practices of purpose-driven individuals, communities and organizations.” Ms. MacKenzie is a proven leader and a highly respected authority on individual, team, organizational and community change.

    Ms. MacKenzie is a member of the Edmonton Police Commission and the Circle of Elders for Edmonton Catholic Schools. She is also an advocate for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    Ms. MacKenzie was recently appointed as an expert panel member for the Canadian Centre for the Purpose of the Corporation and as a Senior Advisor to Navigator. She is a Senior Advisor to the Indigenous Women in Community Leadership, Coady Institute, St. Francis Xavier University. She is a board member of Honouring Indigenous Peoples, a national Rotary initiative. She also has an advisory role with the Indigenous Innovation Initiative as part of Grand Challenges Canada, which supports innovation viewed through a gender lens and is inclusive of 2SLGBTTQQIA+. She was recognized as an Albertan SHEInnovates leader under the Global Innovation Coalition for Change.

British Columbia

  • Both positions are currently vacant


  • Both positions are currently vacant

New Brunswick

  • Roger Clinch

    J. Roger Clinch is Principal of Clinch Consultants. Prior to becoming a consultant in 2011, Mr. Clinch worked for Xstrata Zinc (Canada and Ireland) for more than 20 years, holding various senior management positions. In addition to his consulting experience focused on management, human resources and labour relations, he is a trusted mediator and expert communications strategist. He also worked as a school principal for a number of years, was elected as Mayor of Bathurst from 1980 to 1983 and served as a Member of Parliament from 1984 to 1988. He also served as Chief of Staff to the New Brunswick Premier from September 2013 until October 2014.

    He is very involved in his community, particularly as head coach of various baseball, hockey and volleyball teams, leading them to regional and provincial titles over five decades. He has served on a number of corporate boards, including NB Power and Chaleur Regional Hospital. He is the recipient of the St. Thomas University Distinguished Alumni Award, the Bathurst Youth Centre Award, the Bathurst Freeman of the City Award and the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.

  • Pierre-Marcel Desjardins

    Pierre-Marcel Desjardins is currently the Chairman of the board of UNI Financial Cooperation. Mr. Desjardins has been a long-time partner of UNI, formerly known as Caisse populaire acadienne, occupying the position of Chairman or Vice-Chairman for several Caisse populaire boards of directors across southeastern New Brunswick since 1995. He was also Chairman of the Pays de la Sagouine’s Board of Directors from 2001 to 2012.

    A faculty member at the Université de Moncton, he has been a sessional lecturer, assistant professor, professor and chair holder of the Chaire des caisses populaires acadiennes en études coopératives de l’Université de Moncton. Mr. Desjardins has also been a research associate of the Université de Moncton Canadian Institute for Research on Regional Development. Since 2016, Pierre-Marcel Desjardins has been serving as the Director of the Université de Moncton’s École des hautes études publiques.

    Mr. Desjardins graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a PhD in Economics, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences (Economics) and a Master’s degree in Economics from the Université de Moncton. He presided over the Premiers’ of Atlantic Canada panel on Employment Insurance Reform and was part of the New Brunswick Pension Task Force.

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Both positions are currently vacant

Northwest Territories

  • Both positions are currently vacant

Nova Scotia

  • Both positions are currently vacant


  • Both positions are currently vacant


  • Anthony Primerano

    Anthony Primerano is a business leader with over 20 years of experience assuring strategic successes in both the private and public sectors. He graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario and is currently the Director of Government Relations for the Laborers’ International Union of North America—the largest trade union in North America, with 600,000 members. He was hired to improve the union’s position within all levels of government, address key regulatory and policy issues, and clarify the union’s messaging.

    He previously worked for MGIC, a mortgage insurance company based in the United States of America, to direct its marketing and communications strategy when it launched in the Canadian market. He has also worked as ministerial chief of staff for Veterans Affairs Canada, National Defence and Canadian Heritage, and has advised Fortune 500 companies on corporate affairs, communications and reputation management.

    Mr. Primerano served on the board of advisors for Clover Insurance Brokers, the oldest licensed brokerage firm in Canada and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and chaired the advisory board for Integrated Planning and Solutions, a multi-faceted insurance brokerage firm.

    Mr. Primerano is also an active volunteer within his community, particularly as a member of board of directors for Ontario Track 3, a charitable organization that gives children with disabilities access to alpine sports. He has received a Governor General’s award and the University of Toronto Arbor Award.

  • Murray Segal

    Following a distinguished career with the Ontario government, including eight years as Deputy Attorney General of Ontario and a stint as Deputy Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, Murray Segal now practises as an independent legal counsel and consultant in Toronto. His practice focuses on assisting the public and broader public service improve the delivery of services.

    Mr. Segal was chief legal advisor to the Government of Ontario as well as advisor to Cabinet, the Attorney General, other ministers and deputy ministers. In that capacity, he oversaw all government litigation. He is also experienced at developing legislation. Prior to his time as Deputy Attorney General, Mr. Segal was the Chief Prosecutor for the Province of Ontario, leading the largest provincial prosecution service in Canada.

    Mr. Segal is certified as a Criminal Law Specialist by the Law Society of Ontario and is the author of numerous legal publications, with a particular focus on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, disclosure and procedure. He also frequently participates in continuing education programs.

    Mr. Segal is a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Mental Health Association of Toronto and is on the Board of Trustees of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. In 2013, he was appointed a member of the Ontario Review Board. Mr. Segal released a report to the Province of Nova Scotia on the justice system’s handling of the Rehtaeh Parsons matter. In 2020, he co-authored a report for the Ontario government on improving Ontario Provincial Police workplace culture with an emphasis on sound mental health.

Prince Edward Island

  • Both positions are currently vacant


  • Maria R. Battaglia

    Maria R. Battaglia graduated with honors from McGill University in 1989 with both a Civil Law and a Common Law degree. She has been a member of the Bar since 1990 and is an accredited family mediator.

    Her law office deals with all aspects relating to family matters including family mediation. The firm has expertise in areas of separation and divorce, child protection, child and spousal support, custody rights, division of assets and succession.

    Additionally, she is a broadcaster, having been formerly the host of “Family Law with Maria Battaglia” news talk radio CJAD am and a regular contributor on both CTV and Global Television.

    She is a regular speaker at various legal and community events and sits on various boards including the Family Lawyer Association.

  • one position is currently vacant


  • Greg Poelzer

    Dr. Greg Poelzer is a professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan. He co-leads the Fulbright Arctic Initiative III program and is Co-Director of the Community Appropriate Sustainable Energy Security Partnership grant, which spans 17 Indigenous and northern communities across Canada, Alaska, Norway and Sweden. He is also the lead of the University of Saskatchewan’s flagship program, Renewable Energy in Remote and Indigenous Communities, and the lead of the UArctic Thematic Network on Renewable Energy. Dr. Poelzer was also the founding director of the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development and the former dean of Undergraduate Studies at the University of the Arctic.

    For over 25 years, Dr. Poelzer has conducted research focused on comparative politics and policy as they relate to Indigenous relations, energy, resource development and capacity building in the North. He has written extensively on the historical and contemporary aspects of communities located in the circumpolar north and the Canadian sub-Arctic, focusing on Indigenous development and the development of the mining and energy sectors. His previous work examined community engagement in environmental assessments for resource development, strategic environmental assessments for Arctic offshore energy planning and development, and Indigenous political culture in northern Saskatchewan.

    He and his co-authors were awarded the Donner Prize for excellence and innovation in Canadian public policy writing for their 2008 book, Arctic Front: Defending Canada in the Far North. His second co-authored book, From Treaty Peoples to Treaty Nation: A Road Map for All Canadians, published in 2015, focuses on Indigenous success stories and approaches to improved Indigenous-government relationships, and was shortlisted for three book awards.

  • one position is currently vacant


  • Carl Friesen

    Carl Friesen has a degree in geomatics engineering from the University of Calgary and a degree in biochemistry from the University of British Columbia.

    A Yukon businessman, husband to wife Robyn and father to two children, Zoë and Jeremy, Mr. Friesen is a senior partner and Vice-President at Underhill Geomatics Ltd. (Underhill and Underhill). He is also a professional engineer, a Canada Lands Surveyor, a British Columbia Land Surveyor and a Fellow of Engineers Canada.

    Mr. Friesen joined Underhill in 1971 and became a partner in 1989. He has managed branch offices and carried out large-scale project management and legal and engineering survey projects in all regions of Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and British Columbia, in addition to undertaking international projects. He is a specialist in legal surveys on Canada Lands, engineering surveys, logistical organization, land claim surveys, GPS, and photographic and conventional geodetic control surveys.

    Mr. Friesen remains active in the activities of business and social committees in Yukon and on the national level. He is a past member of the Jack Hulland School Council, past president of the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors (ACLS) and past president of Engineers Yukon, ACLS representative on the Canadian Council of Land Surveyors, and he is currently a director of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Yukon Covid Business Advisory Council and the founder/initiator of the Yukon Industry Conference.

  • Diane Strand

    Diane Strand is a member of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) and belongs to the Crow Clan of the Southern Tutchone people.

    Diane obtained a Business Administration diploma from Yukon College in 1996, a Personal Life Coach Certificate from the Rayner Institute in Calgary in 2014 and an Advanced Integrative Energy Healing Certificate from Langara College in Vancouver in 2017.

    Diane recently retired from her many years of employment with CAFN, a self-governing First Nation, occupying several positions: Heritage Resource Officer, Chief, Director of two departments and most recently Senior Director of Citizen Services. She is currently operating her independent business, Crows Light Consulting, which includes consulting, energy healing and workshop delivery related to community and individual healing.

    Possessing a wealth of volunteer and board experience, Diane is currently a board member of the Yukon First Nations Cultural & Tourism Association and a dance group leader for the Dakwäkäda Dancers, a Southern Tutchone traditional dance group.

    Diane currently lives in Haines Junction and is the mother of three grown children and a grandmother to six children.

How are the members appointed to the Advisory Board?

The Governor in Council, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, appoints the Advisory Board members. Consultations with provincial or territorial governments are undertaken in order to inform the appointment of provincial or territorial members.

How long is each Advisory Board member’s term?

Federal members of the Advisory Board each serve two-year terms and the provincial or territorial members each serve one-year terms.

May an Advisory Board member’s term be renewed?

Yes, a member’s term may be renewed.

Are members of the Advisory Board paid for their services?

Advisory Board members are entitled to a per diem rate which is consistent with the Remuneration Guidelines for Part-Time Governor in Council Appointees in Agencies, Boards and Commissions. This per diem range is $375-$450 for members and $550-$650 for the Chairperson.

Can I contact the Chair or other members of the Advisory Board?

Yes. The Secretariat for the Advisory Board is responsible for managing the Board’s correspondence. Click here to find out how to contact the Advisory Board.

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