Trudeau appoints acclaimed New Brunswick writer to fill Senate vacancy
Justin Trudeau has named David Adams Richards, an acclaimed New Brunswick novelist, essayist, screenwriter and poet, to the Senate.
“His dedication to the arts, his love of place and of country will be an extraordinary asset to the independent thinkers in the Senate,” the prime minister said Wednesday during a news conference in Moncton.
Trudeau held up Richards as an example of the kind of “topquality people” named to the Senate since he created last year an arm’s-length advisory board to recommend merit-based nominees - all part of a bid to turn the upper house into a less partisan, more independent chamber of sober second thought.
“The changes we’ve made to have a more independent appointment process in the Senate, to strengthen Canadians’ confidence in the institution, to demonstrate that it can be a house of sober second thought that improves the quality of work done by our parliamentary institutions is something that is extremely important to me,” he said.
“And naming top quality people who are dedicated to their community and to their region and to their country is, I think, what Canadians most expect from the Senate of Canada.”
Richards, 66, is one of only three writers to have won the Governor General’s Award for both fiction
and non-fiction works.
He won the coveted Giller Prize in 2000 for his novel “Mercy Among the Children” and, in 2011, the Matt Cohen Award for his lifetime contribution to Canadian literature. He has also received two Gemini Awards for screenwriting, among other accolades.
Richards is writer-in-residence at New Brunswick’s St. Thomas University — a post he’s held at several universities and colleges across the country.
According to biographical notes issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, Richards’ “writings, through which he gives voices to the marginalized and helps to deepen the reader’s understanding
of the human experience, have been translated into 12 languages and are part of the curriculum of Canadian and U.S. universities.”
With Richards’ appointment, there are now eight remaining vacancies in the 105-seat Senate. Trudeau is to fill those seats “in the near future.”
Richards will presumably join the independent senators’ group, boosting its number to 36 — equal to the number of Conservative senators, who remain the last unabashedly partisan group in the Senate.
There are also 18 independent Liberal senators and seven senators who are not affiliated with any group.
David Adams Richards is shown in a 2003 photo.