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Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen resigns to become independent senator

Karen Sorensen announced on July 29, 2021, that she would no longer be serving as mayor of Banff or as a member of the Banff Town Council. Town of Banff

The mayor of Banff has resigned to accept a position in the Senate of Canada.

Karen Sorensen announced on Thursday she would no longer be serving as mayor of Banff or as a member of the Banff Town Council.

“It is a tremendous responsibility to be asked to represent the Province of Alberta at the federal level and I look forward to working hard to give voice to the diversity of groups that make up our nation,” she said.

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Sorensen was elected as a town councillor in 2004 and served for six years before winning Banff’s mayoral race in 2010. She had been serving her third term in that position.

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Sorensen said she was “humbled and incredibly honoured” by the appointment.

“After 17 years being privileged to serve the people of Banff, I am exhilarated to have this amazing opportunity in service to Canada,” she said.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the new senators on Thursday on behalf of Canada’s new Governor General Mary Simon.

Other independent senators announced on Thursday include David Arnot for Saskatchewan and Michèle Audette, Amina Gerba and Clément Gignac for Québec.

All of the new senators were recommended by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointment and chosen using a merit-based process that is open to all Canadians.

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Premier Jason Kenney called the appointments “another slap in the face for Alberta,” as the province is set to hold Senate elections in October.

“Today, Prime Minister Trudeau showed contempt for democracy in Alberta by appointing a hand-picked representative of Alberta to the Senate of Canada,” Kenney said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The premier said he “personally informed” Trudeau of the upcoming election during a July 7 meeting, and asked Trudeau not to fill two then-vacant Senate seats, allowing Albertans to vote.

Since the 1980s, Alberta has had four Senate elections and selected five nominees which went on to be appointed to “represent Albertans in Parliament democratically,” Kenney said.

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“As a forum of regional interests, the Senate plays a vital role in our federation,” Kenney said. “It is essential that Senators have a mandate from Albertans to ensure that they actually defend our vital economic interests.”

“Sadly, the prime minister’s decision to snub his nose at Alberta’s democratic tradition is part of a pattern of flippantly disregarding our province’s demands for a fair deal in the Canadian federation, and the desire of Albertans for democratic accountability.”

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