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Former U of O Chancellor Huguette Labelle will lead the Independent Advisory Board on Senate Appointments. Photo: CC World Economic Forum.

Canada’s government has announced that Huguette Labelle, a former chancellor of the University of Ottawa, will lead the Independent Advisory Board on Senate Appointments, an advisory body that suggests Senate appointments to the prime minister.

There are 22 spots that currently need to be filled, and the government has said they intend to fill them this year.

Labelle’s appointment comes as part of Trudeau’s announced strategy of making the Senate less partisan. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also been called upon to ensure gender equality in the Senate.

“You’re looking for somebody who has some good understanding of the legislative process and Canada’s Constitution,” Labelle told the CBC. “You’re looking also for people of the highest integrity, people with personal qualities of ethics and who believe in public life.”

The government has said it expects the board will make its recommendations for the first five vacancies by late February, with the official appointments taking place not long after.

Labelle served as chancellor of the University of Ottawa from 1994-2012. She also spent many years as a civil servant, including roles as president of the Canadian International Development Agency and undersecretary of state for the department of the secretary of state.