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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appoints six new senators for Quebec

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced six new senators to fill vacancies in Quebec, including a doctor, an environmental scientist and a public servant. Quebec Ombudsman Raymonde Saint-Germain, one of the appointees, arrives at a news conference at the provincial legislature, in Quebec City in a February 18, 2016, file photo.

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Independent senators now outnumber their colleagues affiliated with a political party after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau filled six vacancies in Quebec on Wednesday.

The new senators include a doctor, an environmental scientist and a mayor.

Newly appointed Sen. Eric Forest, currently mayor of Rimouski, Que., said Trudeau promised he and his colleagues would have "independence of thought."

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"Looking to the challenge of renewing the upper chamber, he said he was counting on me, that he was expecting an important contribution from me due to my experience at the municipal level and with the (outlying) regions," Forest said.

The other senators include Rosa Galvez, a professor at Laval University originally from Peru, who has focused much of her research on pollution.

Marie-Francoise Megie is a longtime family physician and professor at Universite de Montreal.

Renee Dupuis is an influential human rights and indigenous issues lawyer who won the Governor General's Award in 2001 for her non-fiction book, "Justice for Canada's Aboriginal Peoples."

Also nominated is Marc Gold, a prominent member of the Jewish community and former professor, along with Raymonde Saint-Germain, Quebec's current ombudswoman.

Trudeau's announcement followed his appointment last week of six new senators from Ontario who, like their colleagues from Quebec, are also not affiliated with political parties.

The appointees were selected through a process that involved more than 2,700 applicants who were screened by an advisory board that came up with a short list for each seat.

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There are now 44 Independent senators, 40 Conservatives and 21 others who still consider themselves Liberals despite being kicked out of the party's caucus by Trudeau.

A group of Independent senators have already asked for the same resources given to their party-affiliated colleagues, including reserved spaces on committees studying legislation.

Conservative Sen. Claude Carignan didn't appear to be too warm to that idea.

"Normally, it's the tradition to come up with (composition of committees) during the throne speech," he said.

"It has always been like that. We agree there's going to be a large number of independent senators who are coming in, so we will see how to make sure they fulfil their duties and they assure us they will also be present."

Another Conservative senator, Bob Runciman, said the new independent senators are "really in-the-closet Liberals."

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Here's a brief look at each:

Renee Dupuis

A lawyer and writer, Dupuis specializes in the fields of administrative law, human rights and indigenous law. She chaired the Indian Specific Claims Commission, a federal commission of inquiry, and the Barreau du Quebec's committee on the rights of aboriginal peoples. She has also worked on training activities for women and women's support organizations. Her book, Justice for Canada's Aboriginal Peoples, won the 2001 Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction.

Eric Forest

Mayor of Rimouski since 2005, Forest has worked on development in eastern Quebec for over 40 years. He chaired the Union of Quebec Municipalities for almost four years, from 2010 to 2014. He has specialized in working with youth and is committed to encouraging young people and women to become involved in politics.

Marc Gold

He is a lawyer and law professor. In his early career, he taught at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, published extensively, lectured throughout Canada and abroad and helped train federal judges in constitutional law and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. After leaving full-time academic work, he held major leadership roles in the Jewish community at the local, national and international levels, including serving as chair of Jewish Federations of Canada. For 23 years, he was also vice-president of Maxwell Cummings and Sons, a family-owned Montreal private real estate and investment firm.

Marie-Francoise Megie

She spent more than 35 years as a family physician and nearly 30 years as a university professor. She arrived in Quebec in 1976, from Haiti, and rose through the ranks of the medical profession and university teaching, becoming a clinical associate professor in the department of family medicine at the Universite de Montreal. Her medical practice includes providing home health care services for seniors, persons with severe disabilities and end-of-life patients. Since 2006 she has been the editor-in-chief of the newsletter of the Association Medecins Francophones du Canada.

Raymonde Saint-Germain

She was appointed Quebec's ombudsperson in April 2006 and re-appointed for a second five-year term in 2011. She had a long career as a Quebec public servant, serving as assistant deputy minister of International Relations, deputy minister of Government Services and deputy minister of Citizenship and Immigration. She served as vice-chair (2009-2013) and chair (2013-2015) of the Association des ombudsmans et mediateurs de la francophonie.

Rosa Galvez

An immigrant from Peru, Galvez spent more than 32 years in Canada and is a leading expert in the field of environmental pollution and pollution control. She has worked on recycling, restoration of ecological services and protection of non-renewable natural resources and has consulted with . She holds a PhD in environmental engineering from McGill University. She has been a professor at Laval University since 1994 in the civil and water engineering department and head of the department since 2010.

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