Liberal Senator Nick Taylor, the former Alberta Liberal leader who retired from the Upper Chamber on Sunday, Nov. 17, on his 75th birthday, says Prime Minister Jean ChrÃ©tien should start appointing more opposition Senators in his final 15-month run in office. "I feel that anytime a Conservative Senator retires, should think of replacing him or her with a Conservative because it does no good for the Senate's reputation and for scrutinizing government business if you let the opposition get too weak," said Sen. Taylor, who spent six years in the Senate, in an interview with The Hill Times last week. "There are Conservative Senators who will be retiring in the next year or two and I think he would be wise to replace them with Conservative or Alliance Senators." The long-time Liberal and ChrÃ©tien supporter, who's had the difficult task of being the party's front-man on energy policy over the past three decades in Grit-hostile Alberta, said his seat should remain Liberal Red but that retired opposition members should be replaced accordingly. There are currently 10 vacant seats in the Upper Chamber, four of which used to belong to the opposition. The vacancies exist in eight provinces: Ontario (2), Quebec (1), Prince Edward Island (1), New Brunswick (2), Saskatchewan (1), Nova Scotia (1), Manitoba (1), and Alberta (1). Sen. Taylor's retirement has prompted members of the opposition in both Houses of Parliament to renew the call to correct the growing imbalance in the Upper Chamber dominated by 60 Liberals who are opposed by 30 Tories, four Independents and one Alliance Senator. Alliance Sen. Gerry St. Germain, who used to be a Tory Senator, crossed to the Alliance in the Upper Chamber. Since Mr. ChrÃ©tien (Saint Maurice, Que.) became Prime Minister in 1993, he has appointed 63 Liberal Senators and only two Independents. Alliance House Leader John Reynolds (West Vancouver Sunshine Coast, B.C.) says Sen. Taylor's retirement represents a golden opportunity for the Prime Minister to respect the wishes of Albertans who elected two Senators-in-waiting four years ago. In 1998, in a province-wide election -- which Mr. Reynolds said was the biggest in Canadian history -- farmer Bert Brown and University of Calgary professor Ted Morton received more than 250,000 votes each in the Alberta Senate election. Mr. Reynolds added that Sen. Taylor's seat should go to Bert Brown who got the most seats. "The Liberals are obviously going to control the Senate for a long-time right now and we believe the Prime Minister should start looking at appointing the Official Opposition," said the veteran politician and former Tory MP. Chances are slim, however, that the Prime Minister's Office will see fit to accommodate the wishes of Albertans. When the election for the two "Senators-in-waiting" was held, Mr. ChrÃ©tien discouraged card-carrying Liberals from running and then appointed Independent Senator Doug Roche (Edmonton, Alberta) before the vote. And two years ago, he elected to replace Tory Senator Ron Ghitter, who resigned in 2000, with Liberal Tommy Banks (Alberta). The PMO failed to comment on the matter after repeated requests last week. Today's Senate is starting to look very similar to the Senate of the late 1970s, when a succession of Liberal governments created a whopping majority for the party. Tory Senator Lowell Murray (Pakenham, Ont.), who was appointed by then-Tory prime minister Joe Clark in 1979, recalls that the Tories and the Liberals eventually reached an agreement to correct the growing imbalance. "By the 1970s, the opposition in the Senate was greatly outnumbered. So it was agreed that any Conservative Senator who resigned would be replaced by a Conservative and that Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau would select a Conservative from a list to be provided by ," he said. Under that agreement, two former Tory premiers were appointed by Mr. Trudeau: Georges Issac Smith of Nova Scotia in 1975, and Duff Roblin of Manitoba in 1978. Later, when Mr. Trudeau became Prime Minister again after Mr. Clark's ill-fated government fell to a confidence-vote, he appointed William Kelly of Ontario in 1982. Mr. Trudeau appointed other Tories during that time but not necessarily for non-partisan reasons. In 1978, he appointed Tory MPs Jack Marshall of Newfoundland and a year later Robert Muir of Nova Scotia to free up their seats in the House. The Liberals, however, won only one of those seats, with Sen. Marshall's going to the NDP. Of the 81 appointments Mr. Trudeau made during his 16 years in office, 11 were from the opposition -- seven Tories, three Independents, and one Social Credit. Sen. Murray says he is concerned that another imbalance is being created by Mr. ChrÃ©tien. "I think we're doing a pretty good job but for the place to work properly there's going to have to be more opposition Senators appointed. I don't think can let the opposition drop much more than it is now," he said. As for the Alliance's idea of having Alberta's two elected Senators, he dismissed it outright. "It doesn't make much sense. There's not going to be any elected Senators until there's a constitutional settlement in this country. So they might as well forget about it." Appointing elected Senators, however, is not totally without precedent. In 1989, Alberta elected Stan Waters and a year later the Manitoba native was sworn in by then prime minister Brian Mulroney as a Reform Party representative under pressure from then Alberta premier Don Getty. But insiders say Mr. ChrÃ©tien has too many loyalists to reward before leaving office in February, 2004 for him to consider appointing members of the opposition. Last summer, he appointed his long-time Grit campaign adviser David Smith. Some of the Liberals who may end up in the Upper Chamber before Prime Minister ChrÃ©tien leaves office include MP Mac Harb (Ottawa Centre, Ont.), Transport Minister David Collenette (Don Valley East, Ont.), MP Lawrence MacAulay (Cardigan, P.E.I.) -- who recently resigned from Cabinet over an ethics scandal -- and outgoing party president Stephen LeDrew. As for Sen. Taylor, who is a geologist by training, he says leaving the Senate made for a "bitter-sweet" experience. He added that he won't miss the long commutes in this world of heightened security. "The bitter part is that I enjoyed committee work and the people I worked with. The sweet part is that I'm not having to spend another 10 hours a week in airports and airplanes. It's an awfully slow process compared to what it used to be. The other sweet part is that one door closes and another two dozen open. After six years in the Senate, I wouldn't say I've become bored, but I've had a good run and I'm looking around for other things."