A longtime eastern Ontario MPP is joining the Senate as one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's five new appointees, giving the Tories a majority of seats in the upper house.

Even with the appointment, Leeds-Grenville MPP Bob Runciman says he remains focused on provincial politics.

In a statement, he added that he was “deeply honoured” to be was asked to join the prime minister’s caucus as a Senator.

Career in provincial politics

Runciman, who’s from Brockville, has represented Leeds-Grenville at the provincial legislature since 1981 and is considered one of the top members of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Party.

He served as interim leader of the party in 2009 following the resignation of former party leader John Tory until the appointment of Tim Hudak.

He also served as leader of the opposition at Queen’s Park for six months in 2005 following the resignation of former premier Ernie Eves.

Five new Senators

Runciman is one of two Ontarians, one Quebecer and two Atlantic Canadians to be named to the Senate on Friday.

Indian-Canadian businessman Vim Kochhar, president of the Vimal Group of Companies, is the other Ontario appointee.

Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, a Quebec victims’ rights advocate, has also been named to the Senate. Newfoundland and Labrador’s former auditor general, Elizabeth Marshall, and Rose-May Poirier, a current New Brunswick MLA and former cabinet minister, round out the list of new Senate picks.

Crime bill

The appointments will give the Tories 51 seats in the upper chamber, compared to 49 seats for the Liberals. It will leave the Senate’s five independent members holding the balance of power.

The prime minister said he intends to push forward with the government’s “tough-on-crime agenda,” which he will do with the help of the newest members of the Senate.

“These new Senators are committed to community safety and justice for the victims of crime,” Harper said. “I look forward to working with each towards making our communities safer and protecting families from crime.”

Harper criticized the Liberal members for abusing their Senate majority “by obstructing and eviscerating law and order measures that are urgently needed and strongly supported by Canadians.”

With a report from CTV.ca and files from The Canadian Press