Senate of Canada

Senate of Canada

Infobox Legislature
name = Senate of Canada
Sénat du Canada
coa_pic =
coa-pic =
session_room = Senate of Canada.jpg
house_type = Upper house
leader1_type = Speaker
leader1 = Noël Kinsella
party1 = Conservative
election1 = February 8, 2006
leader2_type = Leader of the Government in the Senate
leader2 =Marjory LeBreton
party2 =Conservative
election2= February 6, 2006
leader3_type = Leader of the Opposition in the Senate
leader3 = Céline Hervieux-Payette
party3 = Liberal
election3 = January 18, 2007
seats = 105
members = 89
p_groups = Conservative Party
Liberal Party
Progressive Conservative Party
New Democratic Party1
meeting_place = Senate chamber, Centre Block, Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
website = [ Parliament of Canada]
footnotes = 1Senator Lillian Dyck claims membership in the NDP, but the NDP refuses to recognize on account of their opposition on principle to the institution of the Senate.
The Senate of Canada ( _fr. Le Sénat du Canada) is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the sovereign (represented by the governor general) and the House of Commons.


The Senate consists of 105 members appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the prime minister.Franco, 2006, pg. 3-42.] Seats are assigned on a regional basis, with each of the four major regions receiving 24 seats, and the remainder of the available seats being assigned to smaller regions. The four major regions are: Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and the Western provinces. The seats for Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut are assigned apart from these regional divisions. Senators may serve until they reach the age of 75.

The Senate is referred to as the "upper house" of Parliament, and the House of Commons is sometimes referred to as the "lower house". This does not, however, imply that the Senate is more powerful than the House of Commons, merely that its members and officers outrank the members and officers of the House of Commons in the order of precedence for the purposes of protocol. Indeed, as a matter of practice and custom, the Commons is by far the dominant chamber. Although the approval of both houses is necessary for legislation, the Senate rarely rejects bills passed by the directly elected Commons. Moreover, the government is responsible solely to the House of Commons; the prime minister and Cabinet stay in office only as long as he or she retains the support of the lower house. The Senate does not exercise any such control. Although legislation can normally be introduced in either house, the majority of government bills originate in the House of Commons. Under the Constitution, money bills must always originate in the House of Commons.


The Senate and the House of Commons sit in separate chambers in the Centre Block on Parliament Hill, which is located in Ottawa, Ontario.

The chamber in which the Senate sits is sometimes called the "red chamber", due to the red cloth that adorns the chamber as well as the throne. The red Senate Chamber is lavishly decorated, in contrast with the more modest green Commons Chamber. This decorative scheme is inherited from the British Houses of Parliament, where the Lords chamber is a lavish room with red benches, whereas the Commons chamber is more sparsely decorated and is furnished in green.

There are benches on two sides of the chamber, divided by a centre aisle. The speaker's chair is at one end of the chamber; in front of it is the clerk's table. Various clerks sit at the table, ready to advise the speaker and the senators on procedure when necessary. Members of the government sit on the benches on the speaker's right, while members of the opposition occupy the benches on the speaker's left (however, due to the large number of opposition senators, a number also occupy seats on the speaker's right).


The Senate came into existence in 1867, when the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the British North America Act, uniting the Province of Canada (which was separated into Quebec and Ontario) with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into a single federation, a Dominion called Canada. The Canadian Parliament was based on the Westminster model (that is, the model of the Parliament of the United Kingdom). The Senate was intended to mirror the British House of Lords, in that it was meant to represent the social and economic élite.Fact|date=April 2008 Canada's first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, described it as a body of "sober second thought" that would curb the "democratic excesses" of the elected House of Commons and provide regional representation.citequote As an upper house on the British parliamentary model, it was not meant to be more than a revising body, or a brake on the House of Commons. Therefore, it was deliberately made an appointed house, since an elected Senate might prove too popular and too powerful, and be able to block the will of the House of Commons.


The Governor General holds the power to appoint senators, although, in modern practice, he or she makes appointments only on the advice of the Prime Minister. Senators originally held their seats for life; however, under the British North America Act, 1965 (now known as the Constitution Act, 1965), members, save for those appointed prior to the change, may not sit in the Senate after reaching the age of 75. Prime ministers normally choose members of their own parties to be senators, though they sometimes nominate independents or members of opposing parties. In practice, a large number of the members of the Senate are ex-Cabinet ministers, ex-provincial premiers, and other eminent people.

Under the constitution, each province or territory is entitled to a specific number of Senate seats. The constitution divides Canada into four areas, each with an equal number of senators: 24 for Ontario, 24 for Quebec, 24 for the maritime provinces (10 each for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and 4 for Prince Edward Island), and 24 for the western provinces (6 each for Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta). Newfoundland and Labrador, which became a province in 1949, is not assigned to any division, and is represented by 6 senators, while the three territories (the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Nunavut) are allocated 1 senator each. Quebec senators are the only ones to be assigned to specific districts within their province. Historically, this was adopted to ensure that both French and English-speaking senators from Quebec were represented appropriately in the Senate.

Using representation by population as the guiding criterion for assigning seats in the Senate, Ontario, British Columbia, and Albertandash Canada's fastest growing provinces in terms of populationndash are currently under-represented, while the maritimes are the opposite. For example, British Columbia, with a current population of about four million, has been historically entitled to 6 senators, while Nova Scotia, with a current population of fewer than one million, has been entitled to 10. Only Quebec currently has a share of senators approximately proportional to its share of the total population. However, as with most other upper-houses worldwide, the Canadian formula does not use representation by population as a primary criterion for member selection, since this is already done for the lower house. Rather, the intent when the formula was struck was to achieve a balance of regional interests and to provide a house of "sober second thought" to check the power of the lower house when necessary.

(as of August 26 2008)


:1 The Conservatives control government business in the Senate due to holding the most seats in the House of Commons.

:2 Senator Raymond Lavigne was suspended from the Liberal Caucus on June 6, 2006 after allegations that he misused Senate funds for personal use but he still identifies himself as a Liberal Senator.

:3 When the Progressive Conservative Party merged with the Canadian Alliance to form the Conservative Party of Canada in 2004, all but three Progressive Conservative Senators became Conservative Senators. Two additional Senators who have chosen to sit as "Progressive Conservatives" were appointed on the recommendation of Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, over one year after the merger occurred. One of the five remaining Progressive Conservative senators died in December 2005, and another joined the Conservative caucus in March 2006 bringing the total to three.

:4 Self-designation by Senator Lillian Dyck. The New Democratic Party opposes appointments to the Senate and does not recognize Senator Dyck as a representative of the NDP or as a member of its parliamentary caucus.

:5 Senator Anne Cools was removed from Conservative caucus for speaking out against Prime Minister Stephen Harper and for voting against the 2007 budget. The [ The Parliament of Canada Web Site] lists her as Non-Aligned Senator.

:6 Vacant seats: Newfoundland and Labrador (1), New Brunswick (1), Nova Scotia (3), Prince Edward Island (1), Quebec (3), Ontario (2), Yukon (1), British Columbia (3)

"Source:" [ The Parliament of Canada Web Site - Party Standings in the Senate]

ee also

*List of Canadian senators
*List of Canadian senators who resigned and were elected to the House of Commons
*Speaker of the Canadian Senate
*Leader of the Government in the Senate (Canada)
*Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Canada)
*Canadian Senate divisions
*Monarchy of Canada
*List of Canadian Senate appointments by Prime Minister
*Canadian Senate Page Program



* [ Department of Justice. (2004). Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1982.]
* [ Forsey, Eugene. (2003). "How Canadians Govern Themselves."]
* [ The Parliament of Canada. Official Website.]
* [ A Legislative and Historical Overview of the Canadian Senate]


* Franco, Guida (2006). Canadian Almanac & Directory 2006. Toronto: Micromedia ProQuest, 3-42. ISBN 1-895021-90-1.

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