Senate of Canada

The Canadian Senate (English: Senate of Canada, French: Le Senate du Canada ) is, like the Canadian monarch and the House of Commons (English: House of Commons, French: Chambre des communes ), a part of the Canadian Parliament.

The Canadian Parliament is modeled after the British Westminster system. In line with this, the Senate is called the " upper house " (English: Upper House, French: chambre haute ), the House of Commons as " the House " (English: Lower House, French: chambre basse ) refers. This designation is in line with the protocol-related hierarchy but makes no statement about the political importance. De facto is the lower house much more influential. Although formally the approval of both chambers is required to pass a law, the Senate has only in exceptional cases back a bill. The Senate has no possibility of the Prime Minister and other Ministers to appoint or remove. Tax laws must always be constitutional begin their way in the House.

In the Senate, sitting 105 deputies who are appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Canadian Prime Minister. The seats are divided by region. As the number of senators per region has remained the same since 1867, resulting in the meantime large disproportion in the representation in proportion to population. The senators have no fixed term of office, but may resign until the age of 75 perceive.

The Canadian Parliament goes back to the Constitution Act of 1867. Proposals for reform of the Senate are almost as old as the Senate itself Major reforms have always failed so far but in the problems of a constitutional amendment necessary. Seat of Parliament and thus also of the Senate is the Canadian capital Ottawa.

  • 2.1 Regional composition
  • 2.2 senators
  • 2.3 List of Senators
  • 3.1 functionaries
  • 3.2 Course
  • 3.3 committees
  • 4.1 1867-1984: Tentative activity
  • 4.2 1984-1991: The opposition is forming
  • 4.3 Since 1991: vote defeats the government
  • 5.1 concepts
  • 5.2 Attempted constitutional amendments in 1985, 1987 and 1992
  • 5.3 Recent Developments 5.3.1 positions
  • 5.3.2 Harper Plan
  • 5.3.3 Murray - Austin Amendment

Position in the political system

Legislative tasks

Theoretically, the two Houses of Parliament have almost identical legislative rights: the approval of both chambers is necessary to ensure that a law can come into force. Exceptions are tax laws and constitutional amendments. Following the British tradition, the right of initiative for tax laws is up to the House of Commons. While these purely follows from the common law in the United Kingdom, the Canadian Constitution fathers oriented in this point on the United States: Article 53 of the Constitution Act of 1867 writes the privilege of the House are explicit. Whether the Senate ever has the right to influence the tax legislation to the constitutional text does not explicitly refer. The Senate itself is of the opinion that he definitely has powers of intervention, as long as these interventions do not increase the tax burden caused by a law. The House of Commons has never challenged the Senate interpretation.

According to Article 47 (1 ) of the Constitution Act of 1982, the lower house can overrule the Senate with constitutional amendments. However, it must be before a new vote expire 180 days after the failed vote. In all other areas of law, the Senate has theoretically the power to stop laws that exercises this against the democratically legitimized directly lower house but only rarely. Although a bill in both houses of Parliament can be introduced, most bills originate in the House of Commons. Since the schedule of the Senate, but is more flexible and allows more detailed discussion, it may happen that the government sends a particularly complex legislation in the Senate first.

Often, the Senate has more with the details as with the basic lines of a bill and provides numerous minor amendments, which are then also normally accepted by the House. Many bills reach the Senate, however, the end of the session, so that the Senate has virtually no time to examine the content. While the senators complained regularly about being passed over, but the bills nodded ultimately from for decades.

Until the 1980s, the senators believe that Senator Keith Davey ( Liberal Ontario) 1986, said: "Although we are not elected, we can block any and all legislative initiatives of the elected lower house. Not that we, given our unelected status, our powerful veto would ever use. Would we do it, it would put us immediately; and so it is as it should be. "

Since 1984, the Senate has actively turned into legislation. The Senate had not even made ​​use of its veto 1961-1985, he began to use since this often. He opposed the free trade agreement with the United States as well as the Goods and Services Tax (GST; French: Taxe sur les produits et services, TPS), the first nationwide sales tax in Canada. In the 1990s, the Senate rejected four bills from: C-43, which was to restrict the right to abortion, C -93, the federal authorities should merge, C -28, the privatization of the Lester B. Pearson Airport in Toronto, and C-220 which deals with profits from copyrights on actually committed crimes.

A task that normally is for the court system, the Senate perceived to divorce law of 1968. Distinctions were in Canada and 1930 in all provinces - then only in Quebec and Newfoundland - not possible in court, but only by a parliamentary decree. The Senate established in 1889 a special committee for divorces. Between 1945 and 1968 he dissolved example, in section 340 marriages a year.

Government control

The control possibilities of the Senate of the government are very limited. Above all, he has not the power to terminate the term of office of a prime minister or minister prematurely. Although cabinet members can come from both chambers in theory, most modern Canadian cabinets are composed almost entirely of members of the House. Normally, only a minister sitting in the Senate: The government leader in the Senate (English: Leader of the Government in the Senate, French: Leader du gouvernement au Senate ) - a minister who is specifically tasked to ensure cooperation with the Senate.

In rare cases, the government also appoints ministers from the Senate. The most recent example is Michael Fortier, who is a senator for Montreal concurrently Minister of Public Works and Services. Prime Minister Stephen Harper appointed him on 6 February 2006, when his minority government had no elected representatives from the region. Fortier stood before the 2008 elections back to run for the House, but ultimately unsuccessful.

Members of the Senate

Regional composition

According to the Canadian constitution, each province or territory of each can provide a certain number of senators. The constitution divides Canada this in four regions that can each provide 24 senators: the maritime provinces ( ten for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, four for Prince Edward Iceland ), western Canada (six each for Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta ), Ontario and Quebec. Quebec is the only province in which the Senators are each assigned to specific districts within the province - originally it was set up to ensure a proportional representation of English-and French-speaking senators. Newfoundland and Labrador provides six senators and one of any of the regions. The three Territories Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut sends one senator.

As a result of this arrangement are the three provinces with the largest population growth - Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta - now seriously under-represented in the Senate, while the maritime provinces are over-represented as serious. Thus, for example, British Columbia with four million inhabitants six senators, while Nova Scotia with less than a million inhabitants may occupy ten Senator items. The only province in the population and proportion of senators is approximately the same height, Québec.

Since 1989, select residents of Alberta " senators on demand" (English: senator - in-waiting ) to impart to their demand for directly elected senators emphasis. However, these elections are not binding, and so far sent the Governor-General only two of them actually in the Senate. Brian Mulroney struck in 1990 before the selected Stan Waters. Waters, however, died in 1991, a year after his client acceptance. The second was Bert Brown, who was elected in 1998 and 2004 and finally appointed on the recommendation of Stephen Harper in 2007.

Article 26 of the Constitution Act of 1867 allowed the Canadian monarch to appoint four or eight extra senators. Here, the prime minister proposes from each region per one or two senators. So far, the Prime Minister took the right once successfully claim: 1990 Brian Mulroney took a conservative majority in the Senate to pass the bill over the nationwide sales tax. He wanted to achieve this by the appointment of eight additional senators. Queen Elizabeth II succeeded his proposal, which is responsible for appointing the Prime Minister was, which is directly accountable to the House. 1874 Queen Victoria sat on the advice of the British Government on the proposal of additional senators by Alexander Mackenzie.


The Governor-General appoints the senators representing the Queen. De facto it in compliance with the " recommendations ", which expresses the Prime Minister. In practice it is found that a majority of senators are former ministers, former provincial premier or other formerly influential politicians. The Constitutional Law of 1867 establishes the conditions that must be met by a Senator. It includes non-citizens from Canada, as well as people who are younger than 30 years old. Senators have to be resident in the province for which they are appointed.

Due to the appointment procedure new senators come almost exclusively from the party of the incumbent Prime Minister, or are you at least close. A slight break with this tradition tried the Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin ( 2003-2006). He was of the opinion that large liberal majorities in the Senate, whose constitutional task significantly compromised and so constitute a weighty democratic deficit, Martin appointed five of 14 senators of his term from the opposition. Previously, only two Prime Minister ever opposition senators appointed in greater numbers, albeit at a far lower proportion than Martin: Pierre Trudeau (1968-1979; 1980-1983) appointed eight of 81 senators from the ranks of the opposition, Canada's first Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald (1867-1873, 1878-1891), nine out of 91 All other prime minister appointed together only nine opposition senators.

The Constitution Act sets certain minimum limits for the assets of the senators. A senator must be at least land in the value of $ 4,000 possess in the province, which he represents. In addition, he must have movable and immovable property items that exceed its liabilities by at least $ 4,000. Originally, these conditions were the law to ensure that only the economic and social elite access to the senator office had. Since the financial requirements but have never increased, they decreased drastically due to inflation since 1867. At that time corresponded to $ 4,000 as the value 175000-200000 today's Canadian dollars. Nevertheless, in 1997, the Roman Catholic nun Peggy Butts had to be Senator problems. She had sworn an oath and poverty decreed accordingly through no personal assets. The situation could only be resolved when her order her about writing a small piece of land.

Until the 1920s, only men had been appointed to the Senate. 1927 called for five women ( "The Famous Five" ) to the Supreme Court to comment on whether women can become senators generally. Specifically, they asked whether the governor general to the issues raised in the British North America Act "persons" ("... called qualified persons to the Senate, and ... every person so appointed, a member of the Senate and a Senator to be " ) were also women meant. In Edwards v. Canada ( Attorney General ), become known as the " Persons Case ", the Supreme Court unanimously decided that only men could be senators. The women wore their request before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, at that time the highest court for the British Empire, held the female senators quite constitutional. Four months later, the government of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King recommended the appointment of Canada's first female senator: Cairine Wilson of Ontario.

Originally took senators shall serve for life. Since the British North America Act of 1965, they may serve only until the age of 75. A senator loses his seat automatically if he does not visit the Senate for two consecutive parliamentary sessions. Likewise, a senator loses his mandate, which is found guilty of high treason or other serious crimes, which is insolvent or otherwise loses its original qualification.

The annual salary in 2006 was $ 122,700, with senators may have additional income from other public offices. Senators stand in the protocol-related ranking of Canada directly to members of the lower house. Senators are on average older than members in the House and have already gained experience in parliamentary normal case. In addition, many Prime Minister use the Senate for a broad representation of the population, so that the proportion of women as well as the higher of minorities than in the House.

List of Senators

  • Incumbent senators
  • Senators from Alberta
  • Senators from British Columbia
  • Senators from Manitoba
  • Senators from Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Senators from New Brunswick
  • Senators from Nova Scotia
  • Senators from Ontario
  • Senators from Prince Edward Iceland
  • Senators from Quebec
  • Senators from Saskatchewan
  • Senators from the territories



The chairman of the Senate is the speaker (English: Speaker, French: Président du Senate ). It appoints the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. He is assisted by a speaker " pro tempore " of the Senate elects the beginning of each parliamentary session. If the speaker does not participate in a session, the session Bureau took note of a speaker pro tempore. After the Parliament of Canada Act of 1985, the speaker can appoint additional senators who temporarily replace him.

The Speaker presides over the meetings and calls the individual senators to their speeches. If a senator believes that the Rules of Procedure of the Senate has been violated, he may have a "point of order" (French: point d' ordre ) gain a hearing in which the speaker chooses. This decision can overrule but as a whole the Senate. During the session, the speaker line is to remain impartial, though he is still a member of his party. His right to vote, he has like every other senator also. Current speaker is Noël A. Kinsella.

The Government shall appoint a senator who is responsible to represent their interests in the Senate, the government leader in the Senate. The appointed by the Prime Senator (currently: Marjory LeBreton ), in addition to its mandate also a minister in the Cabinet rank. It sets the agenda of the board and tries to involve the opposition in the legislature. His opponent in the opposition, the opposition leader in the Senate (currently: Céline Hervieux - Payette ), the determined leader of the opposition in the House. If the majority party in the House represent the opposition in the Senate, such as between 1993 and 2003, has appointed the Group of the Senate opposition leader their own.

Other officials who are not senators, are the Secretary (English: Clerk, French: greffier ), the deputy secretary (English: Deputy Clerk, French: greffier adjoint ), legal secretary (English: Law Clerk, French: greffier de droit ), and various other secretaries. Advise the speaker and the senators on the Rules of Procedure and conduct of the meetings of the Senate. The Usher of the Black Rod (French: Huissier de la Verge Noire ) is responsible for order and security within the Senate hall. He wears a ceremonial black ebony staff, from which derives its name. For security across the Parliament premises of Director General of Parliamentary Precinct Services (French: Directeur général des services de la Cité parlementaire ) responsible.


Throughout most of the history of the Senate internal flow was regulated very informal. It was based primarily on a belief in a " gentleman " behavior of all involved. After the political debates in the Senate became more violent in the 1980s, the Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was finally able to push through a much more restrictive rules of procedure. She gave his political opponents fewer opportunities to act against the Senate majority. Debates in the Senate tend normally but still to be less to run along party lines, to be applied less confrontational style and more often to end in consensus than in the House.

The Senate convenes Monday to Friday. The debates are public and are published verbatim in the " Debates of the Senate " or the " Débats you Senate ." Unlike in the House usually no live broadcasts of the meetings will be held. However, if the Senate deals with issues of particular public interest, he may allow.

The order of speech is due to the order in which the Senators rise to speak on the subject. The meeting President shall decide in unclear cases, but can be overruled in this decision by the Senate itself. Applications must be submitted by a senator and supported by another before they are debated.

The Constitution Act of 1867 sets the quorum fixed at least 15 senators present, including meeting President. Each senator may request the President of session, determine the quorum. If it is not given, the President may invite by means of a bell more located in the Parliament building senators to come into the meeting room. If even come together not 15 senators, the President must postpone the meeting until the next day.

Senators can debate either in English or French. You need their words to the entire Senate addressed by the members of the Senate with "honorable senators " (English: honorable senator, French: honor ables sénateurs ) address. Individual senators can not respond directly, but have to mention it in the third person. Each Senator may speak only once on a topic. The only exception is a Senator, who has made an important application, a study has suggested, or introducing a law; this has the right to answer, so he at the end of the debate may speak again. The talk time is basically limited. The exact limit depends on the object of debate, but most commonly set at 15 minutes. Government and opposition leaders are not subject to these time constraints. The talk time can be limited by a decision during a debate on. Similarly, the Senate may decide to end the debate once and move directly to a vote.

The first vote is conducted orally. The President in the Chair, the poll question and the senators respond either " yea " (for) or " Nay " ( against). The President in the Chair then announced the result of the vote. If at least two senators question the evaluation, followed by another vote. In this, " division" (French: vote par appel nominal) called rise until the yes voters and the secretary writes her name on. Thereafter, the same happens with the senators to reject the proposal. In the last passage then follow the abstentions. In all cases the Speaker participates in contrast to other custom vote. Ends a voting tie, the proposal is considered a failure. No votes from 15 members, the quorum will not be met, the vote is invalid.

The formal opening of parliament place at the beginning of each session is held in the Senate Hall to the members of both chambers of parliament. During the ceremony, the Governor-General thinks of his present in the hall seat, the throne speech, in which he sets out the Government's program for the coming session. Should stay the Queen during the State Opening of Parliament in Canada, also it can keep the throne speech.


The Parliament of Canada is a committee of Parliament. Committees advise detailed legislative proposals and propose changes. Other committees to monitor the work of government agencies and ministries.

The biggest Committee is of the " Committee of the whole" (English: Committee of the Whole, French: Comité plénier ), which consists of all senators and meets in the Chamber. In contrast to official plenary meeting of this committee applies to a different, more liberal rules of procedure - for example, the number of speeches that may issue an agenda item, a senator, unlimited. The Senate can resolve various reasons in the committee of the whole for yourself: to discuss a law in detail or to listen to statements. For example, ask the senators many future officials of the Senate before taking office in the Committee of the Whole according to their qualifications.

The standing committees of the Senate serve each have a specific policy area. There, the senators advise the pending bills. They also investigate on behalf of the Senate certain conditions and report their findings to the chamber;, they can perform both hearings and collect evidence. The standing committees are listed under each topic area from nine to 15 members and elect their own chairman.

Non- Standing Committees (English: Special Committees, French: comités spéciaux ) appointed by the Senate ad hoc, to deal with a specific topic. The number of members varies according to the Committee, but the composition is approximately reflect the composition of the entire chamber of parliament. You can deal (for example, the Committee for illegal drugs) with individual laws ( such as the Committee on the Anti - Terrorism Act (C -36 ), 2001 ) or whole topics.

Joint Committees (English: Joint Committees, French: comités mixtes ) consist of senators and members of the House. They are again only since the Senate began in the 1980s to develop independent political activity. Currently, there are two joint committees: the Joint Committee on regulatory review, which deals with delegated to him legislative projects and the Joint Committee on the Parliamentary Library, which advises the Speaker of the Senate and the House of Commons in the management of the library. The Canadian Parliament as a whole can not be convened permanent joint committees, which include non standing committees of the Senate operate similarly.


1867-1984: Tentative activity

The Senate was created in 1867 by the first British North America Act ( later renamed the Constitution Act of 1867 ). The Parliament of the United Kingdom united the province Canada (Quebec and Ontario) with Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to the new Dominion of Canada. The newly created Canadian Parliament was modeled on the British parliament and the most Canadian provincial parliaments into two chambers. The founding fathers decided against a Senate directly elected, because they think that in the provinces simply acted only as a doubling of the lower house and could not take their own position. Originally, the Senate 72 seats in which Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime provinces each had one-third of the deputies had.

The Senate should play in this division, the role of the House of Lords in the British Parliament: it should represent the social and economic elite. According to the then Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, it was a chamber of " sober deliberation " that would compensate for the democratic excesses of an elected House of Commons. In addition, he would represent the regions equally.

The Senate took during most of its history a party no active political role. Situations in which the Senate blocked a bill that had successfully passed through the lower house, there were only at intervals of several years. 1875, the Senate prevented the construction of a railway from Esquimalt to Nanaimo, British Columbia. In 1913 he stopped payments to the Navy. The Senate majority thought that voters should decide the then controversial topic in an election. The Liberals introduced decades the majority in the House, the government, and by the proposals of the Prime Minister thus the clear majority in the Senate. This did not change until 1984, when the Progressive Conservatives won the election and the Senate was suddenly in the party-political opposition. After a landslide victory for the Conservatives with 211 of the 282 seats in the House, the largest majority government in Canadian history. At the same time, this was the first Conservative election victory since 1963. Among the then 99 Senators were in 1984 73 members of the Liberals. The new leader of the opposition in the Senate Allan MacEachen announced from there to carry out a resolute opposition to the government.

1984-1991: The opposition is forming

In a time in which the House could barely have a functioning opposition and debates and disputes were there accordingly short, the Senate developed an unsuspected activity. The clashes started in 1985, when the Senate for a long time refused to approve the bill C- 11 through the issuance of new debt, there was not in the law, to which the money should be spent. The press criticized him for this, as financial matters were in their opinion, in the House of Commons. Between July 1986 and November 19, 1987 commuted a bill to the health system between the Senate and House of Commons. The House refused to accept the amendments proposed by the Senate, the Senate refused to accept the law in its original form. Finally, since the liberal senators were of the opinion that the House has the higher legitimacy, they abstained. The draft law was applicable with 27:3 and 32 abstentions and numerous absent senators law. 1988 finally refused the Senate to approve the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. before the House would not be confirmed by a new election in position. After the Conservatives could win the 1988 elections under Prime Minister Mulroney, the Liberals voted for the law.

In 1990, the opposition intensified further when the Mulroney government wanted to introduce a nationwide sales tax. Alone in the House she needed for nine months of discussion and the Senate was not willing to agree. Mulroney took on September 27, a largely unknown constitutional article, which allowed him to appoint eight additional senators and so to tip the majority in the chamber just in his favor. The Liberals took in a row all the possibilities of the Rules of Procedure and began a long lasting filibuster. At times, this process was for Mulroney " parliamentary terrorism". During the dispute, the Liberals fell in the polls at a historic low, but Mulroney's reputation took off. On 13 December, Parliament finally adopted the law. The senators then had to work through the Christmas break to do the work that had accumulated during the tax debate.

Since 1991: vote defeats the government

Despite the conservative majority, the government lost the first time after 1991 votes. A law that should tighten abortion rights, led on 31 January 1991 a 43:43, so it could not enter into force. Was this vote was in the lead after freedom of conscience and without whip, 1993 defektierten enough conservative senators to prevent a large-scale administrative reform (Bill C -93). The reform should dissolve and merge several government agencies. Particular contradiction of both the artist and the scientist reaped the attempt to merge the art promoting Canada Council with the responsible for the Humanities and Social Sciences Social Sciences and Humanities Council. The vote ended on 3 June in 1993 in a draw, which is a disagreement.

1993 Brian Mulroney stepped down as prime minister, his successor Kim Campbell lost the recognized of their elections on 25 October 1993 by a landslide, and the Progressive Conservative Party shrank to two seats in the House. The new Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien now had to deal with a conservative Senate majority. In 1994, the Senate announced promptly to reject electoral change of the Liberals, so that the government withdrew the law before the vote.

Much more violent were the arguments about the Pearson International Airport in Toronto, Canada's major commercial airport. One of Chrétien's main election promises was to make the introduced Mulroney privatization of the airport reversed. The Senate refused. The law shuttled between 7 July 1994 and June 19, 1996 between the houses of parliament. The vote ended in 48:48, which this law did not take effect. By threatening to appoint additional senators and get with the new majority, an identical bill by the Senate, succeeded Chrétien but to force the targeted buyers to withdraw from the purchase agreement in return for a compensation payment. Several other laws were not even in the Senate to vote because the government withdrew before. The era of an opposition Senate ended only when Chrétien appointed two new senators in April 1997. This overturned the majority situation clearly favored the Liberals. This was up to February 2006, the House and Senate majority again identical. After the Conservatives won the elections again in 2006, they began vigorously with further attempts to reform the Senate.

Senate reform


Proposals for Senate reform dive since the founding of the Senate regularly in the discussion. All Canadian provinces their second chambers have already been abolished. In 1947, a scientist MacGregor Dawson in his influential study of the Canadian system of government the Senate as " so slow and sluggish that it only seems able to fulfill the most formal functions ", " he has not fulfilled the hopes of its founders, and one does well to remember that those hopes were not very great from the beginning. " a first reform brought the Constitutional Act of 1965, the firm set a maximum age for senators of 75 years.

Above all, most of the proposals concentrated on changing the appointment process. But support from the wider public, they won only in the 1980s, after the Senate began to gain political influence. In addition, only allowed the Constitutional Act of 1982 Canadians, their constitution to change decisively, without taking the detour via the British Parliament.

First known example of widespread resentment against the Senate the responses to the National Energy Program, which Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1980 were prevailed against vehemently opposition in Western Canada. The law passed the Senate without opposition, as most senators of Trudeau's predecessor, also a member of the Liberal Party, had been appointed. In Western Canada, the discontent reached with the Senate for the first time momentum. Politician in Alberta protested against their low number of Senators in relation to population size and called for a three- E Senate ( Elected - elected; equal - equal to ( legitimate representation ); effective ). Proponents hoped that an equal representation of all provinces would protect the interests of the smaller provinces against Ontario and Quebec. A distribution according to this pattern, however, would not ensure equal representation per capita: Ontario, for example, has about one hundred times as many inhabitants as Prince Edward Iceland; a senator of the province had only one hundredth of the population represented, which would have represented a senator from Ontario.

Tried constitutional amendments in 1985, 1987 and 1992

After his problems with the C -11 Law 1985, the Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney attempted the Senate to withdraw the say on tax laws. The attempt at a constitutional amendment silted up after a short discussion of the parliaments of both Manitoba and Québec had sufficiently made ​​clear that they would not support the constitutional amendment: Manitoba because it would only support a complete abolition of the Senate, Quebec, since it is not the Constitution Act of 1982 recognized, based on the provisions of the whole process.

Mulroney proposed Meech Lake Accord in 1987 (French Accord du lac Meech ) before, a series of constitutional additives which a right to nominate senators conceded provincial governments, from which the federal government had to choose. Again he failed to winning the support of the provincial parliaments. The subsequent Charlottetown Accord ( Accord de French Charlottetown ) 1992 saw the right to be represented by an equal number of senators each province - either directly elected or appointed by the provincial parliaments. Mulroney tried in this start-up is not the way through the provincial parliaments, but had carried out a referendum. The Canadians rejected the constitutional amendment on 26 October 1992, 54.3 % to 45.7 % from where the enemy achieved good results particularly in Quebec and Western Canada. There criticized the Bloc Québécois (Quebec ) and the Reform Party (Western Canada ) in their major campaigns in each case the insufficient scope of the changes that would ultimately only consolidate the power of the elites in Ottawa.

Recent Developments


The New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois calling for the abolition of the Senate. Likewise, the Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, in favor of the resolution of the chamber. The Liberal Party has no official stance on Senate Reform, the Conservative Party supported the direct election of senators.

Harper Plan

The current Prime Minister Stephen Harper brought on 30 May 2006, the Bill S -4 in the Senate, which is intended to limit the term of office of the new senators to eight years. In addition, he promised before taking office to schedule each election to fill vacant places in the Senate. In contrast to the previous reform attempts, he wants to achieve this goal without a constitutional amendment. According to his plan, the Prime Minister proposes the respective election winner officially before the Governor-General.

In December, he brought the bill C-43 on "the survey of voters .. in relation to the appointment of senators " a. Then the Canadians choose their senators simultaneously with the federal or provincial elections. after the preferential voting system. Due to the constitution but the result is not binding. It is still actually propose the election winner of the Governor General in the decision-making powers of the Prime Minister. The composition of provinces within the Senate does not change the law.

Murray - Austin Amendment

To change the composition of the Senate, the Senators Lowell Murray (PC - Ontario) and Jack Austin ( Liberal - British Columbia ) proposed on 22 June 2006, a constitutional amendment. Then the Senate would be increased to 117 seats, increases the number of senators from Western Canada. British Columbia would be an independent region, the current six seats of the province would be divided among the other Western Canadian provinces. After the constitutional amendment British Columbia had twelve seats, ten Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba seven seven instead of the previous six. Likewise, the number of additional Senators the Queen can appoint increased, from four or eight to five or ten. A special committee of the Senate to reform the Senate supported the proposal on October 26 and referred the issue back to the Senate as a whole. The Senate, however, has not decided about it and now after the three-year period expired on constitutional amendments, the draft has become obsolete.


The Senate shall meet on Parliament Hill (French Colline du Parlement ) in Ottawa, Ontario. The Senate floor is called informally " red chamber " in reference to the red fabric, which dominates the hall color. Its interior design so that stands out from the green of the lower house. The Canadian Parliament follows the color design of the British Parliament, in which the House of Lords meets in a luxurious room with red interior, while the House of Commons debated in a sparsely furnished room green.

The seats of government and opposition party are the British parliamentary tradition along a central corridor opposite each other. The seat of the speaker is located at one end of the aisle, directly in front of the table for the secretaries. Members of the government sit on the right of the speaker, members of the opposition to its left.

Current composition

Because of the long reign of liberal Prime Minister, the Liberal Party for more than half of the senators. However, since the current Conservative government determines the most functional support and controlled the agenda, the Senate leadership is in the hands of the conservatives. The other main opposition parties in the House of Commons, Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party are not represented at all in the Senate. Senator Lillian Dyck described himself as a New Democrat indeed, since the party but rejects the Senate as a whole, they also refused to recognize Dyck as a representative; Dyck joined in 2009 by the Liberal group of. Similarly, the Liberal Party has the Senator Raymond Lavigne excluded ( but he sees himself quite yet as a party member). While the Progressive Conservatives were united at the federal level in 2003 with the Canadian Alliance to Conservative Party, refused three senators to take the leap with. Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed after two more senators who were renamed as Progressive Conservatives. Of the original five senators one is deceased, one came to the united conservatives in the party and a third in 2009 reached the age limit, so that at the federal level actually non-existent party nevertheless provides two senators.

As of July 12, 2010