About the Senate

What is the Senate? 

The Parliament of Canada consists of three elements: The Queen, the House of Commons and the Senate. The Senate is the upper house of Parliament and is constituted by appointed Senators. More information is available on the Senate website

What is the role of the Senate? 

The Senate’s fundamental role is to be a complementary legislative body to the elected House of Commons in providing sober second thought. In that role, the Senate acts essentially as a reviewing chamber on proposed bills before they are passed. The Senate has a fundamental role to play as a chamber for the representation of regional interests. The Senate has become an important institution for the representation of minority interests and groups who may be underrepresented in the elected chamber (such as Indigenous peoples, minority language and ethnic groups, and women). In addition, the Senate’s committees play an investigative role in undertaking studies on important social and political issues facing the country, such as poverty, aging, unemployment, land use, and national defense.

What is the composition of the Senate? 

The Canadian Constitution provides that the Senate has 105 appointed members divided among the provinces and territories as follows:

  • Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan: 6 seats each
  • Ontario: 24 seats
  • Quebec: 24 seats (Quebec’s seats are allocated by electoral division)
  • New Brunswick and Nova Scotia: 10 seats each
  • Prince Edward Island: 4 seats
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 6 seats
  • Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut: 1 seat each.

How are Senators appointed?

Pursuant to sections 24 and 32 of the Constitution Act, 1867, the power to appoint individuals to the Senate is vested in the Governor General. By constitutional convention, the Governor General summons individuals to the Senate on the advice of the Prime Minister. To be appointed to the Senate, individuals must meet the constitutional qualifications in the Constitution Act, 1867 (e.g. in terms of age, citizenship, property, and residency). Once appointed, Senators serve until they reach the mandatory retirement age of 75, or until they choose to step down. They are not required to run in an election.

What does the job of a Senator involve? 

There is a lot of variety in the interesting and demanding duties of a Senator’s job. Typically, a Senator participates in sessions in the Senate Chamber, works on committees, holds business meetings, manages an office and travels regularly to the specific region of Canada the Senator represents.

More information about the job of a Senator is available on the Senate of Canada website.

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