Terms of reference for the Advisory Board


1 The Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments (“Advisory Board”) is an independent and non-partisan body whose mandate is to provide non-binding merit-based recommendations to the Prime Minister on Senate nominations.

Composition of the Advisory Board

2 (1) Members of the Advisory Board are appointed pursuant to paragraph 127.1‍(1)‍(c) of the Public Service Employment Act as special advisers to the Prime Minister.
(2) The Advisory Board is to consist of:
(a) three permanent federal members (“federal members”), one of which is to be appointed as Chairperson; and
(b) two ad hoc members chosen from each of the provinces or territories where a vacancy is to be filled (“provincial members”)‍.
(3) The federal members must participate in deliberations relating to all existing and anticipated Senate vacancies.
(4) The provincial members must participate only in deliberations relating to existing and anticipated Senate vacancies in their respective province or territory.

Length of Advisory Board terms

3 (1) The members of the Advisory Board are to be appointed for a term not exceeding three years.
(2) Despite subsection (1), the initial appointments of the federal members will vary in length in order to permit the staggering of terms, as follows:
(a) the term of the first Chairperson is 30 months;
(b) the terms of each of the first two other federal members are 24 months and 18 months respectively.
(3) The terms of Advisory Board members may be renewed.
(4) The Advisory Board is to be convened at the discretion and on the request of the Prime Minister who may establish, revise or extend any of the timelines set out in this mandate.


4 The Advisory Board is to be supported by the Privy Council Office. The head of the Senior Personnel Secretariat, or his or her delegate, acts as an ex officio secretary to the Advisory Board.


5 In accordance with the terms of this mandate, the Advisory Board must provide to the Prime Minister for his consideration, within the time period set by the Prime Minister upon the convening of the Advisory Board, a list of five qualified candidates for each vacancy in the Senate with respect to each province or territory for which there is a vacancy or anticipated vacancy and for which the Advisory Board has been convened. The Prime Minister may take into consideration all of the qualified candidates with respect to all vacancies for that province or territory.

Recommendation process

6 The members of the Advisory Board must:
(a) at all times, observe the highest standards of impartiality, integrity and objectivity in their consideration of all potential candidates;
(b) meet at appropriate intervals to set out its agenda, assess candidates, and engage in deliberations;
(c) apply fairly and with consistency the criteria provided by the Prime Minister in assessing whether potential candidates meet the qualifications, including those set out in the Constitution Act, 1867, for Senate appointments;
(d) interview potential candidates, at the Advisory Board’s discretion, and verify any references provided by potential candidates;
(e) in establishing a list of qualified candidates, seek to support the Government of Canada’s intent to achieve gender balance and to ensure representation of Indigenous peoples and linguistic, minority and ethnic communities in the Senate; and
(f) comply with the Privacy Act, the Conflict of Interest Act, and the Ethical and Political Activity Guidelines for Public Office Holders.
7 (1) The members of the Advisory Board must declare any direct or indirect personal interest or professional or business relationship in relation to any candidate if such an interest or relationship could reasonably be considered to represent an actual or perceived conflict of interest.
(2) The declaration set out in subsection (1) must include a statement as to any gifts or hospitality received by the member from the candidate.
(3) If such a declaration is made, the Advisory Board must decide, having regard to the nature of the relationship, if the member must withdraw from any deliberation about the candidate.
(4) If the Advisory Board decides that the member must withdraw from any deliberation in relation to a candidate, those deliberations are undertaken by the remaining members of the Advisory Board, provided the number of members is not less than three.


8 (1) In this mandate, “transitional process” means the initial recommendations to be made by the Advisory Board in early 2016 for the appointment of five Senators in order to fill two vacancies in Ontario, one in Quebec and two in Manitoba.
(2) Under the transitional process, the Advisory Board must undertake consultations, which could include groups which represent Indigenous peoples and linguistic, minority and ethnic communities, provincial, territorial and municipal organizations, labour organizations, community-based service groups, arts councils, and provincial or territorial chambers of commerce, in order to ensure that a diverse slate of individuals, with a variety of backgrounds, skills, knowledge and experience desirable for a well-functioning Senate are brought forward for the consideration of the Advisory Board.
9 Subsequent to the transitional process, an open application process is to be established to allow Canadians to apply for appointment to the Senate.
10 Advisory Board members may travel for the purpose of performing their functions, including for meeting with candidates and individuals or groups as part of their consultations.


11 (1) All personal information provided to, and deliberations of, the Advisory Board are confidential and must be treated in accordance with the provisions of the Privacy Act.
(2) Any records created or received by the Advisory Board members that are under the control or will be under the control of the Privy Council Office are subject to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.
(3) The members of the Advisory Board must maintain as confidential any information brought before them in the conduct of their work.
(4) Members of the Advisory Board must sign a confidentiality agreement as a precondition of their appointment.
12 No candidate is to be named publicly without their prior written consent.


13 (1) Within three months after submitting the names of qualified candidates to the Prime Minister, under the transitional process and following each subsequent appointment process, the Advisory Board must provide a report, in both official languages, to the Prime Minister that contains information on the process, including on the execution of the terms of reference, the costs relating to the Advisory Board’s activities and statistics relating to the applications received.
(2) In addition, the report may provide recommendations for improvements to the process.
(3) The report must be made public.

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