Minister Gould announces improvements to the Senate appointments process – applications open now!

News Release

Ottawa, February 21, 2018 – Keeping with her mandate to restore Canadians’ trust and increase participation in Canada’s democratic processes, the Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions, today announced a series of improvements to the independent Senate appointments process, making it easier for Canadians to apply for a seat in the Senate. 

Improvements to the Senate appointments process include:

  • keeping applications open year-round, so Canadians are able to apply for a Senate appointment at any time;
  • retaining submitted applications for two years, so that individuals can be considered for appointment to the Senate throughout the two years following the submission of their application; and,
  • adding the ability for organizations or individuals to nominate potential candidates. 

In order to make the Senate less partisan in its role to provide “sober, second thought” and represent regional and minority interests, the Government of Canada opened the selection process for Senators in 2016, to allow all Canadians to apply. The Government of Canada established the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments, an independent and non-partisan body mandated to provide non-binding, merit-based recommendations to the Prime Minister on Senate appointments.


“The strength of our democracy depends on Canadians from all backgrounds actively participating in our democratic institutions. I am pleased that the Government of Canada is improving the Senate application process in order to ensure that we can reach the highest calibre candidates for appointment. I encourage all qualified and interested Canadians to take advantage of this opportunity by applying for a Senate seat themselves or by nominating a potential candidate.”
‑ The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Democratic Institutions

Quick Facts

  • Canadians can now apply or nominate an individual for a Senate appointment year round.

  • For the next applications review cycle, the Independent Advisory Board will review applications that are submitted by April 3, 2018. The Board will retain applications received after this date for consideration for future opportunities.

  • Under the Canadian Constitution, the Governor General appoints individuals to the Senate. By convention, Senators are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister.

  • Since 2016, the selection process for Senators has allowed all Canadians to apply. Candidate submissions are reviewed by the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments, which provides the Prime Minister with recommendations. The Prime Minister selects the individuals he wishes to recommend to the Governor General for appointment to the Senate.

  • The Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments is guided by public, transparent, non-partisan and merit-based criteria to identify highly qualified candidates.

  • Since the establishment of the new Senate appointments process in 2016, 32 independent senators have been appointed.

  • There are currently 12 vacancies in the Senate.

  • At present, we are looking for Canadians to fill current and upcoming Senate vacancies in the following provinces and territories: Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Yukon.

Associated Links


For more information (media only), please contact:

Nicky Cayer
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Democratic Institutions

Media Relations
Privy Council Office

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