Special Senate Committee on Senate Modernization
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Individuals must meet the constitutional qualifications. The constitutional requirements for the job remain. You have to be at least 30 years old, be a Canadian citizen and own property worth at least $4,000, as well as at least $4,000 in other assets. Nominees will have to show they can bring an “independent and non-partisan” perspective to the Senate. (Canadian Press, 2015). Unlike the House of Commons, the Senate has no power in the decision to end the term of the prime minister or of the government. Only the Commons may force the prime minister to tender his resignation or to recommend the dissolution of Parliament and issue election writs, by passing a motion of no-confidence. Thus, the Senate power in the government is very limited.
One of the duties of the Senate is to represent the interests of Canada’s regions, provinces, territories, and minority groups. Seats in the Senate are distributed to give each major region of the country equal representation. The Senate works together with the House of Commons, assumes a role in Canada’s administration. Any bit of government legislation must be endorsed by both the House of Commons and the Senate for it to end up as law
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 and Quebec 24 seats
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
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Standing in the Senate:
Independent Senators 41
Conservative Party of Canada 33
Liberal Party of Canada 12
Vacant seats 14
(Senate of Canada, 2018).
A mandate of the Senate
The mandate of the Senate is to review, amend and either reject or approve bills passed by the House of Commons. The Senate works together with the House of Commons and assumes a role in Canada’s administration. Any government legislation must be endorsed by both the House of Commons and the Senate for it to end up as law. No bill can become law until it has been passed by the Senate.
Senators also study social, legal and economic issues through their committee work. The committee’s job is to give skilled thought to a bill. The Committees can influence the action of the government. In some cases, the Senate committees assist the citizens of Canada by bringing public awareness and clarification of some complex issues. The Senate basically creates a forum for the expression of views. A great example of this is Bill C-210. This was a private member’s bills that wanted to change the lyrics of O Canada to make them gender neutral. As all Canadians are aware; this was a heated debate all across Canada.
- Clarence Thomas – Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee
- Stephen Harper – A Government Selected by Canadians (11-28-08)
- Jeff Sessions – Opening Statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee
- John G. Roberts – Opening Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee
- Eric Holder – Opening Statement to Senate Judiciary Committee