Senate Renewal

Senate rules must be updated to reflect changing institution

More than 80 per cent of sitting senators are not linked to a political party in the House of Commons.

To reflect the reality of a more independent and less partisan institution, the Government team in the Senate is proposing a package of changes to the Upper Chamber’s rules.

The current rules are out of step with the dramatic shift in the makeup of the Senate over the past decade – 80 out of 96 sitting senators are not affiliated with either the Government or the Opposition, said Senator Marc Gold, the Government Representative in the Senate.

Changes to the Rules of the Senate would help ensure greater equity in the institution’s day-to-day operations by recognizing the evolving organizational structure, he said.

“I am firmly committed to the ongoing modernization of the Senate and that includes fostering conditions for senators to continue to thrive in this era of independence,” Senator Gold said. “These proposed changes represent the work of committee studies, as well as motions and debates in the Senate chamber, over the course of many years. The time has come to complete this work.”

In 2022, the Parliament of Canada Act was updated to recognize the growing contingent of independent senators and the various groups that they represent. There are now four groups in the Senate, in addition to the three-senator Government team.

The Senate’s internal processes and rules must now be updated in line with the framework legislation, Senator Gold said. The proposal addresses three broad themes:

  • The fair treatment of the Senate’s non-partisan parliamentary groups;
  • The modernization of parliamentary processes to improve operations; and
  • The introduction of new terminology stemming from changes to the Parliament of Canada Act.

Senator Gold tabled a notice of the motion on Tuesday, following weeks of consultation at the Senate leadership level. Debate on the motion is expected to begin on Thursday.

Senate rules must be updated to reflect changing institution