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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


About this publication

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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada contains information from a variety of sources, both historical and contemporary. This publication does not attempt to provide exhaustive biographical information about each Speaker, but rather seeks to shed light on the tenure of each individual who has served as Speaker of the Senate of Canada.

Titles associated with the Speakers’ names reflect their lifetime achievements. Thus, an individual who became a member of the Privy Council or Governor General after his or her tenure as Speaker is referred to as “the Honourable” or “the Right Honourable,” even though these titles were not held during his or her Speakership.

The professional background identified for each Speaker includes only the field(s) of his or her primary work.

For simplicity, the political affiliations associated with each Speaker are identified using broad terms. As such, “Liberal” indicates a member of the Liberal, Laurier Liberal, or Liberal Progressive parties; “Conservative” indicates a member of the Conservative, Liberal Conservative, Unionist, National Liberal and Conservative, National Conservative, National Government, or Progressive Conservative parties. The affiliation attributed to each Speaker is the one that he or she held during the term of the Speakership.

For the purpose of this publication, a Speaker is considered to remain in office until a new Speaker is appointed; therefore, following a dissolution of Parliament, a Speaker continues to hold his or her position until a successor is appointed. There are, however, certain gaps in the timeline of Speakers’ tenure due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness or death.

It should be noted that until 1894 there was no provision for a replacement if the Speaker of the Senate was absent from the chamber: a new Speaker had to be appointed by the Governor General for the period of the absence. In 1895, a change was made to allow another senator to perform the duties of the Speaker during a temporary absence. In 1982, the Rules of the Senate were amended to provide for the election of a Speaker pro tempore at the beginning of each session. The Speaker pro tempore is effectively the deputy Speaker of the Senate, presiding over sittings whenever the Speaker is unavailable. The Speaker pro tempore remains in place until the end of the session.