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The Speakers of the Senate of Canada


Right Hon. Raoul Dandurand
P.C., K.C., B.C.L. (1905–1909)

Raoul Dandurand, a Montréal corporate lawyer, was one of the most influential politicians of his generation. With Charles Lanctôt, he published his first law text, Traité théorique et pratique de droit criminel (1890), when he was 29 years old, and a year later Manuel du juge de paix (1891). His wife, Joséphine Marchand, the daughter of Gabriel Marchand, a future Premier of Quebec, was a noted journalist and feminist.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier appointed him to the Senate at the age of 36, and he would serve for slightly more than 44 years. Laurier knew Dandurand through his work for the Liberal Party in Quebec, both as a trusted advisor and as an active participant in numerous elections. Nevertheless, Dandurand was a firm advocate of non-partisanship in the Senate, which he felt distinguished it from the House of Commons and led to better scrutiny and revision of legislation. Professor Robert MacKay of Cornell University maintained in 1926 that, as a result, “few, if any, senators have exercised such lasting influence on the character of the Senate as did Dandurand.”

In 1905, Laurier appointed him to the Speakership, and shortly afterwards Dandurand presided over a major reform to the Rules of the Senate. Previously, explicit provisions for the duties of the Speaker were almost non-existent, because Senate procedure was in part modelled on the U.K. House of Lords. The Senate amended the Rules in 1906 to empower the Speaker to intervene in debates to preserve order and decorum, similar to the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Dandurand resigned as Speaker in 1909, but his Senate and political responsibilities continued. He served as a minister in Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s Cabinets at various times between 1921 and 1942, and he was Leader of the Government in the Senate three times and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, also three times.

In addition to his Senate work, Dandurand was entrusted with representing Canada internationally. Perfectly bilingual, he was a Canadian representative at the League of Nations Assembly in 1924, President of the Assembly in 1925, and a delegate to the League’s Council from 1927 to 1930. In 1941, a year before he died, he was appointed to the Imperial Privy Council.

Dandurand was extensively involved with the League of Nations as a representative of Canada, including a term as President of the Assembly in 1925.

Next Speaker: Hon. James Kirkpatrick Kerr

Previous Speaker: Hon. Lawrence Geoffrey Power

Portrait of the Right Honourable Raoul Dandurand

Born: Montréal, Canada East, 1861

Died: Ottawa, Ontario, 1942

Professional Background: Law

Political Affiliation: Liberal

Political Record:

Prime Minister During Speakership: