The Senate

Senators are appointed by the Governor General on the Prime Minister’s recommendation.

The formula for the number and distribution of Senators was written into the Constitution. In 1867, the Senate started with 72 members, but this increased as the country’s population and geography grew. The number of seats in the Senate is now 105. A Senator must be at least 30 years old and must retire by his or her 75th birthday.



British Columbia 6
Alberta 6
Saskatchewan 6
Manitoba   6
Ontario 24
Quebec 24
New Brunswick 10
Nova Scotia 10
Prince Edward Island 4
Newfoundland & Labrador 6
Yukon 1
Northwest Territories 1
Nunavut 1
Total 105

The Mace is the traditional symbol of the Senate’s and Speaker’s authority. Once the Mace is laid on the Table, the Senate is officially in session.

Chamber Business

The Senate has an important role in the law-making process: it reviews and debates bills proposed by both Chambers. Although Senators usually consider bills proposed by the House of Commons, they also suggest new bills (but these bills cannot be about spending public money or creating taxes). Bills must pass through both Chambers — the Senate and the House of Commons — and be given Royal Assent before becoming law. All debates that take place in the Senate are recorded and published in both official languages. In addition, Senators present petitions, table documents, discuss committee reports and make statements in the Chamber.


The Governor General can and does enter the Senate Chamber, but by tradition he or she does not go into the House of Commons. That is why the Speech from the Throne and the Royal Assent ceremony happen in the Senate.



Library of Parliament – Marc Fowler

1 Throne (This is where the Monarch or the Governor General sits to read the Speech from the Throne, which tells Canadians what to expect during a new session of Parliament, and gives Royal Assent.)

2 Speaker of the Senate

3 Clerk of the Senate and the Parliaments

4 Page

5 Senators

6 Mace

7 Murals (scenes from the First World War, 1914–1918)

8 Red carpet (red for monarchy)



As Senate pages, we get to see the action up close. We are all university students. Only 15 of us are chosen every year. I handle official documents and give messages to Senators when they are in session and in committee. Take a look at the picture on the next page and see if you can find one of us!