The Senate is the Upper House in Canada’s Parliament. Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, famously called it a chamber of sober second thought but it is much more than that. It is a source of ideas, inspiration and legislation in its own right.
Parliament’s 105 senators scrutinize legislation, suggest improvements and fix mistakes. In a two-chamber Parliament, the Senate acts as a check on the power of the prime minister and cabinet. Any bill must pass both houses — the Senate and the House of Commons — before it can become law.
Senate committees scrutinize proposed legislation, examine government spending plans and investigate matters of importance to Canadians. Senators do this work through regular meetings where they hear directly from Canadians, who appear before the committee as witnesses to share their expertise and experiences.
I am on the Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology (SOCI), as well as on the Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration (CIBA). For more information about SOCI and CIBA, see below.
SOCI’s mandate is to examine legislation and to study issues related to cultural affairs and the arts, social and labour matters, health and welfare, pensions and housing. It is also responsible for considering fitness and amateur sport, employment and immigration, consumer affairs and youth affairs.
CIBA’S mandate is to consider all matters of a financial or administrative nature relating to the internal management of the Senate. It reviews and authorizes the budget applications of committees and sets guidelines and policies on items such as senators’ office management and financial matters.