The Senate

Examining and revising legislation, investigating national issues and representing regional, provincial and minority interests - these are important functions in a modern country. They are also the duties of Canada’s Senate. Senators represent, investigate, deliberate and legislate.

For 130 years, Senators have been working on behalf of all Canadians performing their role in providing Canadians with a first-class national Parliament by investigating, deliberating and legislating matters related to our relations with other countries, the banks where we deposit and borrow our money, and the way we care for our young, our poor and our elderly. All of these subjects and much more are discussed, argued and decided upon by the Senate today.

At the Quebec Conference of 1864, the Canadian founders of Confederation worked out a blueprint for the Constitution of the new country. They agreed to model our legislatures along the lines of Westminster in Great Britain, but adapted to Canadian society. The new national Parliament would have a mandate to make laws for the "peace, order and good government" of Canada. It would be composed of the Sovereign, an appointed upper house for the regions, called the Senate, and an elected lower house - the House of Commons.

The founders were convinced that Canada’s Parliament would need two houses to make sure that legislation received careful consideration. They gave the Senate legislative powers similar to those of the House of Commons, but anticipated a very different role for it. The Senate was to be, in the words of Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, a place of "sober second thought".

The founders spelled out the Constitution and responsibilities of Parliament, and of the Senate within Parliament, in a law they called the British North America Act. We now call that law the Constitution Act, 1867.

Today, the Senate consists of 105 senators from a wide variety of backgrounds from every province and territory in Canada. Its membership is about one-third the size of that of the House of Commons, and it operates at about one-fifth of the cost. Senators consult in their home provinces and then gather in Ottawa in order to make their contribution to Canada’s governance.

The Senate offers you a variety of ways to keep up-to-date on its work.

For general information:
Telephone Senate Communications at (613) 992-1149 or toll-free at 1-800-267-7362.
E-mail them at They can answer your questions, mail you an information package or forward your call or note to any other branch of the Senate.

For employment information:
Telephone Senate Human Resources directly at (613) 992-6943, or toll-free at 1-800-267-7362.

Please write to us with an inquiry, or to express your views:
Senate of Canada, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa K1A 0A4.

Check out the Senate on the Internet at ( You’ll find information on Senate debates, decisions and committee activities. The site also offers educational resources, visitor information, and senators’ biographies, mailing addresses and phone numbers.

Tune in to Senate committee activities as certain proceedings of the Senate and its committees are broadcast live over the Internet ( The Senate televises certain committee meetings live or on a delayed basis on the CPAC cable system. Check with your local cable company for the channel.

Watch the Senate at work from the chamber galleries or from the seating available to the public in the committee rooms. Sitting times are available from Senate Communications.

Senators care about what you have to say. Give us your ideas for the Senate today! You can be connected to a senator's office by calling our toll-free number at 1-800-267-7362. Letters addressed to senators are postage free.


"The Senate has a vital role as an institution forming part of the federal system created by the Act."

The Supreme Court of Canada in Re: Authority of Parliament in relation to the Upper House, [1980] 1 S.C.R. 54, at p. 66

©2008 All Rights Reserved | Disclaimer | Français
Web site Designed by Raguiluz Systems Inc.