Mr. Charles Robert was named Interim Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the Parliaments in February, 2015. The position of Clerk of the Senate is a Governor in Council appointment made pursuant to paragraph 130(b) of the Public Service Employment Act.
The Clerk of the Senate serves as the primary advisor on the procedures and practices of the Senate, both in the Senate Chamber and in committees. He is also involved with the Senate Administration sharing this responsibility with the Chief of Corporate Services; and the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel together they are accountable to the Senate through the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the Speaker.
Mr. Charles Robert first came to Parliament Hill more than 35 years ago, beginning in the Library of Parliament before going to the House of Commons and finally, since 1991, coming to the Senate of Canada.
He has written several published papers on privilege and other topics related to parliamentary affairs.Since Confederation, Mr. Robert is the thirteenth Clerk of the Senate.
As one of the heads of the Senate Administration the Clerk:
(a) participates in the direction of the Senate Administration;
(b) helps to ensure the control and monitor the functions of the Senate Administration; and
(c) reports to the Senate through the Internal Economy Committee and the Speaker.
The principal functions of the Clerk of the Senate as Clerk of the Parliaments are:
(d) to organize and preserve the records of Parliament; and
(e) to provide access to and copies of those records as required by law or practice.
There are a number of statutes which apply to the Clerk. For example, section 31 of the Constitution Act sets out the qualification requirements of senators and the Clerk is responsible for the administration of two of these: property qualification and attendance. The Clerk administers the Oath of Allegiance set out in the Fifth Schedule to newly appointed senators. The Official Languages Act affirms that English and French are the official languages in Canada and the Clerk ensures that information services and products are available in both languages of equal equality. He must be cognizant of the provisions of the Royal Assent Act, since the arrangement of this procedure is his responsibility. The Publications of Statutes Act designates him as the custodian of all the original acts passed by the legislatures of the former provinces of Upper and Lower Canada and the former Province of Canada, as well as the original acts of Parliament. The Clerk is also responsible for the certification of all copies of acts required by courts of justice or interested individuals and on average, he certifies over 600 copies a year.
Finally, the Clerk of the Senate plays an active role in national and international parliamentary associations.
The Clerk of the Senate and the Table Officers sit at the centre aisle of the Senate Chamber. They advise the Speaker and senators on parliamentary procedure and assist with the orderly dispatch of each day’s business. The Table Officers record the time taken by senators during debate, call out the items on the daily agenda, keep the Clerk’s Scroll on which the Senate’s official record is based and call out senators’ names during standing votes.