The Speaker of the Senate is appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The Speaker's principal duty is to preside over the Senate's proceedings, ensure the orderly flow of debate, and interpret parliamentary rules, helping the Senate move through its daily business.
At the start of each parliamentary session, a senator is nominated by a selection committee to assume the role of Speaker pro tempore, or acting Speaker. The nomination is then confirmed through a vote in the Senate. The Speaker pro tempore serves whenever the Speaker is unable to attend a sitting of the Senate.
Senators who belong to the governing political party in the House of Commons are organized into a caucus, the leader of which is the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Appointed by the Prime Minister, the Government Leader often speaks for the Government during Senate debates on bills and answers questions on its behalf during Senate Question Period.
Just as supporters of the Government are organized into a caucus, other senators organize themselves into an Opposition caucus headed by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate.1 The Opposition Leader often articulates the policy positions of the Opposition during debate on Government bills, and coordinates the efforts of the Opposition in the Senate Chamber and in committees.
Both the Leader of the Government and the Leader of the Opposition have deputy leaders to support them in the preparation and management of day-to-day Senate business. The Government Deputy Leader works with the Opposition Deputy Leader to organize legislative business and determine the Senate sitting schedule.
Each major political party in the Senate appoints a senator to keep its members up to date on the business and schedule of the Senate and its committees, as well as to ensure the attendance and voting of its members. This person is called the Whip. Senate whips work to maximize participation when a vote is called in the Senate Chamber, and ensure full participation in committee meetings.1 Note that the Opposition in the Senate is formed by the non-Government party with which the most senators are affiliated. This means that the Opposition in the Senate and the Official Opposition in the House of Commons can be different parties.