Speaker of the Senate (Canada)

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Speaker of the Canadian Senate
Pierre Claude Nolin

since 27 November 2014
Style The Honourable
Appointer Governor general, on behalf of the monarch, and on the advice of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada
Inaugural holder Joseph Édouard Cauchon
Crown of Saint Edward (Heraldry).svg
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The Speaker of the Senate of Canada (French: Président du Sénat du Canada) is the presiding officer of the Senate of Canada. The speaker represents the Senate at official functions, rules on questions of parliamentary procedure and parliamentary privilege, and oversee debates and voting in the red chamber. This position is often misunderstood as being equivalent to that in the House of Commons, but it is not. The current speaker is the Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, a Conservative Senator representing the province of Quebec.

Appointment and precedence[edit]

The Speaker of the Senate is appointed by the governor general, on behalf of the monarch, and on the advice of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. By convention, however, this advice is generally expressed exclusively by the prime minister.

The Speaker of the Senate takes precedence only after the queen, the governor general, other members of the royal family, former governors general and their spouses, the prime minister, former prime ministers, and the chief justice on the order of precedence and, therefore, is qualified to represent Canada at official state functions, both in Canada and abroad.

History of the speakership[edit]

The role of the Speaker in the Senate was originally based on that of the Lord Chancellor in the United Kingdom. In keeping with the role of the Lord Chancellor, the Speaker of the Senate was expected to be partisan; they would, at all times, have the right to leave the chair, to participate in debates, and to hold an original vote—unlike the Speaker of the House of Commons, who has a vote only in the event of a tie.

The Speaker of the Senate was also similar to the Lord Chancellor, in being considered equal to other senators. Decisions of the chair were not binding on the Senate unless the speaker's decision was also the pleasure of a majority of senators. Also similar to the practice of the Lords was that the speaker would not intervene unless another senator brought the matter to the attention of the speaker. Decisions from the chair remain subject to appeals from the Senate.

Canada has more recently departed with the traditions of the House of Lords, notably since 1991, when new rules for the Senate were adopted. The new standing orders made it clear that the Speaker of the Senate could intervene without being called to do so by the Senate. The new guidelines move the Senate further from the self-governing practices of the House of Lords, and more toward the chair-governed customs of the House of Commons.

The position was predecessed by the Speaker of the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada.

Role of the speakership[edit]

The Speaker of the Senate is historically responsible for deciding on points of order, only once risen by another senator. However, with the 1991 amendments to the standing orders and guidelines that govern the Senate of Canada, the speakership has generally begun to assert its right to intervene, where appropriate, without being prompted to do so. Therefore the speaker is, broadly speaking, responsible for the maintenance of order and decorum in the Senate.

As a high-ranking individual on the order of precedence, the Speaker of the Senate often receives heads of state and heads of government — this role is not merely ceremonial; the speaker is a real delegate and representative of Canada abroad. They are expected to represent Canada internationally, and sometimes visit other nations on behalf of the Government of Canada.

While the speaker is an officer of the Senate, they also remain a representative of the province from which they were appointed. Unlike the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Speaker has the right to participate in debates on behalf of the citizens of their province or territory. The speaker has the right to cast an original vote, and to simultaneously preside over the voting process (rather than the speaker delivering a casting vote in the event of an equality, the question before the House is deemed to have been rejected).

Another significant difference between the two speakers is that the Speaker of the House of Commons holds a management role within the administration of the House of Commons as Chair of the Board of Internal Economy. The Speaker of the Senate holds no similar role, and the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets, and Administration is chaired by another Senator.

In the absence of the Speaker in the Chamber, his duties are carried by the speaker pro tempore, a senator appointed at the beginning of each session by the Senate. Should both chair officers be absent, any senator can be called upon to take the chair. Irrespective of who is in the chair, their decisions hold the same force as that of the speaker.


The Speaker of the Senate performs the Senate Speaker's Parade to mark the opening of a sitting in the Senate with the help of the Black Rod.[1]

List of Speakers of the Senate[edit]

The Speaker of the Senate occupies the chair in front of the thrones.
Speaker Tenure Party
The Hon. Joseph Cauchon November 5, 1867 – May 16, 1869 Independent Conservative
The Hon. John Ross May 17, 1869 – May 26, 1869 Conservative
The Hon. Joseph Cauchon May 27, 1869 – June 2, 1872 Independent Conservative
The Hon. Amos Botsford June 3, 1872 – June 5, 1872 Conservative
The Hon. Joseph Cauchon June 6, 1872 – June 30, 1872 Independent Conservative
The Hon. Pierre-Joseph-Olivier Chauveau February 21, 1872 – January 8, 1874 Conservative
The Hon. David Christie January 9, 1874 – October 16, 1878 Liberal
The Hon. Robert Duncan Wilmot November 7, 1878 – February 10, 1880 Conservative
The Hon. Sir David Macpherson February 11, 1880 – February 15, 1880 Conservative
The Hon. Amos Botsford February 16, 1880 – April 18, 1880 Conservative
The Hon. Sir David Macpherson April 19, 1880 – October 16, 1883 Conservative
The Hon. William Miller October 17, 1883 – April 3, 1887 Liberal-Conservative
The Hon. Josiah Plumb April 4, 1887 – March 12, 1888 Conservative
The Hon. George Allan March 17, 1888 – April 26, 1891 Conservative
The Hon. Sir Alexandre Lacoste April 27, 1891 – September 13, 1891 Conservative
The Hon. John Jones Ross September 14, 1891 – July 12, 1896 Conservative
The Hon. Sir Charles Pelletier July 13, 1896 – January 28, 1901 Liberal
The Hon. Lawrence Power January 29, 1901 – January 8, 1905 Liberal
The Hon. Raoul Dandurand January 9, 1905 – January 13, 1909 Liberal
The Hon. James Kerr January 14, 1909 – October 22, 1911 Liberal
The Hon. Auguste Landry October 23, 1911 – June 2, 1916 Conservative
The Hon. Joseph Bolduc June 3, 1916 – February 6, 1922 Nationalist Conservative
The Hon. Hewitt Bostock February 7, 1922 – May 12, 1930 Liberal
The Hon. Arthur Hardy May 13, 1930 – September 2, 1930 Liberal
The Hon. Pierre Blondin September 3, 1930 – January 10, 1936 Conservative
The Hon. Walter Foster January 11, 1936 – May 8, 1940 Liberal
The Hon. Georges Parent May 9, 1940 – December 14, 1942 Liberal
The Hon. Thomas Vien January 23, 1943 – August 23, 1945 Liberal
The Hon. James King August 24, 1945 – August 2, 1949 Liberal
The Hon. Elie Beauregard August 3, 1949 – October 13, 1953 Liberal
The Hon. Wishart Robertson October 14, 1953 – October 3, 1957 Liberal
The Hon. Mark Drouin October 4, 1957 – September 23, 1962 Progressive Conservative
The Hon. George White September 24, 1962 – April 26, 1963 Progressive Conservative
The Hon. Maurice Bourget April 27, 1963 – January 6, 1966 Liberal
The Hon. Sydney Smith January 7, 1966 – September 4, 1968 Liberal
The Hon. Jean-Paul Deschatelets September 5, 1968 – December 13, 1972 Liberal
The Hon. Muriel Fergusson December 14, 1972 – September 11, 1974 Liberal
The Hon. Renaude Lapointe September 12, 1974 – October 4, 1979 Liberal
The Hon. Allister Grosart October 5, 1979 – March 3, 1980 Progressive Conservative
The Hon. Jean Marchand March 4, 1980 – December 15, 1983 Liberal
The Hon. Maurice Riel December 16, 1983 – November 1, 1984 Liberal
The Hon. Guy Charbonneau November 2, 1984 – December 6, 1993 Progressive Conservative
The Rt. Hon. Roméo LeBlanc December 7, 1993 – November 21, 1994 Liberal
The Hon. Gildas Molgat November 22, 1994 – January 25, 2001 Liberal
The Hon. Daniel Hays January 26, 2001 – February 7, 2006 Liberal
The Hon. Noël Kinsella February 8, 2006 – November 26, 2014 Conservative
The Hon. Pierre Claude Nolin November 27, 2014 – present Conservative

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "The Senate Speaker's Parade". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved 2013-06-16.