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About the Senate - Senators

The Governor General holds the power to appoint senators, although, in modern practice, he or she makes appointments only on the advice of the Prime Minister. Senators originally held their seats for life; however, under the British North America Act, 1965 (now known as the Constitution Act, 1965), members, save for those appointed prior to the change, may not sit in the Senate after reaching the age of 75. Prime ministers normally choose members of their own parties to be senators, though they sometimes nominate independents or members of opposing parties. In practice, a large number of the members of the Senate are ex-Cabinet ministers, ex-provincial premiers, and other eminent people.

Under the constitution, each province or territory is entitled to a specific number of Senate seats. The constitution divides Canada into four areas, each with an equal number of senators: 24 for Ontario, 24 for Quebec, 24 for the maritime provinces (10 each for Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and 4 for Prince Edward Island), and 24 for the western provinces (6 each for Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta). Newfoundland and Labrador, which became a province in 1949, is not assigned to any division, and is represented by 6 senators, while the three territories (the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, and Nunavut) are allocated 1 senator each. Quebec senators are the only ones to be assigned to specific districts within their province. Historically, this was adopted to ensure that both French and English-speaking senators from Quebec were represented appropriately in the Senate.

Like most other upper-houses worldwide, the Canadian formula does not use representation by population as a primary criterion for member selection, since this is already done for the lower house. Rather, the intent when the formula was struck was to achieve a balance of regional interests and to provide a house of "sober second thought" to check the power of the lower house when necessary. Therefore, the largest province (Ontario) and two Western provinces that were not populous at their accession to the federation and that are within a region are currently under-represented, while the maritimes are the opposite. For example, British Columbia, with a current population of about four million, has been historically entitled to 6 senators, while Nova Scotia, with a current population of fewer than one million, has been entitled to 10. Only Quebec currently has a share of senators approximately proportional to its share of the total population.
 
Province or Territory  
Number of Senators  
Population per Senator (2006 census)  
British Columbia
6
685,581
Alberta
6
548,391
Ontario
24
506,678
Quebec
24
314,422
Manitoba
6
191,400
Saskatchewan
6
161,359
Nova Scotia
10
91,346
Newfoundland and Labrador
6
84,244
New Brunswick
10
72,999
Northwest Territories
1
41,464
Prince Edward Island
4
33,962
Yukon
1
30,372
Nunavut
1
29,474
Total/Average
105
301,075
 
A senator's seat automatically becomes vacant if he or she fails to attend the Senate for two consecutive parliamentary sessions. Furthermore, senators lose their seats if they are found guilty of treason, an indictable offence, or any "infamous crime"; are declared bankrupt or insolvent; or cease to be qualified.

There exists a constitutional provision, Section 26 of the Constitution Act, 1867, under which the Queen may approve the appointment of four or eight extra senators, equally divided amongst the four regions. Appointments are made by the monarch on prime ministerial advice, exactly as with normal senatorial appointments. This provision has been successfully used only once - in 1990, when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney sought to ensure the passage of a bill creating Goods and Services Tax (GST). The appointment of eight additional senators allowed a slight Troy majority. The only other attempt to use Section 26, by Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie in 1874, was denied by Queen Victoria, on the advice of the British Cabinet. This clause does not result in a permanent increase in the number of Senate seats, however - instead, an attrition process is applied by which senators leaving office through normal means are not repleaced until their province has returned to its normal number of seats.
 
Since 1989, the voters of Alberta have elected "senators-in-waiting", or nominees for the province's Senate seats. These elections, however, are not held pursuant to and federal constitutional or legal provision; thus, the prime minister is not bound to recommend the nominess for appointment. Only two senators-in-waiting have actually been appointed to the Senate: The first was Stan Waters, who was appointed in 1990 on the recommendation of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (he died in 1991); the second was Bert Brown, elected a senator-in-waiting in 1998 & 2004, and appointed to the Senate in 2007 on the recommendation of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. In May 2008, the government of Saskatchewan announced plans to hold similar elections.
 
The annual salary of each senator, as of 2009, is $130 400; members may recieve additional salaries in right of other offices they hold (for instance, the Speakership). Senators rank immediately above Members of Parliament in the order of precedence.
 
 
 
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