POLYAS Election Glossary

We provide explanations and background information on elections, voting rights and digital democracy

Canadian Senate

The Canadian Senate is the upper chamber of the Canadian Parliament which possesses the following characteristics:

  • 105 senators
  • 24 senators each for Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime provinces and Western provinces
  • Remaining 9 senators assigned to Newfoundland and Labrador and the three northern territories
  • Senators are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister
  • Senators may serve until they are 75 years of age

The primary role of the Canadian Senate is passing legislation alongside the House of Commons.  Whilst it has the power to reject bills passed by the lower chamber, the Senate is less powerful than the House of Commons for the following reasons:

  • it cannot introduce bills imposing taxes or appropriation of public funds bills into Parliament
  • it has no authority to bring down the executive government through confidence motions

As an unelected second chamber, the Canadian Senate is modelled upon the UK House of Lords. While it does have the power to block legislation, it rarely does so and in practice operates primarily as a chamber of review - much like the UK House of Lords. 

See also: Canadian House of Commons, Canadian Parliament, Prime Minister

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