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The Speaker of the Senate of 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 Noël Kinsella, a Conservative Senator representing the province of New Brunswickmarker.

Appointment and Precedence

The Speaker of the Senate is appointed by the Governor General, 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 Her Majesty 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 Canadamarker at official state functions, both in Canada and abroad.

History of the Speakership

The role of the Speaker in the Senate was originally based on that of the Lord Chancellor of the House of Lordsmarker of the United Kingdommarker. 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 casting 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 Lordsmarker, 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 Lordsmarker, and more toward the Chair-governed customs of the House of Commons.

Role of the Speakership

The Speaker of the Senate occupies the chair in front of the thrones.
The Speaker of the Senate is historically responsible for deciding on points of order, only once risen by another senator. However, with recent 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.

Current and Historical Speakers

Name Beginning Ending Political Affiliation
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 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 present Conservative


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