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Representative of the Government in the Senate (Canada)

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The Representative of the Government in the Senate French: Représentant du gouvernement au Sénat is the independent member of the Senate of Canada who chiefly is responsible for introducing, promoting, and defending the government's bills in the Senate after they are passed by the House of Commons of Canada It is selected by the Prime Minister of Canada

The position replaces the Leader of the Government in the Senate French: Leader du gouvernement au Sénat, which from 1867–2015 was a senator who was a member of the governing party and led the government side in the Canadian Senate whether or not that party held a majority in the Senate The old position had almost always been held by a cabinet minister, except briefly in 1926, from 1958–63 and since 2013 Due to current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's 2014 decision to remove senators from the Liberal Party of Canada caucus, leaving them all effectively sitting as independent senators, Trudeau named a Representative of the Government in the Senate in the 42nd Canadian Parliament rather than a government leader2 The situation has created some uncertainty about how the Senate will function, and how government legislation will be brought to the Senate2 Retired civil servant Peter Harder was named to the position on March 18, 201634

The government leader's counterpart on the Opposition benches is the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, who continues to be a member of the opposition political party


  • 1 History
  • 2 Office holders
  • 3 References
  • 4 See also


Early Canadian cabinets included several senators who would be answerable to the Senate for government actions, one of whom would serve as de facto government leader in the Senate In the nineteenth century, it was not considered unusual for a senator to be Prime Minister Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott and Sir Mackenzie Bowell served as prime minister from the Senate Abbott and Bowell both found it difficult to lead the government from the Senate, however, and over time, the perceived legitimacy of the Senate declined Today, it is rare for senators to occupy prominent positions in cabinet From 1935 on, it was typical for a cabinet to have only one senator who would have the position of minister without portfolio alongside the position of leader of the government in the Senate

There have been a few rare occasions when the leader of the government in the Senate was not included in the cabinet by virtue of a separate ministerial appointment, such as William Benjamin Ross who served in the position in 1926, and Walter Morley Aseltine and Alfred Johnson Brooks who were not included in the cabinets of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker from 1958-1963 In 1968, the position of leader of the government in the Senate became an official cabinet position in its own right with the appointment of Paul Martin, Sr father of Canada's future prime minister, Paul Martin From July 2013, under prime minister Stephen Harper, the government leader in the Senate was again a non-cabinet minister

Occasionally, senators still hold senior cabinet positions other than the leader of the government in the Senate in order to ensure regional balance in cabinet if the governing party is unable to elect members in a particular region or province, eg, when the Progressive Conservative Party formed the government under the leadership of Joe Clark in 1979, and when the Liberal Party formed the government under the leadership of Pierre Trudeau in 1980 However, it is usually the case that the leader of the government in the Senate is the sole senator serving in Cabinet

The responsibilities of the leader of the government in the Senate include:

  1. Planning and managing the government's legislative program in the Senate
  2. Answering all questions for the government during the Senate's Question Period
  3. Maintaining relations with the opposition on all matters concerning Senate activities
  4. Working with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to ensure the effective coordination of the government's legislative programme

The government side in the Senate is the party that forms the government in the Canadian House of Commons This means that the government party in the Senate may have fewer seats than the opposition, particularly when a general election results in a new party forming government

Office holdersedit


  Liberal Party of Canada   Progressive Conservative Party of Canada   Conservative Party of Canada   Independent
Leader in the Senate Term of office Prime Minister Ministry Party
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Alexander Campbell 1st time July 1, 1867 November 5, 1873 Sir John A Macdonald 1 Liberal-Conservative
Luc Letellier de St-Just November 5, 1873 December 14, 1876 Alexander Mackenzie 2 Liberal
Sir Richard William Scott 1st time December 14, 1876 October 7, 1878
Alexander Campbell 2nd time October 18, 1878 January 26, 1887 Sir John A Macdonald 3 Conservative
Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott May 12, 1887 6 June 1891
16 June 1891 October 30, 1893 Himself 4
Sir Mackenzie Bowell October 31, 1893 December 12, 1894 Sir John Thompson 5
December 21, 1894 April 27, 1896 Himself 6
April 27, 1896 August 19, 1896 Sir Charles Tupper 7
Sir Oliver Mowat August 19, 1896 November 18, 1897 Sir Wilfrid Laurier 8 Liberal
David Mills November 18, 1897 February 7, 1902
Sir Richard William Scott 2nd time December 14, 1902 1908
Sir Richard John Cartwright 1909 October 6, 1911
Sir James Alexander Lougheed October 10, 1911 October 12, 1917 Sir Robert Borden 9/10 Conservative
October 12, 1917 10 July 1920 Unionist Party
10 July 1920 December 28, 1921 Arthur Meighen 11 Conservative
Raoul Dandurand 1st time December 29, 1921 June 28, 1926 William Lyon Mackenzie King 12 Liberal
William Benjamin Rossn 1 June 28, 1926 September 24, 1926 Arthur Meighen 13 Conservative
Raoul Dandurand 2nd time September 25, 1926 August 6, 1930 William Lyon Mackenzie King 14 Liberal
Wellington Bartley Willoughby August 7, 1930 February 3, 1932 R B Bennett 15 Conservative
Arthur Meighen February 3, 1932 October 22, 1935
Raoul Dandurand 3rd time October 23, 1935 March 11, 1942 William Lyon Mackenzie King 16 Liberal
James Horace King May 26, 1942 August 24, 1945
Wishart McLea Robertson August 24, 1945 November 15, 1948
November 15, 1948 October 14, 1953 Louis St Laurent 17
William Ross Macdonald 1st time October 14, 1953 June 20, 1957
John Thomas Haig October 9, 1957 May 11, 1958 John Diefenbaker 18 Progressive Conservative
Walter Morley Aseltinen 1 May 12, 1958 August 31, 1962
Alfred Johnson Brooksn 1 August 31, 1962 April 21, 1963
William Ross Macdonald 2nd time April 22, 1963 February 2, 1964 Lester B Pearson 19 Liberal
John Joseph Connolly February 3, 1964 April 20, 1968
  Paul Joseph James Martinn 2 April 20, 1968 August 7, 1974 Pierre Trudeau 20
Ray Perrault 1st time August 8, 1974 June 3, 1979
Jacques Flynn June 4, 1979 March 2, 1980 Joe Clark 21 Progressive Conservative
Ray Perrault 2nd time March 3, 1980 September 29, 1982 Pierre Trudeau 22 Liberal
Bud Olson September 30, 1982 June 29, 1984
Allan MacEachen June 30, 1984 September 16, 1984 John Turner 23
Dufferin Roblin September 17, 1984 June 29, 1986 Brian Mulroney 24 Progressive Conservative
Lowell Murray June 30, 1986 June 24, 1993
June 24, 1993 November 3, 1993 Kim Campbell 25
Joyce Fairbairn November 4, 1993 June 10, 1997 Jean Chrétien 26 Liberal
Alasdair Bernard Graham June 11, 1997 October 3, 1999
J Bernard Boudreau October 4, 1999 January 8, 2001
Sharon Carstairs January 9, 2001 December 11, 2003
Jack Austin December 12, 2003 February 6, 2006 Paul Martin 27
Marjory LeBreton February 6, 2006 July 14, 2013 Stephen Harper 28 Conservative
Claude Carignann 1 August 20, 2013 November 3, 2015
Representative of the Government in the Senate
Peter Hardern 1 March 18, 2016 present Justin Trudeau 29 Independentn 3
  1. ^ a b c d e Not in the Cabinet
  2. ^ Until April 1, 1969, Martin was, as had been typical, Minister without portfolio while holding the unofficial post of leader of the government in the Senate Thereafter, Leader of the Government in the Senate became an official ministerial office
  3. ^ Harder sits as an Independent but represents the Liberal government for the purposes of introducing legislation and acting as a liaison


  1. ^ http://senparlgcca/portal/publications/factsheets/fs-keyroles-ehtm
  2. ^ a b "4 issues hanging on Justin Trudeau’s plans for the Senate" Toronto Star, November 8, 2015
  3. ^ "Justin Trudeau names seven new senators" Toronto Star March 18, 2016 Retrieved March 18, 2016 
  4. ^ "Liberals set up non-partisan, merit-based process for choosing new senators" Toronto Star, December 3, 2015
  • Parliament of Canada biography of current Leader of the Government in the Senate

See alsoedit

  • Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Canada

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Representative of the Government in the Senate (Canada)

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