Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



The Canadian Government Introduces Senate Reform Bills

On November 13, 2007, in Canada, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Leader of the Government in the Senate announced in the House of Commons the introduction of Bill C- 20 "An Act to provide for consultations with electors on their preferences for appointments to the Senate".  To read a copy of Bill C-20, please click on Bill C-20 (First Reading November 13, 2007). Bill C-20 is to be sent to committee before second reading to allow for input from opposition parties.

The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Leader of the Government in the Senate also announced in the House of Commons the introduction of Bill C- 19 "An Act to amend the Constitution Act 1867 (Senate Tenure).  This Bill, if passed, will limit the tenure of new senators in Canada to 8 years.  Under the present system, senators hold their appointed office until the age of 75 years.  Under section 23 of the Constitution Act 1867, senators "shall be of the full age of Thirty Years" and under section 29(2) of the Constitution Act 1867 shall "hold his place in the Senate until he attains the age of seventy-five years."  Consequently, a Canadian senator can serve, in theory, for up to 45 years.  To read a copy of Bill C-19, please click on Bill C-19 (First Reading November 13, 2007).

The key provisions are found in Bill C-20.  This Bill would establish a national process through which Canadians would be consulted on their choice of candidates to the Senate.  Currently, the Governor General of Canada (the Queen's Representative in Canada) makes appointments to the Senate based on the recommendations of the sitting Prime Minister when there are vacancies.  What is key is that Bill C-20 does not provide for an elected Senate.  The change is more subtle - the choices of Canadians would form recommendations to the Prime Minister, which in turn are recommended to the Governor General.

Also in Bill C-20 are rules relating to nominations for Senate, accountability and campaign finance.  While the senators are not elected, there will be an nomination process and undoubtedly be campaigning so that certain individuals will figure prominently in the consultations.

The Canadian Senate reform will be important for Canada's trading partners to follow.  Please follow Trade Lawyers Blog and Canada Law Blog which will continue to post entries relating to the progress of this important development.

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