HISTORY IN THE NEWS
Dedicated to the background of contemporary events around the world.
Dedicated to the background of contemporary events around the world.
History of the Canadian Senate and Senate Reform.
This chronology is based on A Legislative and Historical Overview of the Senate of Canada
Committees and Private Legislation Directorate Revised May 2001:
Origins of the Senate.
-With the exception of British Columbia, all of the British North American colonies had bicameral or two chamber legislatures before 1867. It was from these pre-Confederation Legislative Councils, particularly that of the United Province of Canada (the union in 1840 of Upper Canada [Ontario] and Lower Canada [Quebec] ) that the model. The Legislative Council of Prince Edward Island had been elective since 1862 and that of the Province of Canada since 1857. However, there was not a great deal of enthusiasm for an elected second chamber. for the Senate was taken.
Senate not to Originate Money Bills.
1840- Section 57 of the Union Act, 1840 which had constitutionally united Upper and Lower Canada into the United Province. Section 57 of the Union Act removed any doubt as to where money bills were to originate: "57. All Bills for appropriating any Part of the Surplus of the said Consolidated Revenue Fund, or for imposing any new Tax or Impost, shall originate in the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada." This was to last as a limitation on the powers of the Senate in the Constitution Act, 1867.
The Quebec Conference begins founding of the Senate.
-1864- Oct 10- The Quebec Conference passes a resolution to form a Canadian senate. The formal origins of the Canadian Senate "emerged from the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences of 1864 which met to consider proposals for a union of the British North American colonies. Much of the Quebec Conference was devoted to creating an upper house...Various proposals for its method of selection were considered, including direct election.
-Nova Scotia would have ten Senators, New Brunswick ten and Prince Edward Island four. The record of the discussions which took place at the Quebec Conference shows that the Prince Edward Island delegates argued vigorously that the only safeguard the smaller Provinces would possess was in the Senate and raised the demand for equal representation for all the provinces in the Upper House. This position, MacKay writes "was farther than other Maritime delegations were prepared to go" P.E.I. alone dissented from the Quebec agreement and refused to come into the new federation. In order to retain the equality of sectional representation, the twenty-four maritime members were divided equally between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
Constitution Act, 1867
1867- of the Senate: George Brown said it was the key to federation, "the very essence of our compact". "Our Lower Canadian friends have agreed to give us representation by population in the Lower House, on the express condition that they would have equality in the Upper House. On no other condition could we have advanced a step"
-in a limitation on the power of the senate, Section 53 of the Constitution Act, 1867 directs that money bills are to originate in the House of Commons.
-Quebec was given equal representation in the Senate with Ontario - twenty-four seats. Section 24 of the Constitution Act, 1867 provided for a special representation in the case of Quebec: "each of the twenty-four Senators representing that Province shall be appointed for one of the twenty-four electoral districts of Lower Canada ... "
-the Senate is charged with the right to grant divorces.
-in the first Canadian cabinet, five of the thirteen ministers were senators.
1867- Nov. 16- The first sitting of the Senate. The first Senate Speaker is Joseph Edouard Cauchon. During the session, three Standing Committees are appointed: Banking, Commerce and Railways, Contingent Accounts, and Standing Orders and Private Bills.
Development of Parliamentary Privilege.
1868- the Senate and parliamentary privilege: "In 1868 the Canadian Parliament enacted a law which gave to each of the houses, in almost the identical words used above, the powers, immunities, and privileges enjoyed by the British House of Commons at the time of passing the British North America Act, "so far as the same are consistent with and not repugnant to the said Act." A further section stated that these were part of the general and public law of Canada and "it shall not be necessary to plead the same, but the same shall in all Courts in Canada and by and before all judges be taken notice of judicially". The act also protected the publication of any proceedings against civil or criminal suit if these were published under the order or authority of the Senate or House of Commons. This was followed in the same year by an act professing to give to the Senate or to any select committee on private bills of the Senate or of the House the power to examine witnesses on oath.
Senate Seats for New Provinces.
1870 - Entry of Manitoba. The Manitoba Act provides for the addition of two Senators for that province.
1871 - Entry of British Columbia. The British Columbia Terms of Union awards three Senate seats to B.C.
Powers of Canadian Parliament to be Identical to British powers.
1873- on parliamentary privilege: the power to examine witnesses on oath was extended to any committee of either house. This latter act was disallowed by the British government on the ground that it was ultra vires, in that it tried to give powers to the Canadian houses which were not possessed in 1867 by the British House of Commons. The earlier act had been, in fact, ultra vires also, although it had been allowed to stand.
1873- When Prince Edward Island entered Confederation pursuant to the Prince Edward Island Terms of Union, 1873, it did so on the terms and conditions of the Quebec resolutions. Senate representation was therefore readjusted to ten Nova Scotia seats, ten New Brunswick seats and four from P.E.I.
1874 - The British Government replies that it could not advise Her Majesty to comply with the request of Prime Minister Alexander MacKenzie to appoint extra Senators pursuant to Section 26 of the Constitution Act, 1867.
1875-an amendment to the British North America Act, which repealed the original section 18 and substituted another to the effect that the privileges, immunities, and powers of the Canadian Parliament and its members were never to exceed those enjoyed from time to time by the British House of Commons.
1875- The first major legislative confrontation between the Senate and House of Commons. The Senate rejects a bill for the construction of a railway from Esquimalt to Nanaimo in British Columbia.
1876- on privilege: Inasmuch as the British House of Commons in 1871 had given to its committees the power to examine witnesses on oath, the Canadian Parliament was able in 1876 legally to endow its committees with the same power.
1879 - The "Northwest Territories" of the time were given two seats in the Senate, a figure which was doubled in 1903. 1889
Evolution of the Senate
1879- Creation of the Senate Standing Committee on Divorce.
1891-two governments in the nineteenth century were led by Senators, Sir John Abbott (1891-92) and Sir Mackenzie Bowell (1894-96). Nearly every major portfolio except that of Finance has been held at one time or another by a Senator.
1894 - Creation of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy and Contingent Accounts.
1905 - Entry of Alberta and Saskatchewan. These newly-created provinces each obtain four seats.
1907 (circa) -Originally, the Senate was composed of 72 members, but increased as the country geographically and demographically grew in size. In the first forty years of Confederation, a series of arrangements to provide representation to Manitoba, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Alberta and Saskatchewan brought a total number of Senate seats to eighty-seven.
1913 - Senate defeats Naval Assistance Bill saying "This House is not justified in giving its assent to the bill until it is submitted to the judgement of the country."
Constitution Act, 1915.
1915 - Passage of the Constitution Act, 1915 which reorganized and rationalized the basis of representation by creating a fourth division, the Western division, composed of the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, each represented by six Senators. The same act provided for the awarding of six seats in the Senate to Newfoundland when it entered Confederation, which it did in 1949.
1915- the number of senators increased to 96.
Senate May Amend Money Bills.
1918- May 9- "the Senate has historically taken the position that it has the constitutional right to amend (but not increase) money bills sent up from the House of Commons. The Report of the Special Committee Appointed to Determine the Rights of the Senate in Matters of Financial Legislation (the Ross Report) tabled in the Senate."
Eligibility to sit in Senate makes Women "Persons."
1930 - "Persons Case" decision by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Edwards v. Attorney General for Canada ( A.C. 124) confirming the possibility of appointing women to the Senate. On February 14, 1930, Mrs. Cairine MacKay Wilson, daughter of the late Senator MacKay of Ontario, was summoned to the Senate, becoming Canada's first woman Senator.
1931 - Statute of Westminster grants British dominions complete autonomy. The Statute of Westminster authorizes the Balfour Report (1926), granting Canada full legislative authority in both internal and external affairs.
1949- the number of senators is increased to 102.
1949- Newfoundland entered Confederation only in 1949, pursuant to the Newfoundland Act, which confirmed the Terms of Union between the province and Canada. The Terms of Union provided for representation in the Senate by six members.
Process of Senate Reform.
1965- in what was the first significant step towards Senate reform, The Constitution Act, 1867 was amended so that all Senators appointed after that date were to retire at age 75.
1968- the Senate no longer allowed to grant divorces. Since 1968, the authority for granting divorces rests with all provincial courts.
1968-69 - Restructuring of Senate Committees. Foreign Affairs replaces External Relations, and Health, Welfare and Science replaces Immigration and Labour. Creation of the Standing Senate. Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Major revision undertaken to Senate Rules.
Appointment of First Woman Speaker.
1972 - Appointment of the first woman Speaker, Muriel McQueen Ferguson.
-during the 1970's, Senate impact on Commons legislation was principally to be found in recommendations emanating from pre-study committee reports made to bills in advance of their coming before the Senate. Such pre-study of the 1975 Bankruptcy Bill led to almost 140 amendments being proposed.
1974- the number of senators is increased to 104.
Senate Confronting House of Commons.
-during the latter 1980's and the 1990's, the Senate became more active in formally opposing and amending Commons legislation. Among the more controversial bills which led to confrontation between the Senate and House of Commons were the following: (i) in 1985, Bill C-11, the Borrowing Authority Bill; (ii) in 1986, Bill C-67, the "gating" amendments proposed to the Penitentiary Act; (iii) in 1987, Bill C-22, the Drug Patent Bill and Bill C-84, the Immigration Bill; (iv) in 1988, Bill C-60, the Copyright Bill, Bill C-103, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Bill and Bill C-130, the Free Trade Bill; (v) in 1989, Bill C-21, the Unemployment Insurance Act amendments; (vi) in 1990, Bill C-28, the "clawback" Income Tax Bill and Bill C-62, the Goods and Services Tax; (vii) in 1991, Bill C-43, the Abortion Bill, which was defeated at third reading; (viii) in 1996, Bill C-28, the Lester B. Pearson International Airport Bill, which was also defeated at third reading; and, (ix) in 1998, Bill C-220, the profit from authorship respecting a crime Bill, which was defeated at report stage.
1975- Pursuant to the Constitution Act, 1975, the two territories were entitled to be represented in the Senate by one member each. Like the Province of Newfoundland, they were not added to an existing region but treated as an exception to the sectional divisions.
Consent of Provinces Required to Reform Senate.
1979 - On December 21, 1979 in Re: Authority of Parliament in Relation to the Upper House , 1 S.C.R. 54, the Supreme Court rules that Parliament cannot fundamentally alter the Senate in virtue of section 91(1) of the B.N.A. Act, 1867. In this Bill C-60 reference, the Supreme Court confirmed that the consent of the provinces was necessary for the reform of the essential elements of the Constitution and the powers of the Senate.
1993- The Nunavut Act of 1993 separated the new Territory of Nunavut from the Northwest Territories and granted it representation in the Senate by one member.
1999- the number of senators is increased to 105.
Senate Powers Limited by a Repatriated Constitution.
1982 - Passage of the Constitution Act, 1982. Under the new amending formula, the Canadian Parliament is given exclusive authority to amend the provisions of the Constitution of Canada in relation to the Senate. A more demanding formula governs amendments affecting the Senate's powers, selection of Senators, the number of Senators by which a province is entitled, and the residency conditions to be met by Senators. In these areas, amendments may be made by proclamation of the Governor General authorized by resolutions of the Senate, the House of Commons and the legislative assemblies of seven provinces representing 50% of the population of all of the provinces. The Constitution Act, 1982 provides that for constitutional amendments the Senate has only a suspensive veto of 180 days. In the absence of Senate agreement, the House of Commons has only to wait 180 days and then adopt the constitutional amendment a second time.
1982- section 47(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 provides that amendments to the constitution can be made without the consent of the Senate.
New Senate Rules under Meech Lake.
1987 - The 1987 Meech Lake Accord contains a provision regarding vacancies in the accord. The proposed new procedure could guarantee that no person would be appointed to the Senate who was not acceptable to both levels of Government. The political accord accompanying the proposed Constitution Amendment, 1987 contains a commitment ensuring that the new nomination procedure for Senators is to take effect forthwith upon signature of the accord and prior to the proclamation of the amendments. The provisional procedure is to apply until there are constitutional amendments regarding the Senate generally or until the Accord fails to be ratified. Six Senators are appointed pursuant to this accord. In 1990, time expires for the ratification of the Accord.
1989 - Creation of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.
Outgoing Prime Minister Mulroney Stacks the Senate with Patronage Appointments
1993- -A few weeks prior to leaving office, Mr. Mulroney filled the fourteen vacancies in the Senate with 13 Conservatives and one Independent. As a result, in 1993 Prime Minister Chrétien's Liberal caucus of 41 Liberals faced 58 Conservatives and 5 Independents
2001 - Creation of the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights and of the Standing Senate Committee on Defence and Security.
Recent Moves Toward Senate Reform.
2005- NDP and Bloc Quebecois called for abolition of Senate.
2006-2009- Prime Minister Harper and his Conservatives repeatedly introduced and amended senate reform bills which kept dying.
2008- -under Harper's Conservatives a large number of vacant seats were left unfilled until just after the prorogation during the 2008 Canadian parliamentary dispute when Harper filled the remaining seats rather than risk seeing them filled by any incoming coalition government. Among his new appoinrtees were Mike Duffy and Pam Wallin. (Wikipedia)
2010- during its national convention, the Green Party calls for a senate elected by proportional representation.
Senate Expenses Sacandal
2013-Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin embroiled in the Senate Expenses Scandal.
2013,-the NDP appears to begin to embrace senate reform as a compromise, before returning to a pro-abolition platform, including a pro-abolition website, www.RollUpTheRedCarpet.ca.