Government Announces Immediate Senate Reform

Ottawa, Ontario, December 3, 2015 - In order to bring real change to the Senate, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions, with the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, announced today the establishment of a new, non-partisan, merit-based process to advise on Senate appointments.

Under the new process, an Independent Advisory Board on Senate Appointments will be established to provide advice to the Prime Minister on candidates for the Senate. The Independent Advisory Board will be guided by public, merit-based criteria, in order to identify Canadians who would make a significant contribution to the work of the Senate. The criteria will help ensure a high standard of integrity, collaboration, and non-partisanship in the Senate.

The Government is moving quickly to reform the Senate, recognizing its fundamental role in the representation of regional and minority interests in the legislative process. The new, independent appointments process will contribute to creating a less partisan and more effective institution to serve Canadians. 

The new appointments process will be implemented in two phases. In the transitional phase, five appointments will be made early in 2016 to immediately reduce partisanship in the Senate and improve the representation of the provinces with the most vacancies (i.e., Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec). A permanent process will then be implemented with further enhancements to replenish the remaining vacancies, and will include an application process open to all Canadians.

As part of demonstrating its commitment to the new appointments process, the Government will seek to appoint a Representative from among the initial, independent appointees. This person would work within existing Senate rules to ensure Senate business can be effectively coordinated in a new Parliament.


“Government must always stay focused on serving Canadians and solving their problems. Canadians have been clear: the Senate needs real change, and we are acting decisively on this commitment. The new, merit-based appointment process will reduce partisanship in the Senate, improve its capacity to serve Canadians, and help restore public confidence.”

The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Democratic Institutions

“We need to end the partisan nature of the Senate, and the new, merit-based appointments will help to bring real change to the Senate. Canadians voted for new leadership and a new tone in Ottawa, and the Government looks forward to working with all Senators to implement our positive plan for a strong and growing middle class.”

The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Quick Facts

  • There are currently 22 vacancies in the Senate. Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba have the largest number of vacancies.

  • Under the Constitution, the Governor General appoints individuals to the Senate. By convention, Senators are appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister.

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For further information (media only):

  • Jean-Bruno Villeneuve
    Issues Manager and Press Secretary
    Office of the Minister of Democratic Institutions
  • Shane Diaczuk
    Office of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons