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News Release

Make-up of Senate Committee Memberships to Change under new arrangement

Independent Senators to receive equal treatment

A motion was tabled in Canada’s Senate today designed to rebalance the membership of its committees so that Independent Senators receive equal and proportional treatment.

The order, if adopted by the upper chamber,  means that Independent Senators will now receive a proportionate share of seats on Senate committees. Under the arrangement, 40 per cent of seats will be occupied by Independents, 40 per cent by Conservatives and 20 per cent by Senate Liberals.

“This is a victory for fairness and for equal treatment,” said Senator Peter Harder, Government Representative in the Senate.

“It’s an important step forward in remodelling the Senate along  less-partisan, independent lines. And it gives Independent senators the voice on issues that their numbers warrant.”

The memberships on committees would reflect the make-up of the overall Senate itself. Currently, 43 members of the 105-member Senate are Independent and non-party affiliated, while 41 are part of the Conservative caucus and another 21 are members of the Senate Liberal caucus.

Until now, Independents had been significantly under-represented on committees, where a substantial amount of Senate work is done and from where recommendations for legislative amendments to government bills often emerge.

“Without this change, the legitimacy of some of those amendments could rightly be questioned by the public,” said Sen. Harder. “This will give Canadians confidence that we are well on our way to modernizing the way the Senate does its job.’’

Senator Harder also congratulated those colleagues in the Conservative and Senate Liberal caucuses and the Independent Senators Group for their role in reaching the arrangement.

“This could not have been done without goodwill from all sides,’’ he said.

The committees were originally struck after the last election and would typically not be changed until after the following vote, or after Parliament is prorogued. However, a significant influx of Independent senators compelled the need for a new arrangement.

Twenty-seven new, independent senators have been appointed since the 2015 election.

To reach the new proportionality, Senators agreed to do their best not to remove current members from their positions but, rather, to add members.

For example, committees with nine members will see their number grow to 12, while committees with 12 members will increase to 15 and those with 15 members will grow to 18.  This formula allows for some exceptions, such as the Committee on selection, which previously numbered five Conservatives and four Senate Liberals. The newly-composed committee will now number 10 members; four Independents, four Conservatives and two Senate Liberals.

For more information, please contact:

Brian Laghi

Director of Communications

Office of the Government Representative in the Senate

613-995-9256 o

613-462-9011 c