< Rules of the Senate of Canada
PARLIAMENT of CANADA
Home Parliamentary Business Senators and Members About Parliament Visitor Information Employment

Rules of the Senate

Table of Contents

Chapter Thirteen: Questions of Privilege

   

Breach of Privilege

     
Duty to preserve privileges  

13-1. A violation of the privileges of any one Senator affects all Senators and the ability of the Senate to carry out its functions. The preservation of the privileges of the Senate is the duty of every Senator and has priority over every other matter before the Senate.

     

Criteria for priority

 

13-2. (1) In order to be accorded priority, a question of privilege must:

(a) be raised at the earliest opportunity;
(b) be a matter that directly concerns the privileges of the Senate, any of its committees or any Senator;
(c) be raised to correct a grave and serious breach; and
(d) be raised to seek a genuine remedy that the Senate has the power to provide and for which no other parliamentary process is reasonably available.

     

Substantive motion

 

13-2. (2) Except as otherwise provided, if the question of privilege is not raised at the earliest opportunity, a Senator may still raise the matter on a substantive motion following notice, but the matter cannot be proceeded with under the terms of this chapter.

EXCEPTION
Rule 13-4: Question of privilege without notice

     
   

Giving Notice

     

Written notice of question of privilege

 

13-3. (1) Except as otherwise provided, a Senator wishing to raise a question of privilege shall provide the Clerk with a written notice, indicating the substance of the alleged breach, at least three hours before the Senate meets. If the question of privilege is to be raised on a Friday, the notice shall be provided no later than 6 p.m. the day before.

EXCEPTION
Rule 13-4: Question of privilege without notice

     

Translation and distribution

 

13-3. (2) When the Clerk receives the notice, it shall be translated as soon as possible and a written copy in both official languages shall be sent immediately to each Senator’s parliamentary office.

     

Non-receipt of notice

 

13-3. (3) The non-receipt of a notice by any Senator shall not affect the validity of the notice, nor can it constitute a reason to delay consideration of the question of privilege.

     

Oral notice of question of privilege

 

13-3. (4) The Senator who has given written notice of a question of privilege shall be recognized during Senators’ Statements for the purpose of giving oral notice of the question. The Senator shall clearly identify the subject matter that shall be raised as a question of privilege and indicate a readiness to move a motion seeking Senate action in relation to the matter or referring it to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament.

     

Question of privilege without notice

 

13-4. If a Senator becomes aware of a matter giving rise to a question of privilege either after the time for giving a written notice or during the sitting, the Senator may either:

(a) raise it during the sitting without notice at any time, except during Routine Proceedings, Question Period or a vote, but otherwise generally following the provisions of this chapter; or
(b) delay raising it until the next sitting, in which case written notice must be given in accordance with this chapter.

     
   

Consideration of a Question of Privilege

     

Consideration of question of privilege

 

13-5. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2) and elsewhere in these Rules, or unless the Senate adjourns earlier, questions of privilege of which written and oral notice was given shall be considered as soon as the Senate has completed the Orders of the Day, but no later than either 8 p.m. the same day or noon on a Friday.

EXCEPTIONS
Rule 8-4(1): Adjournment motion for emergency debate
Rule 13-4(a): Question of privilege without notice
Rule 13-6(2): Debate on motion on case of privilege

     

When question of privilege without notice considered

 

13-5. (2) A question of privilege raised without notice shall be considered at the time it is raised, unless the Speaker at any time directs that further consideration be delayed until the time for considering questions of privilege of which written and oral notice was received. In this case, the delayed consideration shall be taken up before any questions of privilege of which notice was given.

     

Order of consideration

 

13-5. (3) If more than one question of privilege is to be raised, the questions shall be considered successively in the order in which the Clerk received the notices.

     

Debates to be in succession

 

13-5. (4) The Speaker shall end debate on a question of privilege before calling for consideration of the next question of privilege.

     

Prima facie determination by Speaker

 

13-5. (5) The Speaker shall determine whether a prima facie question of privilege has been established. The Speaker shall give the reasons and cite any rules, practices or authorities on which the ruling is based.

     

Motion relating to a case of privilege

 

13-6. (1) When a prima facie question of privilege has been established, the Senator who raised the matter may immediately move a motion to seek a remedy or to refer the case of privilege to the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament for investigation and report.

     

Debate on motion on case of privilege

 

13-6. (2) Debate on a motion relating to a case of privilege shall start when the Senate completes the Orders of the Day, but no later than 8 p.m., or noon on a Friday. The motion shall have priority over an emergency debate or any questions of privilege that would normally be considered at that point in the sitting.

     

Time limits on speaking on motion on case of privilege

  13-6. (3) No Senator shall speak more than once or for more than 15 minutes in debate on the motion.
     

Limit of three hours

 

13-6. (4) Debate on the motion shall last no more than three hours. When debate concludes or the time expires, the Speaker shall immediately and successively put every question necessary to dispose of the motion without permitting further debate or amendment.

     

Debate may be adjourned

 

13-6. (5) Except as provided in subsection (6), debate on the motion may be adjourned.

     

Continuation of debate on motion on case of privilege beyond ordinary time of adjournment on first day of debate

 

13-6. (6) If, on the first day of debate, the motion is under consideration at the ordinary time of adjournment, the Senate shall not adjourn. Instead, the debate shall continue until it is concluded or the time has expired, and shall not be adjourned.

     

Vote deferred

 

13-6. (7) Except as provided in subsection (8), any standing vote requested on the motion may be deferred.

     

Vote on case of privilege automatically deferred in certain circumstances

 

13-6. (8) If debate on the motion ends after the ordinary time of adjournment, any standing vote requested shall automatically be deferred until 5:30 p.m. on the next sitting day, and the vote shall not be further deferred.

     

Where Orders of the Day completed

 

13-6. (9) Except as provided in subsection (11), if the Senate has completed the Orders of the Day before considering the motion relating to a case of privilege, a motion to adjourn the Senate shall be deemed to have been moved and adopted once debate on the motion either has been adjourned or has concluded with the question put.

     

Where Orders of the Day not completed

 

13-6. (10) Except as provided in subsection (11) and elsewhere in these Rules, if the Senate has not completed the Orders of the Day before debate on the motion begins, proceedings on the Orders of the Day shall resume after debate on the motion has been adjourned or has concluded with the question put. In either case, unless the Senate adjourns earlier:

(a) when the end of the Orders of the Day is reached, the Speaker shall adjourn the Senate until the next sitting day without the question being put; and
(b) the rules for the ordinary time of adjournment shall be suspended, if necessary, for the shorter of:

  (i) the time required to allow the Senate to reach the end of the Orders of the Day, or

(ii) the time spent on the motion relating to a case of privilege.

 

EXCEPTIONS
Rule 7-3(1)(c): Procedure for debate on motion to allocate time

Rule 7-4(1)(a): Government order to which time is allocated
Rule 7-4(2): Debate to continue beyond ordinary time of adjournment and no evening suspension

     

Where emergency debate or question of privilege follows motion on case of privilege

 

13-6. (11) If the Senate is to deal with an emergency debate or a question of privilege after a motion relating to a case of privilege, it shall deal first with the emergency debate and then with the question of privilege before either adjourning or resuming consideration of the Orders of the Day.

Back to top

© Senate of Canada