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Rules of the Senate

Table of Contents

Updated May 7, 2015

Table of Contents

Rule Description


1-1(1) Primacy of Rules
1-1(2) Unprovided cases
1-2 Privileges unaffected
1-3(1) Suspension of a rule
1-3(2) Explanation of suspension


  The Speaker
2-1(1) Speaker’s duties

Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators

2-2 Speech from the Throne reported
2-3 Participation of Speaker in debate
2-4(1) When Speaker leaves the chair
2-4(2) Absence of Speaker
2-4(3) Acts valid
  Speaker’s Rulings
2-5(1) Arguments

Explanation of rulings

2-5(3) Appeals of rulings
  Order and Decorum
2-6(1) Interruption of proceedings
2-6(2) Suspension of sitting
2-7(1) When Speaker in the chair
2-7(2) When Speaker rises
2-7(3) When Speaker addresses the Senate
2-7(4) Senator called to order
2-7(5) When Speaker leaves the chamber
2-7(6) Speaker may leave the chair
2-8 Disruption during sitting
2-9(1) Disputes between Senators
2-9(2) Redress of grievance

Distinguished Visitors, Invited Persons and Strangers


Former Senators and current members of House of Commons

2-11 Distinguished visitors

Participation of ministers in chamber

2-12(2) Rules and practices apply
2-13(1) Strangers ordered to withdraw
2-13(2) Prior motion not required
2-13(3) Clearing of galleries


3-1(1) Ordinary time of meeting
3-1(2) Adjournment Friday to Monday
3-2(1) Speaker enters chamber
3-2(2) Bells ring before meeting
3-2(3) Lack of quorum at time of meeting

Interrupted Business

3-3(1) Evening suspension at 6 p.m.
3-3(2) Voting at 6 p.m.
3-4 Ordinary time of adjournment
3-5(1) Item under debate at adjournment
3-5(2) Orders of the Day not disposed of at adjournment

Adjournment periods


3-6(1) Recall of Senate during adjournment

Adjournment extended

3-6(3) Notification of recall or extension
3-6(4) Non-receipt of notification
3-6(5) Recall of extension if Speaker absent
3-7(1) Quorum of 15
3-7(2) Bells for quorum call
3-7(3) Lack of quorum during sitting
3-7(4) Business adjourned if lack of quorum


4-1 Prayers
  Senators' Statements and Tributes
4-2(1) Senators' Statements
4-2(2) 15 minutes for Senators' Statements
4-2(3) Senators' Statements limited to three minutes each
4-2(4) Priority to oral notice of question of privilege
4-2(5)(a) Subject matter of Senators' Statements
4-2(5)(b) Limitation on Senators' Statements
4-2(6) No debate during Senators' Statements
4-2(7) No motions during Senators' Statements
4-2(8)(a) Extending time for Senators' Statements
4-2(8)(b) Evening suspension delayed when Senators' Statements extended
4-3(1) Tributes
4-3(2) Tributes limited to three minutes each
4-3(3) No leave to extend tributes
4-3(4) Acknowledgements of tributes
4-3(5) Tributes in publications
4-3(6) No bar to other tributes
4-4(1) Emergency debate request instead of Senators' Statements
4-4(2) When tributes or notice of a question of privilege
  Routine Proceedings
4-5 Routine Proceedings
4-6(1) Standing votes deferred during Routine Proceedings
4-6(2) Dilatory and procedural motions during Routine Proceedings
  Question Period
4-7 Start of Question Period and limit of 30 minutes
4-8(1) Oral questions
4-8(2) No debate during Question Period
4-8(3) Supplementary questions
4-9 Oral questions answered in writing
  Written Questions and Delayed Answers
4-10(1) Written questions
4-10(2) Replies to written questions
4-10(3) Delayed Answers
  Points of Order and Questions of Privilege
4-11(1) Points of order relating to Routine Proceedings or Question Period
4-11(2) Questions of privilege relating to Routine Proceedings or Question Period
4-11(3) Points of order and questions of privilege not allowed during Routine Proceedings or Question Period
  Orders of the Day and Notices
4-12 Orders and notices called after Question Period
4-13(1) Priority of Government Business
4-13(2) Consideration of Government Business
4-13(3) Ordering of Government Business
4-14 Consideration of Other Business
4-15(1) Item not disposed of
4-15(2) Items dropped after 15 sitting days without being considered
4-15(3) Limit on adjourning debate in own name after speech started
4-16(1) Orders of the Day to be called at 8 p.m. or noon
4-16(2) Possible interruption at 8 p.m. or noon


  Giving Notice
5-1 Notice given orally and in writing
5-2 Subject of inquiry – restriction
5-3 Notice for absent Senator
5-4 Objectionable notice
  Notice Periods
5-5 One day's notice for certain motions
5-6(1) Two days' notice for certain motions
5-6(2) Two days' notice for inquiries
5-7 No notice required
  Motions and Inquiries
5-8(1) Debatable motions
5-8(2) Inquiries debatable
5-8(3) Non-debatable motions
5-9 Preambles – restriction
5-10(1) Withdrawal or modification of a motion or an inquiry
5-10(2) Withdrawal of notice of a motion or of an inquiry
5-11 Motions to be seconded
5-12 No motions on resolved questions, five days' notice for rescission
  Motions to Adjourn the Senate
5-13(1) Motion to adjourn always in order
5-13(2) Who may move motion to adjourn
5-13(3) Motion to adjourn put immediately
5-13(4) Standing vote on motion to adjourn
5-13(5) More than one motion – restriction


  Recognition in Debate
6-1 Recognition by the Speaker
6-2(1) Senators to speak only once
6-2(2) Clarification in case of misunderstanding
  Speaking Time
6-3(1) Time limits for speakers
6-3(1)(a) Leaders
6-3(1)(b) Sponsor of bill
6-3(1)(c) Critic of bill
6-3(1)(d) Others
6-3(2) Speeches to be time by Clerk
  Process of Debate
6-4(1) One Senator to speak at a time

Motion to hear another Senator

6-4(3) If motion to hear another Senator adopted
6-5(1) Yielding to another Senator for debate
6-5(2) Yielding for debate counts as speaking
6-5(3) Yielding to another Senator for questions
6-6 Quoting Commons speeches
6-7 Reading the question
6-8 Motion
6-9(1) Previous question
6-9(2) Application of previous question
6-9(3) No previous question in committee
6-9(4) Speaking after previous question moved
6-9(5) Adopting previous question
6-9(6) Defeating previous question
6-10(1) Motion to adjourn Government Business
6-10(2) Motion to adjourn Other Business
6-11 Mover or seconder may speak later
6-12(1) Right of final reply
6-12(2) Exception to right of final reply
6-12(3) Closing debate


  Unparliamentary language
6-13(1) Objectionable speech
6-13(2) Unparliamentary language
6-13(3) Retractions and apologies


  With Agreement
7-1(1) Agreement to allocate time
7-1(2) Motion on agreement to allocate time
7-1(3) Question on agreement to allocate time put immediately
  Without Agreement
7-2(1) No agreement to allocate time
7-2(2) Notice of motion to allocate time
7-2(3) Motion to allocate time made an order of the day
7-2(4) Only one stage of a bill
7-2(5) Content of motion to allocate time
  Debate on Motions to Allocate Time
7-3(1) Procedure for debate on motion to allocate time
7-3(2) Resuming debate on motion to allocate time after evening suspension
  Time-Allocated Government Order of the Day
7-4(1) Government order to which time is allocated
7-4(2) Debate to continue beyond ordinary time of adjournment and no evening suspension
7-4(3) Debate on time-allocated government item resumes if interrupted for deferred vote
7-4(4) Debate on time-allocated government item resumes if interrupted for other items of business
7-4(5) Question put on time-allocated order
7-4(6) Automatic adjournment in certain cases


  Request for Emergency Debate
8-1(1) Raising a matter of urgent public interest
8-1(2) Giving notice for emergency debate
8-2(1) Content of notice
8-2(2) Translation and distribution
8-2(3) Non-receipt
8-3(1) Order of debate
8-3(2) Reasons for debate
8-3(3) Time limit for request for emergency debate
8-3(4) No motions during request for emergency debate
8-3(5) Urgency decided by Speaker
  Process for Emergency Debate
8-4(1) Adjournment motion for emergency debate
8-4(2) Emergency debate after case of privilege
8-4(3) Speaking times
8-4(4) Limitations on motions
8-4(5) Maximum duration of emergency debate
8-4(6) Where Orders of the Day completed before emergency debate
8-4(7) Where Orders of the Day not completed before emergency debate
8-4(8) Extension of sitting if required
8-5 Only one emergency debate per sitting


  General Principle
9-1 Questions decided by majority of voices

Voice Votes

9-2(1) Procedure for voice vote
9-2(2) If no standing vote requested
  Standing Votes
9-3 Request of two Senators
9-4 No debate after vote called
9-5 Ordinary procedure for determining the duration of bells
9-6 15-minute bells for scheduled vote
9-7(1) Proceedure for a standing vote
9-7(2) Withdrawal or change of vote
9-8(1) While a vote is in progress
9-8(2) Public galleries
9-9 Adjournment suspended during vote
  Deferred Standing Votes
9-10(1) Deferral of standing vote
9-10(2) Time for deferred vote
9-10(3) Vote deferred only once
9-10(4) Vote deferred to Friday
9-10(5) No deferral in relation to consequential business
9-10(6) Bells to be rung once for a series of votes
9-10(7) No adjournment until after deferred vote


  Stages of the Legislative Process
10-1 Pro forma bill
10-2 Right to inroduce bill
10-3 Introduction, first reading and printing
10-4 Second reading
10-5 Reconsideration of clauses of a bill
10-6 Third reading
  Supply Bills
10-7 Royal Recommendation
10-8 No extraneous clauses

Senate Bills

10-9 No duplication of Senate bills in the same session
10-10(1) Form of amending bill
10-10(2) Typographical indications of amendments
10-10(3) Explanatory notes on amending bill
10-10(4) Reprints of Senate bills
  Pre-Study of Commons Bills
10-11(1) Referral of subject matter of bill to committee
10-11(2) Notice of motion to refer the subject matter of a bill


11-1(1) Petitions from individuals
11-1(2) Petitions from corporations
11-1(3) Petitions on behalf of public meetings
  Petitions for Private Bills
11-2(1) Private bill introduced after petition and examination
11-2(2) Suspension rules
  Examiner of Petitions for Private Bills
11-3(1) Appointment of Examiner
11-3(2) Examination of petitions
11-3(3) If petition is in order
11-3(4) If petition is defective

Notice and Publication

11-4 Publication of rules
11-5(1) Publication in the Canada Gazette
11-5(2) Content of notice
11-5(3) Company name
11-5(4) Notice in newspapers
11-5(5) Frequency and language of notice
11-5(6) Notice to government departments
11-5(7) Statutory declaration
11-6 Deposit of bill and fees
11-7 Public bill rules to apply generally
11-8 Obligatory referral of a private bill to a committee
11-9 No referral to Committee on the Whole
11-10 Minimum time before committee study
11-11 Questions about provincial jurisdiction
11-12 Private bill from the Commons
11-13 Private Bill Register
11-14 Notice of committee meetings
11-15 Interested persons
11-16 Notice of substantive amendments to private bills
11-17 Commons amendments referred to committee before consideration by Senate
11-18 Reference of private bill to Supreme Court


  Committee of Selection
12-1 Appointment of Committee of Selection
12-2(1)(a) Nomination of Speaker pro tempore
12-2(1)(b) Term of appointment of Speaker pro tempore
12-2(2) Nomination of standing or standing joint committee members
12-2(3) Term of appointment of members of committees
12-2(4) Powers of the Committee of Selection
12-2(5) Committee of Selection is neither a standing nor special committee
12-2(6) Quorum of Committee of Selection
  Membership of Committees
12-3(1) Committee membership – general
12-3(2) Committee membership – certain committees
12-3(3) Ex officio members
12-4 Standing joint committees
12-5 Membership changes
12-6 Quorum of standing committees
  Standing Committees of the Senate
12-7 Appointment and general mandates
12-7(1) Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
12-7(2) Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament
12-7(3) Official Languages
12-7(4) Foreign Affairs and International Trade
12-7(5) National Finance
12-7(6) Transport and Communications
12-7(7) Legal and Constitutional Affairs
12-7(8) Banking, Trade and Commerce
12-7(9) Social Affairs, Science and Technology
12-7(10) Agriculture and Forestry
12-7(11) Fisheries and Oceans
12-7(12) Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
12-7(13) Aboriginal Peoples
12-7(14) Human Rights
12-7(15) National Security and Defence
12-7(16) Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators
  Orders of Reference to Committees
12-8(1) Referral of a matter to any committee
12-8(2) User fee proposals
Powers of Standing Committees and Standing Joint Committees
12-9(1) Power to conduct inquiries and report
12-9(2) Power to send for persons and papers and to publish papers
Special and Legislative Committees
12-10(1) Special committees
12-10(2) Special committees – mover of motion as member
12-11 Legislative committees
12-12(1) Appointment
12-12(2) Membership
12-12(3) Quorum
12-12(4) Procedure
12-12(5) In camera meetings
12-12(6) Reports
12-13 Organization meeting
12-14 Participation of non-members
12-15(1) Notice of meetings
12-15(2) Meetings public
12-16(1) In camera meetings
12-16(2) In camera meetings of joint committees
12-17 Meetings without quorum
12-18(1) Meetings on day Senate sits
12-18(2) Meetings on days the Senate is adjourned
12-19(1) Power to adjourn
12-19(2) Meetings outside the parliamentary precinct
  Committee Procedures
12-20(1) Proceedings in committee
12-20(1)(a) Addressing the chair
12-20(1)(b) Seconder not required
12-20(1)(c) Motion defeated when votes equal
12-20(1)(d) Notice not required
12-20(2) Before recoded vote
12-20(3) Clause-by-clause consideration
12-20(4) Inconsistency with the Rules and practices of the Senate
12-21 Smoking prohibited

Committee Reports

12-22(1) Majority conclusions
12-22(2) Presentation or tabling
12-22(3) Tabled for information only
12-22(4) No debate when report presented or tabled
12-22(5) Reports on user fees
12-22(6) Debate on a tabled report
  Reports on Bills
12-23(1) Obligation to report bill
12-23(2) Report on bill without amendment
12-23(3) Reporting bill with amendments
12-23(4) Amendments to be explained
12-23(5) Reporting against bill
12-23(6) Signing of amended bill
  Government Responses to Reports
12-24(1) Request for government response
12-24(2) Communication of request
12-24(3) Tabling response
12-24(4) Response or explanation deemed referred to committee
12-24(5) Absence of response and explanation deemed referred to committee
  Committee expenditures
12-25 Payment of witnesses' expenses
12-26(1) Financial operations
12-26(2) Report on expenses
12-26(3) When committee not reconstituted
12-26(4) Printing of report
  Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators
12-27(1) Appointment of Committee
12-27(2) Quorum of  Committee
12-28(1) In camera meetings
12-28(2) Participation of non-members
12-29 Adjournment of the Senate
12-30(1) Motion deemed made
12-30(2) Minimum period for consideration of report
12-30(3) Referral back to the committee
12-30(4) Former senator
12-30(5) Maximum period for consideration of report
12-30(6) Voting
12-30(7) Deferred vote on report
12-31 Report deposited with the Clerk

Committees of the Whole

12-32(1) No notice required for Committee of the Whole
12-32(2) Proceedings recorded
12-32(3) Procedure in Committee of the Whole
12-32(4) Participation of ministers in Committee of the Whole
12-32(5) Witnesses in Committee of the Whole
12-33(1) Motion to leave chair or report progress
12-33(2) Adoption of motion to leave chair


  Breach of Privilege
13-1 Duty to preserve privileges
13-2(1) Criteria for priority
13-2(2) Substantive motion
  Giving Notice
13-3(1) Written notice of question of privilege
13-3(2) Translation and distribution
13-3(3) Non-receipt of notice
13-3(4) Oral notice of question of privilege
13-4 Question of privilege without notice
  Consideration of a Question of Privilege
13-5(1) Consideration of question of privilege
13-5(2) When question of privilege without notice considered
13-5(3) Order of consideration
13-5(4) Debates to be in succession
13-5(5) Prima facie determination by Speaker
13-6(1) Motion relating to a case of privilege
13-6(2) Debate on motion on case of privilege
13-6(3) Time limits on speaking on motion on case of privilege
13-6(4) Limit of three hours
13-6(5) Debate may be adjourned
13-6(6) Continuation of debate on motion on case of privilege beyond ordinary time of adjournment on first day of debate
13-6(7) Vote deferred
13-6(8) Vote on case of privilege automatically deferred in certain circumstances
13-6(9) Where Orders of the Day completed
13-6(10) Where Orders of the Day not completed
13-6(11) Where emergency debate or question of privilege follows motion on case of privilege



Tabling Documents and Accounts

14-1(1) Tabling by Government
14-1(2) Tabling ordered by Senate
14-1(3) Tabling by other Senators
14-1(4) Tabling during debate
14-1(5) Record of tabling in Journals and Debates
14-1(6) Tabling through the Clerk
14-1(7) Record of tabling in Journals
14-2 Royal prerogative

Journals of the Senate

14-3 Copies to Governor General
14-4 Searching of Journals
14-5 Publishing
14-6 Binding
  Broadcasting of the Senate and Committee Proceedings
14-7(1) Audio broadcast of Senate proceedings
14-7(2) Permission to broadcast
14-7(3) Alternative arrangements


15-1(1) Duty to attend the Senate
15-1(2) Failure to attend two sessions
15-1(3) Deductions from sessional allowance

Leaves of Absence and Suspensions

15-2(1) Authorized leaves and suspensions
15-2(2) Leaves of absence – preventive
15-2(3) Absence obligatory
15-2(4) Avoiding disqualification
15-3(1) Deduction if suspended
15-3(2) Access to resources
15-3(3) Deductions restored
15-3(4) Suspension of Allowances
15-4(1) Notice of charge
15-4(2) Leave of absence for accused Senator
15-4(3) Duration of leave of absence
15-4(4) Leave of absence reinstated
15-4(5) Presumption of innocence

Senate resources in case of leave of absence

15-5(1) Suspension of Senator
15-5(2) Duration of suspension
15-5(3) Report of conviction
15-6(1) Renewal of Declaration of Qualification
15-6(2) Tabling of declarations by Clerk
15-7(1) Declaration of private interest
15-7(2) Restrictions if declaration of interest
15-7(3) If declaration made in camera


  Messages from the Crown
16-1(1) Access to Senate Chamber
16-1(2) Fixing time for event
16-1(3)(a) Reading of messages
16-1(3)(b) If a vote underway
16-1(4) Adjournment delayed after receipt of message
16-1(5) Suspension of sitting after receipt of message
16-1(6) Standing vote may be postponed if in conflict with message
16-1(7) Interruption of debate
16-1(8) Message on Royal Assent
  Messages Between the Houses and Conferences
16-2(1) Sending and receiving messages
16-2(2) Messages from Commons read
16-3(1) Senate disagreement with Commons amendments
16-3(2) Commons disagreement with Senate amendments
16-3(3) Preparing reasons
16-3(4) Messages relating to bills on which the houses disagree
16-3(5) Free conference
16-3(6) Speaking at conferences
16-4(1) Senators attending before the Commons
16-4(2) Voluntary attendance
16-4(3) Senate officers and employees attending before Commons
16-4(4) Penalty

APPENDIX I: Terminology


APPENDIX II: Provincial Representations to Senate Committees


APPENDIX III: Cabinet Ministers Being Members of Senate Committees


APPENDIX IV: Procedure for Dealing with Unauthorized Disclosure of Confidential Committee Reports and Other Documents or Proceedings



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