... a reduction of the term of office might impair the functioning of the Senate in providing what Sir John A. Macdonald described as the sober second thought in legislation. The Act contemplated a constitution similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom, where members of the House of Lords hold office for life. The imposition of compulsory retirement at age seventy-five did not change the essential character of the Senate.
— The Supreme Court of Canada in Re: Authority of Parliament in relation to the Upper House,  1 S.C.R. 54, pp. 7677
As previously noted, the system of regional representation in the Senate was one of the essential features of that body when it was created. Without it, the fundamental character of the Senate as part of the Canadian federal scheme would be eliminated.
—The Supreme Court of Canada in Re: Authority of Parliament in relation to the Upper House,  1 S.C.R. 54, p. 76
“What happens in the Senate chamber?”
Senate rules allow it to sit from Monday to Friday, and meet as often as necessary to take care of business. The full Senate usually sits on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Mondays and Fridays are office and travel days, except in the busier periods. Travel days allow senators to live in their home provinces among the people they represent.
In the Senate chamber, time is devoted each day to matters such as presenting petitions, tabling documents, discussing committee reports and passing laws. There is also a Question Period when senators ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate about government actions and policies.
Debates in the Senate, where members need not run for their seats, differ from those in other legislatures in important ways. They are sometimes less partisan, and focus more closely on the issues. But when the matter at hand is contentious, debates in the Senate often match the heat of Commons' debates.
The Senate chamber is a place where national issues, regional concerns and protests can receive quick attention. With two days' notice, senators can launch debates on subjects important to the public. If there is enough support, senators can establish a committee to explore the matter further in meetings that can enjoy high visibility.
If the Senate is in session, the Speaker will be sitting in the Chair. Senators in the governing party are to the Speaker's right, and those in opposition are to the left. The Speaker of the Senate is appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The Speakers duties include maintaining order and assisting the Senate in moving through its agenda. The Speaker also decides points of order, although these decisions can be appealed to the Senate.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate speaks for the government in the Senate and is a member of Cabinet. The Leader's duties include answering questions during Question Period and managing government business in the Senate. The Leader is an ex officio member of all standing Senate committees.
The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate leads the opposition in debate, coordinates its daily activities and confers with the Leader of the government on Senate business. The Leader of the Opposition is also an ex officio member of all standing committees and helps direct the opposition there as well.
Deputy leaders help their Senate leaders to prepare and manage the Senate's business. The Government deputy leader is also responsible for handling the daily and routine procedure in the Senate chamber.
Whips keep their senators informed of Senate business and schedules, and ensure there is quorum, both in the Senate and in the committees. Most importantly, they are responsible for attendance when a vote is called.
Seated at a table in the centre aisle are the Clerk and the Table officers. They advise the Speaker on the rules of the Senate. Their officials in the chamber record the Senate deliberations and decisions in both official languages, publishing them in the Debates of the Senate and in the Senate Journals. The Senate mace rests on the table, pointing toward the thrones. It is the symbol of the Senate's authority to conduct its business.
At the main entrance to the chamber, inside the brass railing known as the bar, sits the Usher of the Black Rod. The name comes from the ebony cane which Black Rod carries as a symbol of authority. The rod is used to rap on the Common's doors and summon members of that house to the Senate chamber for the Speech from the Throne or for the royal assent of bills.
Although not in the chamber, the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel is on call to advise senators on their constitutional rights: the right of a senator to attend in the Senate, the right to speak and the right to vote. Senators often instruct the Law Clerk to draft their bills and amendments for use in the chamber.
In this final stage of the legislative process, the three elements of Parliament assemble to take part in the ancient tradition, rich in symbolism, by which a bill becomes law. A representative of the Sovereign, sometimes the Governor General but more often a judge of the Supreme Court of Canada acting as a deputy of the Governor General, enters the Senate chamber and takes a seat on the dais. The senators are in their seats. The Usher of the Black Rod calls members of the House of Commons to the Senate. Led by their Speaker, the members of the House of Commons gather at the rear of the Senate chamber. The parliamentarians of both houses, by their presence, give witness to the fact that Canadians request of the Sovereign that the bill be made a law and consent to being governed by it. The title of the bill is read aloud, the representative of the Sovereign nods to signify assent, and the bill becomes law.
A bill that becomes law may come into force on the day of royal assent or on some later day provided for in the bill. The bill is sent to Government House for signature at a later date. The signed original is finally placed in the archives of the Clerk of the Senate who is also the Clerk of the Parliaments.
The Speech from the Throne, read in Parliament and televised across the nation, is the Government's agenda for that session of Parliament.
In this ceremony, the Sovereign, the Senate and the Commons join together to open a new session of Parliament. The members of the House of Commons are summoned to the Senate, where the Governor General, the Prime Minister, members of the Privy Council and senators are waiting. When the Commons Speaker and members reach the Senate, they approach the bar. If the session is the first in a new Parliament or if the Speaker is newly elected, the Speaker claims the traditional rights and privileges of the Commons. Then the Governor General reads the speech — written by the Prime Minister's Office — which sets out the policies and legislation that the government intends to introduce.
The Senate chamber has the feel of a commemorative chapel. Eight large paintings depicting scenes from World War I that were commissioned by Canadian-born Lord Beaverbrook hang on the walls above the senators' desks. The chamber is gothic in style, as is the Centre Block in which it is located. Through carvings in stone and wood, the chamber depicts plants and animals native to Canada. Stained glass windows are inset in the higher reaches of the walls, which rise up to a ceiling gilded with the crests of founding peoples. The bust of the first Sovereign, the red colour in the chamber, the names of past Governors General on the ceiling and other regal imagery suggest a third theme: this is the chamber in which the Governor General, in the name of the Sovereign, meets the representatives of the people in Parliament assembled.