Each Senator brings to Parliament a wealth of professional and personal experience which contributes to this Chamber’s legislative role and offers regional representation to Canadians. In addition to representing different regions of the country, the Senate shows greater gender and ethnic diversity in its composition than the House of Commons.Before being appointed, many senators worked as lawyers, doctors, farmers, business people, teachers, journalists, and sometimes – but not always – politicians. Each of us takes part in Chamber activities such as debates and question period, caucus and committee meetings and many other functions. As the “Chamber of Sober Second Thought” we examine all legislation coming from the House of Commons and we also introduce bills ourselves. This work takes place in committee and in the Chamber and often includes rigorous analysis and vigorous debate.Each Senator sits on two or three committees where we study different issues ranging from the economy, health, children, housing, transportation, human rights, agriculture, to name a few. During these meetings, we hear from experts from across the country who appear as witnesses. Library of Parliament researchers provide us with information and documentation. We ask questions and engage in discussion with witnesses and then produce reports with specific recommendations that we submit to government.
We are also active as advocates for various causes and groups that we want to help. For example, senators have been instrumental in bringing to the attention of Canadians the plight of people with mental health problems, the need for post-secondary education, literacy and child care programs, and growing poverty in cities and rural areas.
When Parliament is adjourned, we travel to the regions we represent. This allows us to hear about local issues and gives us the opportunity to air these concerns on the national stage.
By virtue of our appointment, we are able to focus on long-range issues that may not receive the same attention by politicians running for re-election. In this way, we provide a balance to Parliament that ensures that legislation and important concerns facing Canadians get the attention they deserve.