Senate VacanciesPublished on 24 March 2015 Your Question Period by Senator Joan Fraser (retired)
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Hon. Joan Fraser (Deputy Leader of the Opposition):
This is a question for the Leader of the Government in the Senate, and it comes from Simon Potter of Montreal, whom the leader may know. He’s an eminent lawyer, former head of the Canadian Bar Association, and he asks:
Why is it not a dereliction of constitutional duty for the growing number of Senate vacancies not to be filled?
The Constitution Act, 1867 says in section 24:
The Governor General shall from Time to Time, in the Queen’s Name, by Instrument under the Great Seal of Canada, summon qualified Persons to the Senate . . . .
Section 21 says:
The Senate shall, subject to the Provisions of this Act, consist of One Hundred and five Members, who shall be styled Senators.
Mr. Potter’s second question is:
Is it respectful of the Constitution’s view of the legislative branch simply to ignore the “shall” obligation to fill vacancies?
Finally, Mr. Potter asks:
Can the Senate fill its intended role of ensuring regional and other representation if vacancies are allowed to pile up?
It is notorious that they have been allowed to do for some time now.