Rules of the Senate of Canada

Chapter Nine: Voting

 

General Principle

Questions decided by majority of voices

9-1. Questions arising in the Senate shall be decided by a majority of voices, and the Speaker shall in all cases have a vote. When the voices are equal, the question shall be decided in the negative.

REFERENCE
Constitution Act, 1867, section 36

 

Voice Votes

Procedure for voice vote 9-2. (1) When a question is put to a vote, the Speaker shall ask for the “yeas” and “nays” and shall decide whether the question is carried or defeated.

If no standing vote requested

9-2. (2) In the absence of a request for a standing vote, the decision of the Speaker cannot be appealed.

 

Standing Votes

Request of two Senators

9-3. After a voice vote, upon the request of at least two Senators made before the Senate takes up other business, the Speaker shall call for a standing vote.

No debate after vote called

9-4. Without leave of the Senate, no Senator shall speak in debate on a question after the order has been given to call in the Senators to vote on that question.

Ordinary procedure for determining the duration of bells

9-5. Except as otherwise provided, the ordinary procedure for determining the duration of the bells for a standing vote shall be as follows:

(1) The Speaker shall ask the Government and Opposition Whips if there is an agreement on the length of time the bells shall ring.
(2) The time proposed by the Whips shall not be more than 60 minutes.
(3) With leave of the Senate, this agreement of the Whips shall constitute an order to sound the bells for that length of time.
(4) In the absence of an agreement or leave of the Senate, the bells shall be sounded for 60 minutes.

EXCEPTION
Rule 7-4(5): Question put on time-allocated order
Rule 9-6: 15-minute bells for scheduled vote
Rule 12-30(7): Deferred vote on report
Rule 16-1(6): Standing vote may be postponed if in conflict with message

15 minute bells for scheduled vote

9-6. Except as otherwise provided or ordered by the Senate, when a standing vote is required to take place at a certain time, the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings 15 minutes before that time and shall order the bells to ring.

EXCEPTION
Rule 16-1(6): Standing vote may be postponed if in conflict with message

Procedure for a standing vote

9-7. (1) At the end of the time provided for the ringing of the bells, the Speaker shall:

(a) announce the names of Senators present who have made and not retracted a declaration of private interest in the matter, and whose names shall not be called except to abstain;
(b) inform the Senate, if applicable, that a Senator who is the subject of a report of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators shall not vote on any motion relating to the report, and that the Senator's name shall not be called; and
(c) then ask the “yeas” to rise for their names to be called, followed by the “nays” and then any abstentions.

Withdrawal or change of vote

9-7. (2) A Senator’s vote may, with leave, be withdrawn or changed immediately after the results of the standing vote have been announced. The Senator shall provide reasons when requesting leave.

While a vote is in progress

9-8. (1) While a standing vote is in progress:

(a) the doors of the Senate Chamber shall not be locked, but only Senators may enter the chamber at that time;
(b) Senators shall vote only from their assigned places; and
(c) no Senator shall vote who is not within the bar when the Speaker puts the question.

Public galleries

9-8. (2) The doors to the public galleries shall be locked and remain locked while a standing vote is in progress.

Adjournment suspended during vote

9-9. When the bells for a standing vote are ringing at the ordinary time of adjournment, the adjournment shall be suspended. When the vote and any consequential business are concluded, the Speaker shall declare the Senate adjourned until the next sitting day without the question being put.

 

Deferred Standing Votes

Deferral of standing vote

9-10. (1) Except as provided in subsection (5) and elsewhere in these Rules, when a standing vote has been requested on a question that is debatable, either the Government or the Opposition Whip may defer the vote.

EXCEPTIONS
Rule 7-3(1)(h): Procedure for debate on motion to allocate time
Rule 7-4(5): Question put on time-allocated order
Rule 12-30(7): Deferred vote on report
Rule 12-32(3)(e): Procedure in Committee of the Whole
Rule 13-6(8): Vote on case of privilege automatically deferred in certain circumstances

Time for deferred vote

9-10. (2) Except as otherwise provided, when a standing vote has been deferred, it stands deferred until 5:30 p.m. on the next sitting day.

EXCEPTIONS
Rule 7-4(5): Question put on time-allocated order
Rule 12-30(7): Deferred vote on report

Vote deferred only once

9-10. (3) Except as provided in subsection (4), a vote deferred under this rule shall not be further deferred.

Vote deferred to Friday

9-10. (4) Except as otherwise provided, if a vote has been deferred to a Friday, the Government Whip may, at any time during a sitting, further defer the vote to 5:30 p.m. on the next sitting day.

EXCEPTIONS
Rule 12-30(7): Deferred vote on report
Rule 13-6(8): Vote on case of privilege automatically deferred in certain circumstances

No deferral in relation to consequential business

9-10. (5) When a deferred vote has been taken and there is consequential business that must be disposed of, the Speaker shall proceed immediately to put successively every question necessary to dispose of such consequential business. A standing vote with respect to the consequential business shall not be deferred, and no bells shall be rung.

Bells to be rung once for a series of votes

9-10. (6) When two or more deferred votes are to be taken in succession during a sitting, the bells to call in the Senators shall be rung only for the first of the deferred votes.

No adjournment until after deferred vote

9-10. (7) On the day a deferred vote is to take place, no motion to adjourn shall be in order until after that vote and the conclusion of any consequential business that must be disposed of. However, if the Senate has gone through all the Orders of the Day and notices before the vote, the Speaker may suspend the sitting until 15 minutes before the deferred vote.