Skip to content

Rules of the Senate

Chapter Two: The Speaker, Order and Decorum

The Speaker

Speaker’s duties

2-1. (1) The Speaker shall:

(a) preside over the proceedings of the Senate;
(b) rule on points of order, the prima facie merits of questions of privilege and requests for emergency debates; and
(c) preserve order and decorum.

Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators

2-1. (2) For greater certainty, the Speaker’s authority with respect to the Ethics and Conflict of Interest Code for Senators is limited to those provisions of the Code expressly incorporated in the Rules of the Senate.

Speech from the Throne reported

2-2. The Speaker shall report the Speech from the Throne after a pro forma bill has been read a first time at the beginning of a session.

Participation of Speaker in debate

2-3. The Speaker may participate in any debate except when hearing arguments on a point of order, a question of privilege or a request for an emergency debate, on each of which the Speaker is required to rule. To participate in a debate, the Speaker shall leave the chair.

Election of the Speaker pro tempore

2-4. (1) At the beginning of the first session of each parliament, and at any subsequent time during the course of sessions of that parliament that the position becomes vacant, the Speaker pro tempore shall be elected by secret ballot, provided that if more than two senators stand for election, the election will be conducted by ranked ballot.

Process of Election

2-4. (2) Within the first five sitting days of a parliament, and subsequently within the first five sitting days of a vacancy arising in the position of Speaker pro tempore during the course of the parliament, the Speaker shall, after consulting with the Leader of the Government, the Leader of the Opposition, and the leader or facilitator of any other recognized party or recognized parliamentary group, inform the Senate of the process for senators to become candidates and for the conduct of the election.

Term of office of Speaker pro tempore

2-4. (3) Once the Speaker pro tempore has been elected by the Senate, they shall serve for the duration of the session.

Subsequent sessions

2-4. (4) At the beginning of any subsequent session in the same parliament, if a sitting senator held the position of Speaker pro tempore at the time of prorogation of the previous session, a motion to again name that senator as Speaker pro tempore will be deemed moved, seconded and adopted, without debate or vote, immediately after the Speaker reports the Speech from the Throne and any consequential business arising from the Speech.

When Speaker leaves the chair

2-4. (5) When leaving the chair during a sitting, the Speaker shall call upon the Speaker pro tempore or another Senator to take the chair and preside as Speaker either until the Speaker resumes the chair or for the remainder of the sitting.

Absence of Speaker

2-4. (6) When the Senate is informed by the Clerk of the unavoidable absence of the Speaker, the Speaker pro tempore or, in the absence of the Speaker pro tempore, another Senator chosen by the Senate shall preside as Speaker until the Speaker or the Speaker pro tempore resumes the chair.

Acts valid

2-4. (7) Every act done by the Speaker pro tempore or any Senator occupying the chair as Speaker under this rule shall have the same effect and validity as if the act had been done by the Speaker.

Parliament of Canada Act, sections 17-19

Speaker’s Rulings


2-5. (1) The Speaker shall hear arguments before ruling on a point of order or a question of privilege. When the Speaker has heard sufficient argument to reach a decision, a ruling may be made immediately or the matter may be taken under advisement. The Senate shall then resume consideration of the item of interrupted business or proceed to the next item, as the circumstances warrant.

Explanation of rulings

2-5. (2) In ruling on a point of order or a question of privilege, the Speaker shall give the reasons for the ruling and cite any rules, practices or authorities on which the ruling is based.

Appeals of rulings

2-5. (3) Any Senator may appeal a Speaker’s ruling at the time it is given, except one relating to the expiry of speaking times. The appeal shall be decided immediately using the ordinary procedure for determining the duration of the bells.

Order and Decorum

Interruption of proceedings

2-6. (1) The Speaker may interrupt any proceeding in order to restore order or enforce the Rules.

Suspension of sitting

2-6. (2) In the event of grave disorder, the Speaker may suspend the sitting of the Senate for up to three hours.

When Speaker in the chair

2-7. (1) After the Speaker has taken the chair:

(a) Senators shall bow to the chair when entering, leaving or crossing the chamber;
(b) no one shall pass between the chair and the Senator who is speaking; and
(c) no one shall pass between the chair and the table.

When Speaker rises

2-7. (2) When the Speaker rises, all other Senators shall take their seats or remain seated.

When Speaker addresses the Senate

2-7. (3) When addressing the Senate, the Speaker shall stand head uncovered.

Senator called to order

2-7. (4) When the Speaker calls a Senator to order, the Senator shall cease speaking until the point of order has been resolved. The Senator may participate in debate on the point of order.

When Speaker leaves the chamber

2-7. (5) When the Senate adjourns, Senators shall stand until the Speaker has left the chamber.

Speaker may leave the chair

2-7. (6) When the sitting is suspended or the bells are ringing, the Speaker may leave the chair for the duration of the suspension or the bells.

Disruption during sitting

2-8. When the Senate is sitting, it is not permitted:

(a) for Senators to engage in private conversations inside the bar, and if they do, the Speaker shall order them to go outside the bar; and
(b) to use an electronic device that produces any sound in any part of the chamber, including the public galleries, unless the device is used as a hearing aid.

Disputes between Senators

2-9. (1) The Senate may intervene to resolve any dispute between Senators arising from a debate or other proceeding in the Senate or in any committee.

Redress of grievance

2-9. (2) Senators who consider themselves to have been offended or injured in the Senate Chamber, a committee room or any of the rooms belonging to the Senate may appeal to the Senate for redress.

Distinguished Visitors, Invited Persons and Strangers

Former Senators and current members of House of Commons

2-10. Former Senators and current members of the House of Commons who wish to hear the debates may use the seats reserved for them outside the bar.

Distinguished visitors

2-11. A Senator who wishes to call attention to the presence in the gallery of a distinguished visitor shall give the Speaker written notice to that effect. The Speaker may then inform the Senate accordingly and offer words of welcome.

Participation of ministers in chamber

2-12. (1) When a bill or other matter relating to the administrative responsibility of the government is being considered by the Senate, a minister who is not a Senator may, on invitation of the Senate, enter the chamber and take part in debate.

Rules and practices apply

2-12. (2) Anyone who is invited to enter the chamber and take part in debate is subject to the Rules and practices of the Senate.

Strangers ordered to withdraw

2-13. (1) When, during a sitting of the Senate or a Committee of the Whole, a Senator objects to the presence of strangers, the question “That strangers be ordered to withdraw” shall be decided immediately.

Prior motion not required

2-13. (2) The Speaker or chair may, on their own initiative, order strangers to withdraw.

Clearing of galleries

2-13. (3) When strangers are ordered to withdraw, the public galleries shall be cleared, but individuals authorized to be in any part of the chamber during a sitting shall continue to have access to it.

Back to top