Peter Harder

Senator Peter Harder, P.C.

  • Province: Ontario (Ottawa)
  • Affiliation: Non-affiliated
  • Telephone: 613-995-0222
  • Fax: 613-995-0207
  • Email:  vCard
  • Staff: Allen, Renée; McKendry, Martin; Lavoie, Lucie; Ménard, Éric-Antoine; Gunn-Doerge, Benjamin; Fedio, Chloé; Crosson-Gooderham, Amélie; Laghi, Brian; El-Farouk, Nour; Zeinali, Maya; Lévesque, Geneviève; Penney, Michael
  • Personal Website:


Peter Harder entered the Upper Chamber in April 2016, as the first Independent Senator appointed under a new non-partisan selection process that invites all eligible Canadians to submit applications. He arrived in the Senate with nearly 30 years of experience in the federal public service, and a decade serving as a volunteer in various organizations and as a member of several boards of directors. He also served as president of the Canada China Business Council.

As Government Representative in the Senate, he is tasked with both shepherding government legislation through the Upper Chamber and leading efforts on reform towards a more independent, accountable and transparent institution.

Small-town roots

Senator Harder was born in Winnipeg but grew up in Vineland, Ont., in the Niagara Region. His parents, refugees from the former USSR, owned a local grocery store where he worked as a teen. He studied political science at the University of Waterloo before moving to Ottawa to work as a Parliamentary intern. After completing graduate studies at Queen’s University, he joined the foreign service in 1977, and soon after served as an assistant to then-minister Flora MacDonald. He then served as chief of staff to the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, then leader of the opposition and, subsequently, the deputy prime minister in the first government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Sober second thought

Senator Harder served as the founding executive director of the Immigration and Refugee Board. He was first appointed as deputy minister in 1991 – a role he eventually would play under five different prime ministers and 12 ministers, including in the departments of immigration, public safety, industry, the treasury board and foreign affairs. As a former senior official who frequently appeared before Senate committees, he has often noted the quality of the questions posed by Senators, and their deep commitment towards conducting in-depth examinations of proposed legislation. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, classical music and working out.

Senator Harder lives in Ottawa with his wife. His son serves as a diplomat at Canada’s embassy in Beijing.

Senate Business

Committee Membership

The following are ex officio members of all committees except for the Standing Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest for Senators and the joint committees:

  • the Leader of the Government (Government Representative) and the Leader of the Opposition or, in the absence of either, their respective Deputy Leaders; and

Pursuant to the Order of the Senate of November 7, 2017:

  • the Legislative Deputy to the Government Representative or the Government Liaison, in the absence of the Government Representative; and
  • the leader or facilitator of any recognized party or recognized parliamentary group or, in their absence, the designated deputy leader or deputy facilitator.