On a quiet, spring morning in Ottawa, 15 young Canadians in black blazers and bow-ties lined up inside Parliament’s Centre Block at the entrance to the Senate Chamber. It’s a formal-looking uniform they wear — similar to one worn by waiters in a fancy restaurant or tuxedo-clad orchestra musicians — that reflects the solemnity of the institution they serve.
“You got time for a quick snap?” asked Senator Doug Black as he walked by. “Can’t thank you enough for all the work you help us with!”
Standing alongside them, one of Parliament’s volunteer bagpipers, began to fill Parliament’s stone halls with the sound of Scotland.
With bagpipes calling, in walked Senate Speaker George J. Furey, Q.C. to lead this fresh batch of Senate pages into the chamber for their swearing-in ceremony.
Pages support the work of the Senate and its committees on a variety of levels, such as distributing relevant documents, relaying messages, running errands for senators and ringing the bells of the Senate, which announce the beginning and end of each sitting. Senate pages are college or university students from across the country, but who work in the Red Chamber while studying in the National Capital Region.
“The presence of pages in our legislature is a parliamentary tradition. It dates back almost 150 years, before the age of microphones, Blackberries, and heavy-duty photocopiers,” Speaker Furey said.
“Senate pages serve with efficiency, discretion and the utmost dedication to this institution.”
Awaiting the pages in the chamber, a group of senators had gathered to honour them for their year of long hours and hard work. But while today the pages were seated in the opposition benches, a spirit of teamwork was in the air.
And then, with 15 right hands raised, the pages joined Clerk of the Senate Charles Robert in reciting the page’s oath.
“Congratulations on your swearing-in,” Speaker Furey said.
“I hope that this experience leaves you with a renewed sense of pride and a greater appreciation of what you can do for your country.”
Speaker Furey mentioned that many Senate pages end up finding future careers Parliament Hill — and some even find work in the Speaker’s office! However, Robert seemed to up the ante, noting that one of his predecessors had been a Senate page too.
Regardless, senators welcome another cohort of pages, bringing with them what Usher of the Black Rod J. Greg Peters called that “youthful enthusiasm that is infectious.”
Interested in becoming a Senate page? Apply now!