• Introduction
  • Forewords
  • Fiscal Year 2008-09 in the Senate
  • Tackling the Issues
  • In the Senate Chamber Debate
  • In Senators' Public Policy BillsIn Committee Special StudiesIn Government Bills
  • Outside the Senate
  • The Speaker of the Senate
  • The Speaker as Presiding Officer
  • The Speaker as Diplomat
  • Senators on March 31, 2009
  • The Senate's Administration and Finances
  • The Senate Administration
  • Financial Report
  • Learn more about the Senate
  • Appendixes
  • Senate Membership 2008-09
  • Holders of Key Roles in the Senate on March 31, 2009
  • Bills considered by the Senate 2008-09
  • Senate Committee Special study Reports 2008-09
  • Senate Committee Membership 2008-09
  • Key Senate Terms
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Introduction

In modern times, the Senate has become a kind of high-end policy think-tank.

Michael Den Tandt,
The Calgary Sun,
December 30, 2008

The Senate was born with our country in 1867. Roughly 900 senators have held office since then. Though the Senate itself has changed much over the years, the independence guaranteed to these men and women has not. It is this independence that has always allowed them to speak up, through our history, for the people they represent and causes they hold dear - no matter how small the group or how politically unpopular the cause.

This chain of representation stretches back to our foundation as a country. Today's senators continue this work, forging the newest links by tackling the issues that define our country today. They continue, in the best tradition of the Senate, to find solutions for the problems they see and stand up for Canadians.

Detail from the Famous Five Sculpture

On my first day as a senator, I came to Parliament Hill and looked at the statue of the Famous Five . . . [who] campaigned for years before women finally became "qualified persons". It was only after their legal victory in 1929 that women could be appointed to the Senate. Without their courage and determination, I wouldn't be on the Hill. The Famous Five wanted women to influence public policy and law - to bring women's life experiences, values and aspirations into public choices. I do, too.

Senator Nancy Ruth, her website

While the "other Chamber" represents the will of the people, we represent the will of those who struggle to be heard; those who are inclined to remain silent; those who are too often set aside, who feel forgotten. The Canadian democratic system was founded on a respect for the rights of minorities, and we . . . are the guarantors of that promise.

History has promised the French-speaking linguistic minority a place in Canada. . . . I stand before you today on behalf of those people, and insofar as I can be part of your family, they will be, too. I will keep my promise.

Senator Maria Chaput, Debates of the Senate


Literacy has been an important cause in my life since I began my first Senate assignment as a member of the Special Committee on Youth 22 years ago . . . . We were stunned by something we did not expect and knew virtually nothing about: the lack of literacy skills and the enormous impediment to social and economic participation that such an absence of learning opportunity posed, to say nothing of the psychological anguish and the shame.

Senator Joyce Fairbairn, her website

We've never yet been on a [Canadian Forces] base - and we've been on every base, here and abroad, I think - where we haven't learned something new, heard something new, which can send us off in a new and different direction.

Senator Tommy Banks, member of the National Security and Defence Committee, interview with Army News


In my view, we need to find new ways, tools and incentives to bring about a change in "spirit" and to motivate a mindset change in our society - to one that both understands and embraces the benefits of diversity and immigration as much-needed agents of positive change for our society. To this end, leaders in government, business and education need to actively model the way for our citizens and for our minorities, by providing real leadership and policies that support the business case for diversity.

Senator Donald Oliver, speech to the Canada Revenue Agency


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