The Honourable
Noël A. Kinsella

Speaker of the Senate

In the midst of continued economic and political uncertainty abroad, Canada maintains a well-earned reputation as a country where stability and freedom are enjoyed to an unparalleled degree. This is in large measure due to the work of our parliamentary institutions.

At the time of Confederation, the Senate stood as a chamber of sober second thought, a place to cool the passions of the moment reflected in bills passed by the members of the House of Commons. Although the emphasis may have changed over time, the two chambers have always worked together for the betterment of the nation.

In more recent times, the Senate and its committees have examined the protection and promotion of human rights. It has also conducted studies of the implementation of economic, cultural and social rights of Canadians, including landmark studies on health care, mental health, post-secondary education, and child poverty.

Senators use a range of discussion mechanisms to bring their unique qualifications to bear for the common good of Canadians. Senators are cognizant of their role in bringing attention to issues and their potential impact on individuals and groups.

The Senate complements the work of the House of Commons. Unintended errors in the technical drafting of bills may lead to misunderstandings when it comes to implementation and may obscure the interpretation of the law. In reviewing bills to locate and correct possible errors of this nature, the Senate draws on the wide-ranging backgrounds of its members in many different areas, including education, law, commerce, farming, military service and even entertainment.

In September 2010, Speakers and presiding officers of the upper and unicameral houses of the G20 were invited to come to Canada to discuss global food security. The first Speakers’ Consultation was held in the Senate Chamber, with productive discussions. The Republic of Korea took on the task of hosting the second Speakers’ Consultation in May 2011. There was general agreement that it is a useful forum, one which we were pleased to initiate in Canada. It also helps to strengthen relations between the parliaments of the G20 member states.

This annual report of the Senate presents an overview of the Senate’s activities in fiscal year 2010–11, providing insight into the operations and functions of the upper chamber and its members as they work in the public interest of all Canadians.

Speaker Kinsella Signature