The Senate Emblem

Photo of the Honourable Noël A. Kinsella
The Honourable
Noël A. Kinsella

Speaker of the Senate

Our Constitution states that “There shall be One Parliament for Canada, consisting of the Queen, an Upper House styled the Senate, and the House of Commons,” a clear reflection of our Westminster parliamentary heritage. The Senate is often described as the “chamber of sober second thought,” reflecting its role in reviewing and revising proposed legislation.

The Senate has a close association with the Crown and it is in the Senate Chamber that the thrones for Her Majesty and her consort are located. When the three constituent elements of Parliament come together in one place for the transaction of business, which includes the reading of the Speech from the Throne and the signification of Royal Assent to bills, it is always done in the Senate Chamber.

On these occasions, the Queen, or her representative the Governor General, takes the throne on the dais in the Senate Chamber and the Usher of the Black Rod is sent to summon the members of the House of Commons to the Senate Chamber.

This relationship between the Crown and the Senate is readily apparent to visitors to the Senate, as images of our monarchs abound in both its art and architecture. Even the history of Canada’s evolution under two crowns, first of France and then of Great Britain, is in evidence in the impressive stone carvings of their respective Royal Arms at the south end of the chamber.

During fiscal year 2011–12, Canada and the Commonwealth celebrated the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. The Senate added two images of Her Majesty to the fabric of its architecture to mark the occasion. In a ceremony attended by His Excellency, Governor General David Johnston, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a new image of Her Majesty carved in stone was unveiled, joining the carvings of all of Canada’s previous monarchs, each one set at the base of one of the arches in the Senate foyer. On February 7 of this year, the Senate held a ceremony to dedicate a new stained glass window installed over the Senate entrance to the Centre Block.

This stunningly beautiful window commemorates the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and also that of Queen Victoria. Canada has only had two queens to date and both have celebrated their diamond anniversaries, the only two monarchs in all of Great Britain’s history to do so. It is a glowing daily reminder to senators and visitors of our history as a parliamentary monarchy and of Her Majesty, who has reigned with such distinction and grace over Canada since 1952. We are inspired by her diligence and selfless dedication to service, and each of us would do well to emulate her example.

Speaker Kinsella's Signature