FAQ | What happens in the Senate Chamber?

28 February 2008

Senate rules allow it to sit from Monday to Friday, and meet as often as necessary to take care of business. The full Senate usually sits on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Mondays and Fridays are office and travel days, except in the busier periods. Travel days allow senators to live in their home provinces among the people they represent.

In the Senate chamber, time is devoted each day to matters such as presenting petitions, tabling documents, discussing committee reports and passing laws. There is also a Question Period when senators ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate about Government actions and policies.

Debates in the Senate, where members need not run for their seats, differ from those in other legislatures in important ways. They are sometimes less partisan, and focus more closely on the issues. But when the matter at hand is contentious, debates in the Senate often match the heat of Commons’ debates.

The Senate chamber is a place where national issues, regional concerns and protests can receive quick attention. With two days’ notice, senators can launch debates on subjects important to the public. If there is enough support, senators can establish a committee to explore the matter further in meetings that can enjoy high visibility.