The 2nd Session of the 41st Parliament began with the Speech from the Throne on October 16, 2013. Entitled Seizing Canada's Moment: Prosperity and Opportunity in an Uncertain World, the speech included the broad themes of creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians, supporting and protecting Canadian families and putting Canada first. It was one of the longer speeches in recent times, with more than 7,000 words. The opening of the session in the Chamber was a modified bench opening, where the Senators' desks are removed and benches placed to allow for more guests to sit in the Chamber.
In the first two weeks of the session, the Senate dealt with the potential suspension without pay of three Senators for the duration of the session. Originally, the suspensions were debated as three separate motions, one for each of the Senators. Later, the government introduced one motion for suspension, still without pay, but allowing them to keep their health and insurance benefits. Given the significance of the issue, the Senate held long sittings with many hours of debate and considered a number of amendments. In the end, the Government invoked time allocation to bring the matter of the three suspensions to a decision. Although the suspension had become one motion, Senators were allowed to vote separately on each suspension.
On November 5, 2013, the motion to suspend the three Senators was adopted with some variance in the breakdown of standing votes, but not before the Speaker made a statement to explain why he had exercised his authority to allow the Senate to vote on each suspension separately. This statement will be addressed in more details below.
On October 24, 2013, the Speaker delivered a ruling on a point of order raised earlier in the week about the initial motions for separate suspensions of the Senators. It had been argued that the motions were arbitrary, and a violation of basic rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, and that one of the reports of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration was not properly before the Senate because it had died on the Order Paper with the prorogation of the previous session. The Speaker found that proceedings were in keeping with the Senate's authority, rules and practices, and that debate could proceed.
The following week, a point of order was raised with respect to the propriety of a government disposition motion being used to limit debate on the original three motions to suspend the Senators, which were moved as non-government business. The Speaker agreed with the point of order and stated that the disposition motion that was before the Senate appeared to cross the boundaries between these two basic categories of business. He ruled the Government disposition motion out of order.
As mentioned previously, just before the Senate proceeded to the final vote on the suspension of the three Senators, the Speaker delivered a statement to explain that he would allow separate votes on each senator's suspension. He stated that it was appropriate, under rule 1-1(2), to look to the procedures in the Canadian House of Commons which had more experience dividing complex questions.
Before prorogation, the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration presented its 27m report, dealing with the expenses of Senator Pamela Wallin. The report was deposited with the Clerk of the Senate under an order adopted before the summer recess. Though the report died on the Order Paper with prorogation, the report informed the debate on the motions for the Senator's suspension.
In the days following the Speech from the Throne, the Committee of Selection was appointed to name senators to serve on the several committees during the present session, except the Standing Committee on Conflict of Interest for Senators. By the end of October, committees had not yet organized due to the busy schedule of the Chamber sittings.
There were some changes in the Leadership of the Senate on both the government and opposition sides. At the end of August Senator Claude Carignan became Leader of the Government in the Senate. Since 2011, he had served as the Deputy Leader of the Government and was replaced in that role by Senator Yonah Martin on September 18. Unlike his predecessors since the early 1960% Senator Carignan is not a member of the Cabinet though he was sworn in to the Queen's Privy Council on September 3, 2013. On the Opposition side, Senator Claudette Tardif stepped down from her role as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, a function she had performed since 2007, and was replaced by Senator Joan Fraser, who was previously the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in 2006-2007.
There were two resignations from the Senate over the summer. Senator Rod Zimmer and Senator Mac Harb gave up their seats in the Senate in August of 2013. Senator Zimmer was appointed to the Senate in 2005 by Paul Martin and Senator Harb had served in the Senate since 2001 after being appointed by Jean Chr6tien.
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|Title Annotation:||Legislative Reports|
|Publication:||Canadian Parliamentary Review|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2013|
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