Canada

Senate

Political system
Parliamentary system
Structure of parliament
Bicameral
IPU membership
Yes

Oversight

Oversight tools

Parliament/Chamber has the power to summon members of the government
Yes
Parliament/chamber has the power to summon senior government officials
Yes
Parliament has the power to approve key government appointments
Yes

Sources:

The Senate approves the following appointments alongside the House of Commons:

• Auditor General of Canada

• Commissioner of Official Languages

• Information Commissioner of Canada

• Privacy Commissioner of Canada

• Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada

• Public Sector Integrity Commissioner of Canada

• Parliamentary Budget Officer

Approximate number of government appointments subject to parliamentary approval
7
Parliament/chamber has the power to approve key government appointments
Yes
Number of written questions asked, per year
72
(2022)
Number of written questions answered by the government, per year
25
(2021)

Notes: Please note, a single written question can occasionally elicit revised and supplementary answers from the government of Canada. Written questions can also include multiple sub-questions soliciting responses from multiple government departments. Total number of written questions answered by the government per year does not take into account any additional revised or supplementary answers.

Percentage of written questions answered by the government, per year
Click for historical data
Parliament/chamber has power to carry out inquiries
Yes

Sources: Constitution Act 1867, Preamble and s. 18; Rules of the Senate of Canada, Rule 5-1.

Number of parliamentary inquiries, per year
2
(2022)

Notes:

Totals represent the number of special committees created in the House of Commons and Senate by calendar year. In addition, the number of substantive reports of committees tabled by the House of Commons and Senate combined include:

2013: 65

2014: 63

2015: 75

2016: 85

2017: 130

Head of State and/or Government

Parliament’s role in the designation of the Head of Government
Other

Notes: By convention, it is the Governor General’s (as the representative of the Head of State) duty to select the Prime Minister (Head of Government). The individual selected must be able to form a government and seek the confidence of the House of Commons. By convention, the leader of the political party that has won the most seats in the House of Commons is asked by the Governor General to be Prime Minister.

Sources: The selection of the Head of Government by the Sovereign is an unwritten convention.

The Head of Government is also the Head of State
No
Parliament’s role in the designation of the Head of State
Parliament does not play a role

Notes: The Sovereign, His Majesty Charles III, King of Canada, is the Head of State. The Governor General represents the King in Canada and carries out the duties of Head of State. By convention, the monarch appoints the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Sources: Constitution Act 1867, 30 & 31 Victoria, c. 3 (U.K.), s. 9-10.

Impeachment and confidence motions

Parliament is automatically dissolved when a motion of no confidence is adopted
No
Chambers that can be dissolved when a motion of no confidence is adopted
Lower chamber

Notes: The Senate of Canada is an appointed body. Senators remain in office when parliament is dissolved.

Impeachment procedure

There is a procedure for parliament to dismiss or impeach the following persons/institution
The whole Government
Chambers that play a role in the dismissal or impeachment
Lower chamber

Sources: Unwritten convention. Officially, the Governor General has the authority to dismiss the government, however this only occurs when the government loses the confidence of the House of Commons.

No confidence processes

There is a procedure for parliament to express no confidence in the following persons/institution
The whole Government
Chambers that play a role in motions of no confidence
Lower chamber

Sources:

Unwritten convention. The confidence convention is not written into any statute or Standing Order of the House.

The Prime Minister and his/her Cabinet must maintain the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Commons to remain in office. Known as the ‘confidence convention,’ this “provides that if the government is defeated in the House on a question of confidence, then it is expected to resign or seek the dissolution of Parliament in order for a general election to be held.”

Historical data for IPU membership

Historical data for IPU membership
Year IPU membership
2020-09
List of values for 2020-09
No
2019-04
List of values for 2019-04
No
2018-06
List of values for 2018-06
No