Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Harper not planning to appoint more senators despite growing vacancies

Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrives at Xstrata Nickel's Raglan Mine in the northern Nunavik region of Quebec on Friday, August 23, 2013.


Stephen Harper says he has "no immediate plans" to make more appointments to the controversy-plagued Senate.

But he is suggesting he might do so if he needs to move Senate reform legislation through the Red Chamber, where Conservatives have privately said they are not sure they have sufficient votes to pass the bill.

The Red Chamber, which has been in an uproar over expense claims filed by several Harper appointees and others, currently has five vacancies, and three senators are due to retire over the next year.

Story continues below advertisement

This time in 2014, there could be eight vacancies.

Mr. Harper's Senate reform plans are on hold until he hears from the Supreme Court, which is considering what degree of independence Parliament possesses when it comes to making changes.

Mr. Harper has said his preference is to reform the Red Chamber, including allowing for appointments reflecting the choice of voters in the provinces – and setting term limits.

While the Conservatives have a majority in the Senate – enabling them to pass most government bills – Tory officials have said in weeks past that they are not certain whether they would right now have enough votes in the Red Chamber to pass reform legislation.

It's not certain all of Mr. Harper's Senate appointees would in fact vote for his plans to reform the chamber.

The Prime Minister said appointments are not on his to-do list right now.

"Obviously, we'll keep an eye on whether the legislation passed by the elected House is able to keep moving," he said. "As long as it is, I have no immediate plans to do so."

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Licensing Options
About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Steven Chase has covered federal politics in Ottawa for The Globe since mid-2001, arriving there a few months before 9/11. He previously worked in the paper's Vancouver and Calgary bureaus. Prior to that, he reported on Alberta politics for the Calgary Herald and the Calgary Sun, and on national issues for Alberta Report. More


The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨