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March 24, 2013 Parliament of Canada

Elected Senators in Canada




Historically, senators in Canada have been appointed by the Prime Minister and serve in the country’s upper chamber until they reach the age of seventy-five. The fact that senators do not have to be elected in order to be appointed has been the cause of much debate in Canada since 1874. Nevertheless, there exists a “loop-hole” that allows for the election of senators in Canada – the Prime Minister can choose to fill Senate vacancies by appointing candidates who have been previously elected in provincial Senate nominee elections.

In fact, in the entire history of the Senate, there have only been five senators elected and appointed by the Prime Minister in this manner. In 1990, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney appointed the first elected senator in Canada, Stan Waters of Alberta. Waters had previously won the Alberta Senate nominee election of 1989. Since becoming Prime Minister, Stephen Harper has appointed four elected senators.

It should be noted that, since appointments to the Senate is the jurisdiction of the federal government, Senate nominee elections in Canada are non-binding. As such, the Prime Minister of Canada does not necessarily have to fill vacancies in the Senate with elected nominees. Former Prime Minister Paul Martin, for example, did not appoint any elected nominees, choosing instead to fill Senate vacancies by traditional appointment.

Formerly sitting Elected Senators

Province Elected Appointed Prime Minister Name Party
Alberta 1989 1990 Mulroney Stanley Waters Reform
Alberta 1998, 2004 2007 Harper Bert Brown Progressive Conservative

Currently sitting Elected Senators

Province Elected Appointed Prime Minister Name Party
Alberta 2004 2012 Harper Betty Unger Progressive Conservative
Alberta 2012 2013 Harper Doug Black Progressive Conservative
Alberta 2012 2013 Harper Scott Tannas Progressive Conservative

Elected Senators-in-Waiting

Province Elected Order Name Party
Alberta 2012 3rd Mike Shaikh Progressive Conservative

Senate Nominee Elections in Canada

Alberta is currently the only province in Canada to elect Senate nominees. Four such elections have been held in the province in conjunction with general provincial elections. In 2008, the government of Saskatchewan announced plans to hold similar elections.

Province/Territory Senate Elections
Alberta 1989, 1998, 2004, 2012




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