A Senate Committee is a group of up to 15 senators whose primary task is to study bills that have been referred to it by the Senate. The goal is to determine how these bills, or draft laws, will affect the lives of Canadians and whether they are constitutional. Sometimes a committee will recommend amendments to improve a bill.
Senate Committees study bills in detail and are often assisted by expert witnesses who are called to testify and give evidence on matters related to the proposed laws. In addition to studying bills, a Senate Committee may also be asked by the Senate as a whole to investigate a particular issue, even when no bill is under consideration. These are known as special studies.
Senate Committees hold most of their meetings in public and invite Canadians to participate in the consultative process. They hear regularly from concerned citizens, as well as public and special interest groups. As a result, the work these committees do is highly relevant and speaks directly to and about the major concerns of Canadians. Most Senators feel that we do our most meaningful work in Committees.
In addition to Senate Committees and Committees of the House of Commons, there are also joint committees made up of both Senators and Members of the House of Commons. This year, in addition to being a member of the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, the Standing Committee on Transportation and Communications, and the Standing Committee on Human Rights, I am also a member of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament.
Over the years, I have been a member of several Standing Senate Committees, including the Committee on Transportation and Communications, the Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, the Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, the Committee on Human Rights, the Committee on National Finance and the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. I was also a member of the Senate Selection Committee.
Regretfully, the work we do in Senate Committees is often not well known or understood by Canadians, yet it is a crucial component of parliamentary democracy. In Canada, Senate Committees, as a body of sober, second thought, ensure that every piece of legislation is examined closely to make certain that government objectives are met, international obligations kept, and Canadians served.
I invite you to explore the material posted on this site and to contact me if you have any questions about my current work as Vice-Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Transportation and Communications.
The Senate permanent or standing committees each have their own areas of study. Currently, there are seventeen Senate Committees:
Agriculture and Forestry
Banking, Trade and Commerce
Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources
Fisheries and Oceans
Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
Legal and Constitutional Affairs
National Security and Defence
Subcommittee Veterans Affairs
Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament
Social Affairs, Science and Technology
Transport and Communications