Belzile, Marie-Eve, Canadian Parliamentary Review
The Senate began its fall session J. one day earlier than planned: the Speaker reconvened the Upper Chamber on September 27 at 6:00 p.m. rather than on September 28 at 2:00 p.m., as had been proposed in July. The first few weeks of the session focused on the swearing in of the new Governor General.
During its first week back in session, the Senate hosted a special ceremonial event. The Right Honourable David Johnston, the 28th Governor General of Canada since Confederation, was sworn in on October 1 in the Senate Chamber before his family, the Prime Minister of Canada, members of Cabinet, many dignitaries, Senators and Members of Parliament.
Since Canada is both a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy, the Governor General is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Governor General's parliamentary duties include convening Parliament after each general election, opening a session of Parliament by delivering the Speech from the Throne and granting Royal Assent to bills passed by the Senate and the House of Commons. Each of these activities takes place as part of a ceremony for which Parliament (the Governor General, the Senate and the House of Commons) meets in the Senate Chamber. The swearing-in ceremony for a new Governor General also takes place in the Chamber. The only time Parliament does not meet in the Senate Chamber for these duties is when Royal Assent is granted by written declaration.
The majority of the Government bills introduced in the Senate during the fall session are currently either at second reading or the committee stage. Bill S-12, A third Act to harmonize federal law with the civil law of Quebec and to amend certain Acts in order to ensure that each language version takes into account the common law and the civil law, was read for the first time on October 20. Bill C-14, An Act to amend the Electricity and Gas Inspection Act and the Weights and Measures Act, and Bill S-13, An Act to implement the Framework Agreement on Integrated Cross- Border Maritime Law Enforcement Operations between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America, were introduced in the Senate on October 26.
Bill C-40, An Act to establish National Seniors Day, which was read for the first time in the Senate on June 17, 2010, was sponsored by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Marjory LeBreton. As Bill C-40 was not controversial and was in line with the commitments made in the 2010 Throne Speech, it moved quickly through the Senate. The bill passed third reading on October 26 without debate, becoming the first bill of the season waiting for Royal Assent.
A large part of the work accomplished by the Senate takes place in committee. The reports prepared in committee, whether special studies or legislative reports, complement the legislative duties of parliamentarians. In September and October 2010, the various Senate committees reviewed over a dozen bills, in addition to the orders of reference passed by the Senate for special studies on social, legal and economic issues.
On September 28, the Senate adopted the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, an interim report entitled Where We Go from Here: Canada's Mission in Afghanistan. On October 28, the Senate adopted, on motion of Senator Dennis Dawson, the fourth report of the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications, entitled Plan for a Digital Canada. …