The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Leader du gouvernement au Sénat) is a Canadian cabinet minister who leads the government side in the Canadian Senate and is chiefly responsible for promoting and defending the government's program in the Upper House. The government leader's counterpart on the Opposition benches is the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. The Leader of the Government in the Senate is selected by the Prime Minister.
Early Canadian cabinets included several senators who would be answerable to the Senate for government actions. In the nineteenth century, it was not considered unusual for a senator to be Prime Minister. Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott and Sir Mackenzie Bowell served as prime minister from the Senate. Abbott and Bowell both found it difficult to lead the government from the Senate, however, and over time, the perceived legitimacy of the Senate declined. As time progressed, it became less common for senators to occupy prominent positions in Cabinet. From 1935 on, it was typical for a Cabinet to have only one senator who would have the position of minister without portfolio and act as Government Leader in the Senate.
In 1969, the position of Leader of the Government in the Senate became an official cabinet position with the appointment of Paul Martin, Sr. (father of Canada's 21st prime minister, Paul Martin). Occasionally, senators still hold senior cabinet positions in order to ensure regional balance in Cabinet if the governing party is unable to elect members in a particular region or province, e.g., when the Progressive Conservative Party formed the government under the leadership of Joe Clark in 1979, and when the Liberal Party formed the government under the leadership of Pierre Trudeau in 1980. However, it is usually the case that the Leader of the Government in the Senate is the sole senator serving in Cabinet.
The responsibilities of the Leader of the Government in the Senate include:
The government side in the Senate is the party that forms the government in the Canadian House of Commons. This means that the government party in the Senate may have fewer seats than the Opposition, particularly when a general election results in a new party forming government.
The current Leader of the Government in the Senate is Marjory LeBreton
|Government Leader||Prime Minister||Party||Term||1.||Paul Joseph James Martin||Pierre Trudeau||Liberal||April 1, 1969 - August 7, 1974||2.||Raymond Joseph Perrault||Pierre Trudeau||Liberal||August 8, 1974 - June 3, 1979||3.||Jacques Flynn||Joe Clark||Progressive Conservative||June 4, 1979 - March 2, 1980||4.||Raymond Joseph Perrault||Pierre Trudeau||Liberal||March 3, 1980 - September 29, 1982||5.||Bud Olson||Pierre Trudeau||Liberal||September 30, 1982 - June 29, 1984||6.||Allan MacEachen||John Turner||Liberal||June 30, 1984 - September 16, 1984||7.||Duff Roblin||Brian Mulroney||Progressive Conservative||September 17, 1984 - June 29, 1986||8.||Lowell Murray||Brian Mulroney||Progressive Conservative||June 30, 1986 - June 24, 1993||*||Lowell Murray (cont'd.)||Kim Campbell||Progressive Conservative||June 24, 1993 - November 3, 1993||9.||Joyce Fairbairn||Jean Chrétien||Liberal||November 4, 1993 - June 10, 1997||10.||Alasdair Bernard Graham||Jean Chrétien||Liberal||June 11, 1997 - October 3, 1999||11.||J. Bernard Boudreau||Jean Chrétien||Liberal||October 4, 1999 - January 8, 2001||12.||Sharon Carstairs||Jean Chrétien||Liberal||January 9, 2001 - December 11, 2003||13.||Jack Austin||Paul Martin||Liberal||December 12, 2003 - February 6 2006||14.||Marjory LeBreton||Stephen Harper||Conservative||February 6 2006 - Present|
2 Prime Minister of Canada from December 21, 1894 to April 27, 1896.
3 Had no concurrent portfolio in Cabinet.
4 Minister without portfolio and de facto government leader in the Senate until April 1, 1969 when Leader of the Government in the Senate became an official ministerial office.