Our Shared Vision
The Progressive Senate Group (The Progressives) is comprised of senators committed to the following:
Progressive Values – We are a group of individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences who share a common set of progressive views and a philosophy grounded in the values of liberty and equality. We share the view that all persons possess certain fundamental rights as individuals, but as members of society we also share a responsibility to advance the public good, including advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, so that each and every Canadian has an opportunity to lead a full and productive life. We also believe that government has a positive role to play in advancing the public interest.
Free Votes – The Progressives will not “whip” votes. Every vote, whether on a private member’s bill or a government bill, will be a free vote for each member of our group. Discussions are meant to inform and to expand our perspectives, but senators will not be pressured or expected to vote in any particular way. As such, the leadership role of the Liaison is to perform administrative functions to keep members well informed and not to “whip” votes.
Independence – We share an understanding of the Senate’s role as a foundational political institution that is independent of both the House of Commons and the Government. We believe that independence is about choice, particularly the freedom to choose to work collaboratively with other like-minded senators in furtherance of common goals. Members are not precluded from engaging in other political activities outside the Senate, including being members of political parties of their choice.
Working Together – While individual senators are free to work as they see fit, our members recognize the value of working together towards a shared goal. Each is free to champion policies and initiatives, while working together to fulfill their legislative responsibilities. Our members may hold strong convictions or even differing opinions on issues, but we benefit from dialogue and each other’s insight, thereby improving the quality of work in the Senate. Our members will work together in the Senate to advance progressive views and will walk together with Indigenous peoples in advancing reconciliation. We acknowledge the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin peoples where the Senate of Canada is located, and are inspired by the Algonquin word, “Mamidosewin,” which means meeting place and walking together. Mamidosewin will guide how our members work.
Experience, Structure & Discipline – Each senator brings individual experience, knowledge and accumulated expertise to matters before the Senate. Our members understand the value of organizational discipline, Parliamentary experience, structured caucusing, collaborative staff support, and the importance of cooperating and negotiating with the other parties and groups in the Senate.
Our Guiding Principle – Our group is committed to the principle of ‘sober second thought’ while undertaking legislative review and when considering changes to the Senate’s own rules and procedures. In assessing legislation and the Senate’s procedures, our senators will give primary consideration to Charter of Rights and Freedoms implications, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, equality of the two Official Languages, and the Senate’s central tenets of regional representation and minority rights.
Did you know? In addition to representing different regions of the country, the Senate shows greater gender and ethnic diversity in its composition than the House of Commons.
Our role in the Senate
Each Senator brings to Parliament a wealth of professional and personal experience which contributes to this Chamber’s legislative role and offers regional representation to Canadians.
Before being appointed, many senators worked as lawyers, doctors, farmers, business people, teachers, journalists, and sometimes – but not always – politicians. Each of us takes part in Chamber activities such as debates and question period, caucus and committee meetings and many other functions.
As the “Chamber of Sober Second Thought” we examine all legislation coming from the House of Commons and we also introduce bills ourselves. This work takes place in committee and in the Chamber and often includes rigorous analysis and vigorous debate. Each Senator sits on two or three committees where we study different issues ranging from the economy, health, children, housing, transportation, human rights, agriculture, to name a few. During these meetings, we hear from experts from across the country who appear as witnesses. Library of Parliament researchers provide us with information and documentation. We ask questions and engage in discussion with witnesses and then produce reports with specific recommendations that we submit to government.
We are also active as advocates for various causes and groups that we want to help. For example, senators have been instrumental in bringing to the attention of Canadians the plight of people with mental health problems, the need for post-secondary education, literacy and child care programs, and growing poverty in cities and rural areas.
When Parliament is adjourned, we travel to the regions we represent. This allows us to hear about local issues and gives us the opportunity to air these concerns on the national stage.
By virtue of our appointment, we are able to focus on long-range issues that may not receive the same attention by politicians running for re-election. In this way, we provide a balance to Parliament that ensures that legislation and important concerns facing Canadians get the attention they deserve.