On September 13, 2013, on the advice of the Prime Minister, the Governor General issued a proclamation proroguing the 1st Session of the 41st Parliament, and all items on the Senate's Order Paper and Notice Paper died.
The 2nd Session of the 41st Parliament began with the Speech from the Throne on October 16, 2013. Entitled Seizing Canada's Moment: Prosperity and Opportunity in an Uncertain World, the speech included the broad themes of creating jobs and opportunities for Canadians, supporting and protecting Canadian families and putting Canada first. It was one of the longer speeches in recent times, with more than 7,000 words. The opening of the session in the Chamber was a modified bench opening, where the Senators' desks are removed and benches placed to allow for more guests to sit in the Chamber.
In the first two weeks of the session, the Senate dealt with the potential suspension without pay of three Senators for the duration of the session. Originally, the suspensions were debated as three separate motions, one for each of the Senators. Later, the government introduced one motion for suspension, still without pay, but allowing them to keep their health and insurance benefits. Given the significance of the issue, the Senate held long sittings with many hours of debate and considered a number of amendments. In the end, the Government invoked time allocation to bring the matter of the three suspensions to a decision. Although the suspension had become one motion, Senators were allowed to vote separately on each suspension.
On November 5, 2013, the motion to suspend the three Senators was adopted with some variance in the breakdown of standing votes, but not before the Speaker made a statement to explain why he had exercised his authority to allow the Senate to vote on each suspension separately. This statement will be addressed in more details below.
On October 24, 2013, the Speaker delivered a ruling on a point of order raised earlier in the week about the initial motions for separate suspensions of the Senators. It had been argued that the motions were arbitrary, and a violation of basic rights guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, and that one of the reports of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration was not properly before the Senate because it had died on the Order Paper with the prorogation of the previous session. The Speaker found that proceedings were in keeping with...