The Senate is comprised of 105 senators who are summoned by the Governor General in the Queen's name on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, for the purpose of "giving advice and assistance in all weighty and arduous affairs concerning Canada" [Constitution Act, 1867, section 24; Letters Patent] Senators carry out their duties and responsibilities in a variety of ways, including but not limited to the following parliamentary functions: a legislative role; an investigative role; a role representing regions; a role protecting minorities; a parliamentary diplomatic role; and a public advocacy role.
The Senate is in transition from an institution governed by two political caucuses operating on a hierarchical basis to an institution governed by at least three groups, one of which is the Independent Senators Group (ISG) whose members do not affiliate with any political party. Members of the ISG are autonomous and take policy positions as they see fit, but have joined together for purposes of logistics and ensuring that their legislative and investigative roles are conducted efficiently and effectively in the Senate.
Members of the ISG have agreed that the following principles of conduct shall apply in their dealings with one another and in the Senate:
Members of the ISG accept their duty to declare any private interests relating to their parliamentary functions and to take steps to resolve any conflicts in accordance with the Ethics Code
Public resources are provided to support all senators equally in the exercise of their parliamentary functions. Equal opportunities are offered on merit and without discrimination
All senators are dealt with impartially and justly without favouritism or discrimination
Memberships in committees and parliamentary associations are assigned so that representation is roughly proportional to the number of senators in the ISG and political caucuses
Reasons are given for decisions and actions, and information is restricted only when the wider public interest clearly demands it.
Although members of the ISG enjoy individual autonomy when they exercise their parliamentary functions, responsibility for ensuring that the Senate functions smoothly is shared and is understood to be a collective responsibility
Activities tied to the core work of the ISG are designed and undertaken by any and all members of the ISG. A leader is anyone who engages in these activities based on tasks, not position.