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Leader of the Government in the Senate

The Senate was created under the Constitution Act, 1867, primarily to protect regional interests but also to provide what George-Etienne Cartier called a "power of resistance to oppose the democratic element."



The Leader of the Government in the Senate is responsible for the government's program in the Senate by:
  • planning and managing the government's legislative program in the Senate;
  • maintaining relations with the Opposition on all matters concerning Senate activities; and
  • working with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to ensure the effective coordination of the government’s legislative program.

The Honourable Peter Harder

Peter Harder entered the Upper Chamber in April 2016, as the first Independent Senator appointed under a new non-partisan selection process that invites all eligible Canadians to submit applications. He arrived in the Senate with nearly 30 years of experience in the federal public service, and a decade serving as a volunteer in various organizations and as a member of several boards of directors. He also served as president of the Canada China Business Council.

The Honourable Peter Harder
The Honourable Peter Harder
As Government Representative in the Senate, he is tasked with both shepherding government legislation through the Upper Chamber and leading efforts on reform towards a more independent, accountable and transparent institution.

Senator Harder was born in Winnipeg but grew up in Vineland, Ont., in the Niagara Region. His parents, refugees from the former USSR, owned a local grocery store where he worked as a teen. He studied political science at the University of Waterloo before moving to Ottawa to work as a Parliamentary intern. After completing graduate studies at Queen’s University, he joined the foreign service in 1977, and soon after served as an assistant to then-minister Flora MacDonald. He then served as chief of staff to the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, then leader of the opposition and, subsequently, the deputy prime minister in the first government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Senator Harder served as the founding executive director of the Immigration and Refugee Board. He was first appointed as deputy minister in 1991 – a role he eventually would play under five different prime ministers and 12 ministers, including in the departments of immigration, public safety, industry, the treasury board and foreign affairs. As a former senior official who frequently appeared before Senate committees, he has often noted the quality of the questions posed by Senators, and their deep commitment towards conducting in-depth examinations of proposed legislation. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, classical music and working out.

Senator Harder lives in Ottawa with his wife. His son serves as a diplomat at Canada’s embassy in Beijing.

See also
Former Leaders of the Government in the Senate
Speaker of the Senate
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

External Links
Parliament of Canada Official Website

Copyright Craig I.W. Marlatt