Independent Senators Group
Groupe des sénateurs indépendants
FacilitatorRaymonde Saint-Germain
Deputy facilitatorTony Dean
FoundedMarch 10, 2016
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The Independent Senators Group (ISG; French: Groupe des sénateurs indépendants) is a parliamentary group in the Senate of Canada. Established on March 10, 2016, the Independent Senators Group (ISG) is committed to a non-partisan Senate and the modernization of the Upper House of Canada's Parliament. The Independent Senators Group is the largest parliamentary group in the Senate. Composed of independents not affiliated with any political caucus, members of the group work cooperatively but act independently.[1]

The majority of Independent Senators Group members have been Canadians who have applied directly to the Senate through the Independent Advisory Board for Senate Appointments. The Advisory Board, when convened by the Prime Minister, reviews applications in provinces and territories where there are planned or current vacancies. Organizations and individuals are also encouraged to nominate high-quality individuals whom they consider to be potential candidates for appointment to the Senate and whom they feel meet the assessment criteria. Individuals who are nominated for a Senate appointment are still required to submit an online application.[2]


In January 2014, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau proposed the Senate should be made non-partisan, to better serve Canadians. He suggested an "open, transparent, non-partisan process" that would see all senators named to the Red Chamber sit as Independents.[3]

The Trudeau government began appointing independent senators, which in theory would make the Senate a non-partisan body. The growing number of these appointments created a challenge within the upper house as it had always been organized along partisan lines and there were no mechanisms in place to deal with a large number of independent senators, in terms of funding or appointments to committees, whereas the Conservative and Senate Liberal Caucuses were funded and guaranteed appointments.

As working group (2016–17)

On March 10, 2016, six non-affiliated senators, former Independent Progressive Conservative Senator Elaine McCoy, former Conservative caucus members Jacques Demers, John D. Wallace, Michel Rivard and Diane Bellemare and former Liberal Pierrette Ringuette formed an independent, non-partisan working group that would "ensure the rights of equality" for all senators, "regardless of their political or non-political affiliation" while working to restore "public confidence" in the upper house "as a necessary and vital institution".[4]

In order to press for the recognition of the equal rights and obligations of non-affiliated senators and facilitate their activities, the group, which had grown to fifteen senators adopted the name "Independent Senators Group". On September 27, 2016 the members of the ISG elected McCoy to act as the group's facilitator until the end of the parliamentary term in June 2017.[5] Unlike the two partisan caucuses, the ISG announced it would not have parliamentary whips and that its members would not vote together except on issues such as changes to Senate rules and logistics that would accommodate the existence and rights of independent senators.[6]

The Senate formally recognized the ISG on December 2, 2016, passing a motion to fund the Independent Senators Group for the next two fiscal years. It was also agreed to make appointments of non-affiliated senators to committees proportionate to their numbers. However, the ISG's assigned budget of C$722,000 for 2017–2018 was less than the C$1 million allotted to each of the partisan caucuses.[7][6]

Beginning in January 2017, the official Senate website distinguished affiliations between members of the Independent Senators Group and other non-affiliated senators by listing ISG members as "Non-affiliated (ISG)".[8] Several non-affiliated senators, including Speaker of the Senate of Canada George Furey and Representative of the Government in the Senate Peter Harder (along with two senators who share responsibilities with them) remain entirely non-affiliated and are not members of the ISG.

As parliamentary group (2017–present)

On May 17, 2017 senators voted to remove the requirement that a caucus must be formed by senators who are members of a political party, making the ISG equal under the rules of the senate with the two partisan caucuses.[9] Following that change, McCoy stated that the ISG's influence in Senate standing committees will be increased to ensure its representation is proportional to the other caucuses.[10]

A formal secret ballot election was announced in June 2017 to replace facilitator Elaine McCoy.[11] At the close of nominations on September 22, 2017, Yuen Pau Woo was the only candidate for facilitator with Raymonde Saint-Germain the only candidate for Deputy Facilitator. Larry Campbell had intended to run but decided to recuse himself.[12] Woo and Saint-Germain were elected unopposed on September 25, 2017.[13] In October 2017, the ISG replaced its previous informal approach to membership with a requirement that all new applicants for membership in the caucus be approved by at least 60 percent of current ISG members.[14]

On October 30, 2017, the ISG became the largest caucus in the Senate.[15] Following an agreement between the three Senate caucuses, a November 2, 2017 motion reallocating committee positions saw the ISG allotted both committee chair and committee member positions proportional to the size of their membership.[16]

On November 4, 2019, eight senators from the ISG joined with two Conservative senators and one non-affiliated senator to form a new non-partisan parliamentary group known as the Canadian Senators Group.[17] Speaking with CTV News' Don Martin, CSG interim leader Scott Tannas cited the concern that the ISG— then numbering 58 members— had become too large, and that a "wider range of views and approaches" was needed.[18] Included among those decamping to the CSG was former facilitator Elaine McCoy.[19]

On November 14, 2019, the government's legislative deputy representative Diane Bellemare left her position and joined the ISG.[20][21] On January 24, 2020, Senator Marc Gold left the Independent Senators Group, including his position as Caucus Liaison, to sit as a non-affiliated senator following his agreeing to become the new Representative of the Government in the Senate.[22]

After the establishment of the Progressive Senate Group in late 2019, several ISG members left to join that caucus throughout 2020 and 2021: Patricia Bovey,[23] Marty Klyne,[24] Brian Francis[25] and Margaret Dawn Anderson.[26]

On February 1, 2021, former senator Murray Sinclair was announced as the group's first Indigenous Advisor.[27]

On November 29, 2021, the ISG announced that Saint-Germain was elected by acclamation to be the next caucus facilitator. Tony Dean was announced as the new deputy facilitator. Under the ISG's charter, a facilitator can serve for a maximum of two two-year terms, meaning that incumbent facilitator Woo was term-limited. Woo congratulated Saint-Germain and pledged his full support. Saint-Germain and Dean's roles formally began on January 1, 2022.[28]


Name[29] Province (Division)
David Arnot Saskatchewan
Michèle Audette Quebec (De Salaberry)
Peter Boehm Ontario
Gwen Boniface Ontario
Yvonne Boyer Ontario
Bev Busson British Columbia
Daniel Christmas Nova Scotia
Bernadette Clement Ontario
René Cormier New Brunswick
Brent Cotter Saskatchewan
Mary Coyle Nova Scotia
Donna Dasko Ontario
Colin Deacon Nova Scotia
Marty Deacon Ontario
Tony Dean Ontario
Pat Duncan Yukon
Renée Dupuis Quebec (The Laurentides)
Éric Forest Quebec (Gulf)
Rosa Galvez Quebec (Bedford)
Nancy Hartling New Brunswick
Mobina Jaffer British Columbia
Stan Kutcher Nova Scotia
Frances Lankin Ontario
Tony Loffreda Quebec (Shawinegan)
Sarabjit Marwah Ontario
Paul Massicotte Quebec (De Lanaudière)
Marie-Françoise Mégie Quebec (Rougemont)
Julie Miville-Dechêne Quebec (Inkerman)
Lucie Moncion Ontario
Rosemary Moodie Ontario
Ratna Omidvar Ontario
Kim Pate Ontario
Chantal Petitclerc Quebec (Grandville)
Mohamed-Iqbal Ravalia Newfoundland and Labrador
Pierrette Ringuette New Brunswick
Raymonde Saint-Germain Quebec (De la Vallière)
Paula Simons Alberta
Karen Sorensen Alberta
Yuen Pau Woo British Columbia
Hassan Yussuff Ontario


Deputy Facilitator

Question of independence

A 2017 CBC News study found that independent senators appointed by Justin Trudeau voted with the government 94.5 percent of the time.[31]

The Globe and Mail reported in May 2019 that Trudeau used Liberalist, a Liberal Party database, in order to vet prospective Senate appointees.[32]

See also


  1. ^ isggsi (2019-04-03). "Independent senators seek compromise to partisan impasse". Retrieved 2021-02-01.
  2. ^ "Questions and Answers". 7 July 2016.
  3. ^ "Major Announcement: Ending partisanship and patronage in the Senate | Liberal Party of Canada". Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  4. ^ O'Malley, Kady (March 10, 2016). "@Kady — Just don't call it a caucus: Independent senators form 'non-partisan working group'". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  5. ^ "Patrick Brazeau returns to Senate after 3-year legal saga". CBC News. September 28, 2016. Retrieved July 8, 2017. Senator Elaine McCoy will serve as the group's facilitator until June 2017, while Frances Lankin, Elaine McCoy, Pierrette Ringuette and Don Meredith make up the 'chamber co-ordination' team.
  6. ^ a b Smith, Marie-Danielle (January 3, 2017). "How the Senate changed in 2016 – and what it means for the government's agenda for 2017". National Post. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  7. ^ Smith, Marie-Danielle (December 6, 2016). "'A victory for fairness': Senators agree to allow more independents on committees". National Post. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  8. ^ "Senators". Senate of Canada. 11 April 2016. Archived from the original on February 10, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  9. ^ Tasker, John Paul (May 17, 2017). "Senate changes definition of a 'caucus,' ending Liberal, Conservative duopoly". CBC News. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  10. ^ Rana, Abbas (June 5, 2017). "Change is going to come: Independent Senators Group wants 40 per cent of Senate committee chair, vice-chair positions by fall". The Hill Times. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  11. ^ Smith, Marie-Danielle (June 12, 2017). "Increasingly powerful group of Senate independents to hold formal election for their own leader". National Post. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  12. ^ Smith, Marie-Danielle (September 19, 2017). "Powerful group of senators to choose new leader next week, with only one contender". National Post. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  13. ^ Tasker, John Paul (September 25, 2017). "B.C.'s Yuen Pau Woo named leader of Independent senators, soon to be Senate's largest bloc". CBC News. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  14. ^ Evelyn, Charelle (October 11, 2017). "Independent Senators Group adopts 60 per cent approval threshold for new members". The Hill Times. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  15. ^ Aiello, Rachel (October 30, 2017). "Independent Senators Group now biggest contingent in the Senate". CTV News. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  16. ^ Naumetz, Tim (November 2, 2017). "Independent senators win equal shares of Senate committees". iPolitics. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  17. ^ Flanagan, Ryan (4 November 2019). "11 senators break away to form new Canadian Senators Group". CTV News. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  18. ^ Martin, Don (4 November 2019). "Tannas on Wexit and Western Alienation". Power Play with Don Martin. CTV News. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Senators List". Senate of Canada. August 25, 2019. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  20. ^ Bellemare, Senator Diane (14 November 2019). "The 43rd Parliament will begin soon and it's time for me to pass the torch. It has been a privilege to carry out the functions of Legislative Deputy in the GRO during this historic period of modernization. A special thank you to @SenHarder and @SenMitchell for their support". Twitter. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  21. ^ "Senators List". Senate of Canada. September 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2019.
  22. ^ "The Prime Minister announces new Government Representative in the Senate". Office of the Prime Minister of Canada. 24 January 2020. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  23. ^ Tasker, John Paul (8 May 2020). "Independent senator defects to the Progressives as senators spar over committee seats". CBC News. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  24. ^ "The Progressives Welcome New Member – The Progressives". The Progressives. 2020-09-02. Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  25. ^ News, Posted in; Photos (2020-09-14). "The Progressives Welcome New Member". The Progressives. Retrieved 2020-09-26. ((cite web)): |last1= has generic name (help)
  26. ^ News, senateliberals on 1 March 2021 in; Photos (2021-03-01). "The Progressives Welcome New Member". The Progressives. Retrieved 2021-03-03. ((cite web)): |last1= has generic name (help)
  27. ^ isggsi (2021-02-01). "Murray Sinclair Appointed Advisor of the Independent Senators Group". isgeng. Retrieved 2021-03-08.
  28. ^ Taylor-Vaisey, Nick (November 30, 2021). "An orderly shakeup in the Senate". POLITICO. Retrieved January 21, 2022.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. ^ "Meet the Senators". ISG Senators. ISG Senators. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  30. ^ a b "ISG Senators". Our Chamber Team: Independent Senators Group. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  31. ^ Curry, Bill (24 September 2018). "Independent Senators Group poised for majority with latest appointments". Maclean's. Retrieved 11 August 2019.
  32. ^ LeBlanc, Daniel (May 2, 2019). "PMO confirms use of partisan database Liberalist to vet prospective senators". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 30 January 2021.