Majority of Canadians Expect to Eventually Vote for Senators

One third would prefer to reform the Senate to allow for elections, while fewer favour abolishment or keeping the status quo.

Vancouver, BC [December 23, 2022] – While Canadians do not reach consensus about the best way to proceed with the upper house, more than half think voters will one day be able to choose the members of the Red Chamber, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 56% of Canadians (+2 since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in February 2020) expect to one day be able to directly elect their senators, while 28% (-1) disagree and 17% (=) are not sure.

“Expectations of an elected Senate of Canada are highest in Alberta (64%), British Columbia (60%) and Ontario (59%),” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “Residents of Atlantic Canada (52%), Quebec (49%) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (49%) are more skeptical.”

One-in-four Canadians (24%, -3) think Canada does not need a Senate and want all legislation to be reviewed and authorized by the House of Commons—a proportion that reaches 35% among those aged 55 and over.

Just under one-in-ten Canadians (9%, =) believe Canada needs a Senate and the current guidelines that call for appointed senators should not be modified.

Fewer than half of Canadians (45%, =) think Canada needs a Senate, but Canadians should be allowed to take part in the process to choose senators.

When asked to consider specific options for the Red Chamber, only 6% of Canadians support allowing the Prime Minister to appoint senators, while 17% favour having a selection committee that would appoint non-partisan senators.

One third of Canadians (33%) would reform the Senate to allow Canadians to directly elect the members of the upper house, while 14% would abolish the Red Chamber altogether.

Canadians who voted for the Conservative Party in the last federal election are significantly more likely to support Senate reform (50%) than those who cast ballots for the New Democratic Party (NDP) (38%) and the Liberal Party (28%) in 2021.

Since 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has only named senators that were recommended by an arm’s-length advisory body and not directly appointed by him.

Fewer than three-in-ten Canadians (28%, -9) think the changes implemented by Trudeau have made the Senate of Canada better than it was before he took office, while 31% (-1) see no change and 20% (+4) believe the situation is now worse.

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted on December 10 to December 12, 2022, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.1 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.

778.929.0490 [e]