After long and sometimes impassioned debate, Canada's fathers of confederation deliberately chose a specific function for the Senate. Sir John A. Macdonald (our first Prime Minister) summarized the consensus view by saying:
The Senate must be an independent House, having a free
action of its own, for it is only valuable as being a regulating
body, calmly considering the legislation initiated by the
popular branch, and preventing any hasty or ill considered
The Senate serves the same function today. It is a place where legislative initiatives can be debated and studied in a considered way. Senators deliberate on bills and motions based on their extensive professional experience (there are professors, former cabinet ministers and premiers, lawyers, retired military officers and policy experts sitting in the Senate), parliamentary experience (Senators serve an average of nine years), regional considerations and with a view to protecting minorities. The Senate serves as a place for a second look, where legislation can be amended or defeated if it violates the interests of regions or minorities. As Sir Richard Cartwright, former Senator and cabinet minister stated in one historic debate:
The value of a Senate is not only in what the Senate does,
but in what the Senate prevents other people from doing.