Better know a Canadian functionary: the Clerk of the Senate and Clerk of the Parliaments

The Clerk of the Senate has a job much like that of the Clerk of the House: he’s head of administration and an expert on procedure. But the Clerk of the Senate receives a second, more important title: that of the Clerk of the Parliaments. The Clerk of the Parliaments is the custodian of all acts of Parliament and is responsible for the final, definitive wording of every act to receive Royal Assent.

The Clerks of the Senate and Parliaments of Canada have been:

John Fennings Taylor, the Elder, 1867-71. Taylor had been holding various offices in Upper Canada since 1822, culminating with an appointment as Clerk of Canada East in 1865. His nephew, John Fennings Taylor the Younger, wrote several books and served under Taylor the Elder and LeMoine as assistant clerk.

Robert LeMoine, 1871-83. LeMoine had been an assistant clerk under Taylor the Elder.

Edouard-Joseph Langevin, 1883-1900. Langevin was the brother of Sir Hector-Louis Langevin, one of the Fathers of Confederation.

Samuel-Edmour St.-Onge Chapleau, 1900-17. Chapleau went to America during the US Civil War and earned the rank of Major, fighting under Gen. Sherman at the Battle of Jonesboro. He later filed a number of patents, including ones for a self-locking lock in 1894 and a refrigerator in 1903.

Austen Ernest Blount, CMG, 1917-38. Blount served as private secretary to Sir Charles Tupper from 1896 to 1901 and to Sir Robert Borden from 1901 to 1917.

Leslie Clare Moyer, DSO, 1938-55. Moyer was private secretary to W.L. Mackenzie King from 1922 to 1927.

John Forbes MacNeill, 1955-68. MacNeill had previously been law clerk and parliamentary counsel to the Senate.

Robert Fortier, 1968-81. Fortier served as secretary to the Department of Public Works and as private secretary to the chair of the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

Charles A. Lussier, 1981-89. Lussier had also been Delegate-General of Quebec in Paris, Public Service Commissioner and Director of the Canada Council for the Arts.

Gordon L. Barnhart, 1989-94. Barnhart was made Clerk of the Legislature of Saskatchewan at the age of 23. He later served as Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan from 2006 to 2012.

Paul C. Bélisle, 1994-2009. Bélisle spent his entire professional career with the Senate, beginning as a page while in college.

Gary William O’Brien, 2009-2015. O’Brien was Deputy Clerk from 1999 to 2006.

Charles Robert (acting), 2015-now.


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