Parliament, Opening of

The opening of Parliament may refer either to the beginning of the first session of PARLIAMENT after a general election or to the beginning of a subsequent session. All the proceedings take place in the Senate chamber and involve all 3 elements of Parliament - the CROWN, the SENATE and the HOUSE OF COMMONS. If there has been an election, on the first day of the session the Commons are summoned to the Senate, only to be told that the SPEECH FROM THE THRONE will not be read until they have selected one of their members as their spokesperson. The Commons then return to their own chamber and elect a Speaker. Later that day or on the next, the Commons, again pursuant to a summons delivered by the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, but now headed by their Speaker and the Sergeant at Arms bearing the mace, go up again to the Senate chamber. There the Speaker, standing at the bar of the Senate, presents himself or herself to the Queen's representative and requests that the traditional rights of the Commons be confirmed.

When this has been done the Queen's representative (almost always the GOVERNOR GENERAL), reads the Speech from the Throne to the 2 Houses. The Senators are seated in their places; the Commons stand crowded behind their Speaker beyond the bar at the south end of the chamber. The prime minister is seated to the right of the throne. When the speech has been concluded the Commons are dismissed, and the Speaker leads them back to their own chamber. Once the governor general has departed the 2 Houses normally adjourn. On the next day both Houses begin working on the business of the session. If the session is not the first of a new Parliament, the Speech from the Throne can be delivered at once because a Speaker already has been chosen.