Parliamentary Institutions | The Canadian Encyclopedia

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  • Article

    Allotment of Time

    Allotment of Time, rules of the House of Commons, Standing Orders 115, 116 and 117, often confused by the media with the closure rule, S.O. 57. Since 1968 most bills pass the committee stage in the standing committees and may be amended at the report stage, but S.O.

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  • Article

    Bourinot's Rules

    Parliamentary Procedure and Practice with an Introductory Account of the Origin and Growth of Parliamentary Institutions in the Dominion of Canada, by Sir John George Bourinot, Clerk of the Canadian House of Commons, was published in 1884, with 3 later editions in 1892, 1903 and 1916.

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  • Article


    In Canada’s parliamentary system of government, the cabinet is the committee of ministers that holds executive power. Cabinets are chaired by the prime minister (or in the provinces, by the premier). Ministers are typically elected politicians drawn from the party holding the most seats in the House of Commons (or the provincial legislature). Cabinets are traditionally strong, consensus-driven bodies; although some believe their influence is waning in the face of powerful prime ministers and their advisers.

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  • Article

    Cabinet (Plain-Language Summary)

    The Cabinet is a committee of ministers. It holds executive power in government. This means it has the power to execute, or carry out, the government’s plans. Cabinets are chaired by the prime minister. In the provinces, they are chaired by the premier. Ministers typically come from the party with the most seats. They oversee major departments, such as finance, health, natural resources, etc. Cabinets are usually strong and driven by agreement. But some believe they have grown weaker as the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has grown stronger. This article is a plain-language summary of Cabinet. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry: Cabinet.

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  • Article

    Canadian Senate Expenses Scandal

    The Canadian Senate Expenses Scandal (2012–16) involved investigations into the housing and travel allowances claimed by dozens of Conservative and Liberal senators. Conservative senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin were suspended during the investigations. Duffy, Brazeau and Liberal senator Mac Harb were also charged with fraud and breach of trust but were either acquitted or the charges dropped. A 2015 audit of senate expenses revealed that 30 senators had been improperly reimbursed for expenses. The scandal dominated public discourse and put pressure on the Senate to establish clearer rules for travel, residency and living expenses.

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  • Macleans

    Chrétien Shuffles Cabinet

    On the weekend before he planned to shuffle his cabinet, Jean Chrétien was tired but in a teasing mood.This article was originally published in Maclean's Magazine on February 5, 1996

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  • Macleans

    Chrétien's Cabinet Shuffle

    The word was out well in advance of last week's cabinet shuffle that the heavy lifters - Finance Minister Paul Martin and Health Minister Allan Rock - were keeping their old jobs.This article was originally published in Maclean's Magazine on August 16, 1999

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  • Macleans

    Chrétien's New Cabinet

    This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on June 23, 1997. Partner content is not updated. As usual, the makeup of the cabinet sent out unmistakable signals about the government's priorities and intentions. In addition to Chrétien, there are 22 other Ontarians and Quebecers in the group, reflecting Liberal strength in the centre of the country.

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  • Collection

    Citizenship Challenge

    A program of Historica Canada, the Citizenship Challenge invites Canadians to deepen their knowledge of Canada’s past and present in order to gain a fuller understanding of the country. In addition to a mock citizenship test based on Canada’s real citizenship exam, we offer educational tools and quizzes relating to Canadian history and civics, which can be used in classrooms or by the public. This page brings together these resources, as well as some supplementary...

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  • Article


    Closure is a procedural provision allowing the Government to curtail debate in the HOUSE OF COMMONS and bring on a vote. A remedy for FILIBUSTERING, it entails 2 different decisions by the House: the vote to apply closure, and then the vote (or votes) on the business being closed.

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  • Article

    Coalition Governments in Canada

    Coalition governments are created when different political parties co-operate by forming a temporary alliance large enough to enjoy the confidence of Parliament, allowing them to form a government. Members of all parties in the coalition are appointed to Cabinet. This sometimes happens when no single party has achieved a majority of seats in the House of Commons or provincial legislature. Federal coalitions normally appear during periods of crisis such as war or political breakdown. The strengthening of party affiliations and the development of the party system since Confederation has made coalitions more difficult to negotiate. Politicians have become wary of the long-term results of coalitions and are reluctant to introduce them.

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  • Article

    Commission of Government

    The Commission of Government in Newfoundland was established in response to an extraordinary set of circumstances.

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  • Article


    Parliament has many committees which perform functions that cannot be adequately accomplished in debate or question period.

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  • Article


    A filibuster is a parliamentary delaying tactic. It is typically employed by opposition parties to delay or prevent the passage of a bill they don’t like. A filibuster is brought about when legislators speak at great length in opposition to a bill; propose numerous, often trivial amendments; or raise many parliamentary points of privilege. All of this is designed to keep the bill from coming to a vote. The goal of a filibuster is to either change a bill or stop its passage.

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  • Article


    Hansard is the unofficial name of the record of parliamentary and legislative debates. The name comes from the Hansard family, which printed the British debates from 1812 to 1892.

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