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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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Committees

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

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.

Article

House Leader

House Leader, nonofficial title of MP nominated by each party to serve as head strategist and tactician in the House of Commons. The government House leader, a Cabinet member with the honorific title of president of the Privy Council, negotiates among parties about the Commons timetable.

Article

Closure

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.

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.

Article

Parliament

According to the Constitution Act, 1867, the term Parliament refers to the Crown, the Senate and the House of Commons — the institutions that together create Canadian laws. When Parliament is referred to in some formal usages, all three institutions are included. In common usage, however, the legislative branch of government — the House of Commons and the Senate — is often equated with Parliament.

Article

Hansard

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.

Article

Library of Parliament

The Library of Parliament came into being when the legislative libraries of Upper and Lower Canada were amalgamated in 1841 and situated in Montréal. In 1849 only 200 of the 12,000 books were saved when an angry mob protesting the Rebellion Losses Bill set fire to the Parliament Buildings.

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.

collection

Citizenship

This page brings together resources on Canadian citizenship and civics. It is meant to provide readers with knowledge of how the Canadian political system came to be and how it works today. This collection is also designed to help those studying for Canada's citizenship test, or for those taking part in Historica Canada’s Citizenship Challenge program.

Editorial

Senate: Canada's Best Think Tank

As the Chrétien government prepared a new Speech from the Throne in which poverty would be a major theme, the Ministers, Members of Parliament and government planners working on the speech could have done worse than to turn to the famous 1971 Report of the Special Senate Committee on Poverty.

Editorial

Editorial: The Canadian Flag, Distinctively Our Own

On 15 February 1965, at hundreds of ceremonies across the country and around the world, the red and white Maple Leaf Flag was raised for the first time. In Ottawa, 10,000 people gathered on a chilly, snow-covered Parliament Hill. At precisely noon, the guns on nearby Nepean Point sounded as the sun broke through the clouds. An RCMP constable, 26-year-old Joseph Secours, hoisted the National Flag of Canada to the top of a specially-erected white staff. A sudden breeze snapped it to attention.

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House of Commons

The House of Commons is the centre of political power in Canada. The prime minister and his or her Cabinet receive their authority through the confidence of the House. It is an institution steeped in tradition and history. In recent years, Question Period has been televised, opening the political process to Canadians. Much of what the public sees is the rancorous debate and partisan bickering among political parties but the House of Commons is also where most government legislation is introduced, and where Members of Parliament meet to debate policy, vote on key legislation, and hold the government to account.

Macleans

House of Lords Reform

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on November 22, 1999. Partner content is not updated.

By the Queen's Robing Room inside the Palace of Westminster, there is a small, sedate chamber they call the Norman Porch. It is populated entirely with busts of past luminaries of the House of Lords, each of whom has served as British prime minister.

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.