Parliament of Canada

Last updated

Parliament of Canada

Parlement du Canada (French)
Currently dissolved
Most recent: 42nd Canadian Parliament
Badge of the Parliament of Canada.jpg
Type
Type
Houses Senate
House of Commons
History
Founded1 July 1867 (1867-07-01)
Preceded byInitially assumed some jurisdiction from:

Later added some jurisdiction from:

Leadership
Elizabeth II
since 6 February 1952
Julie Payette
since 2 October 2017
George Furey, Non-Affiliated
since 3 December 2015
Geoff Regan, (Liberal)
since 3 December 2015
Justin Trudeau, (Liberal)
since 4 November 2015
Structure
Seats443
338 Members of Parliament
105 Senators
Senate of Canada - Seating Plan (42nd Parliament).svg
Senate political groups
   ISG (50)
   Conservative (25)
   CSG (11)
   Liberal [note 1] (9)
  Vacant (5)
Canadian House of Commons 2019 standard.svg
House of Commons political groups
   Liberal [note 1] (157)
   Conservative (121)
   New Democratic (25)
   Green (3)
   Independent (1)
Elections
Appointment by the governor general on advice of the prime minister
First-past-the-post
House of Commons last election
21 October 2019
House of Commons next election
On or before 16 October 2023
Meeting place
Centre Block and Centennial Flame (14766251442).jpg
House of Commons of Canada - West Block - Parliament Hill
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada
and
Senate of Canada - Government Conference Centre
2 Rideau Street
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada
Website
www.parl.ca

The Parliament of Canada (French : Parlement du Canada) is the federal legislature of Canada, seated at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, the national capital. The body consists of the Canadian monarch, represented by a viceroy, the Governor General; an upper house, the Senate; and a lower house, the House of Commons. Each element has its own officers and organization. By constitutional convention, the House of Commons is dominant, with the Senate and monarch rarely opposing its will. The Senate reviews legislation from a less partisan standpoint and the monarch or viceroy provides royal assent to make bills into law.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Canadian federalism involves the current nature and historical development of federal systems in Canada.

A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country or city. Legislatures form important parts of most governments; in the separation of powers model, they are often contrasted with the executive and judicial branches of government.

Contents

The Governor General summons and appoints the 105 senators on the advice of the Prime Minister, while the 338 members of the House of Commons—called members of Parliament (MPs)—each represent an electoral district, commonly referred to as a riding , and are directly elected by Canadian voters. The Governor General also summons Parliament, while either the viceroy or monarch can prorogue or dissolve Parliament, the latter in order to call a general election. Either will read the Throne Speech. The most recent Parliament, summoned by Governor General David Johnston in 2015, is the 42nd since Confederation.

Advice, in constitutional law, is formal, usually binding, instruction given by one constitutional officer of state to another. Especially in parliamentary systems of government, heads of state often act on the basis of advice issued by prime ministers or other government ministers. For example, in constitutional monarchies, the monarch usually appoints Ministers of the Crown on the advice of his or her prime minister.

Prime Minister of Canada Head of government for Canada

The prime minister of Canada is the primary Minister of the Crown, chair of the Cabinet, and Canada's head of government. The current, and 23rd, prime minister of Canada is the Liberal Party's Justin Trudeau, following the 2019 Canadian federal election. Canadian prime ministers are styled as The Right Honourable, a privilege maintained for life.

A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the voters to a parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, this category includes specifically members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title. Member of Congress is an equivalent term in other jurisdictions.

Composition

The Parliament of Canada is composed of three parts: the monarch, the Senate, and the House of Commons. [1] Each has a distinct role, but work in conjunction within the legislative process. This format was inherited from the United Kingdom and is a near-identical copy of the parliament at Westminster, the greatest differences stemming from situations unique to Canada, such as the impermanent nature of the monarch's residency in the country and the lack of a peerage to form the upper chamber.

Parliamentary procedure body of rules, ethics and customs governing meetings and other operations of legislative bodies and other deliberative assemblies

Parliamentary procedure is the body of rules, ethics and customs governing meetings and other operations of clubs, organizations, legislative bodies and other deliberative assemblies.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north­western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north­eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

Parliament of the United Kingdom Supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom

The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known internationally as the UK Parliament, British Parliament or Westminster Parliament, as well as domestically simply as Parliament or Westminster, is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the Sovereign (Queen-in-Parliament), the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. The two houses meet in the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.

Only those who sit in the House of Commons are usually called members of Parliament (MPs); the term is not usually applied to senators (except in legislation, such as the Parliament of Canada Act), even though the Senate is a part of Parliament. Though legislatively less powerful, senators take higher positions in the national order of precedence. No individual may serve in more than one chamber at the same time.

The Canadian order of precedence is a nominal and symbolic hierarchy of important positions within the governing institutions of Canada. It has no legal standing but is used to dictate ceremonial protocol.

Monarch

The Queen Queen of canada wob.jpg
The Queen

The sovereign's place in the legislature, formally called the Queen-in-Parliament , [2] is defined by the Constitution Act, 1867, and various conventions. [1] Neither she nor her viceroy, however, participates in the legislative process save for signifying the Queen's approval to a bill passed by both houses of Parliament, known as the granting of Royal Assent, which is necessary for a bill to be enacted as law. All federal bills thus begin with the phrase "Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows ..." [3] and, as such, the Crown is immune from acts of Parliament unless expressed otherwise in the act itself. [4] The Governor General will normally perform the task of granting Royal Assent, though the monarch may also do so, at the request of either the Cabinet or the viceroy, who may defer assent to the sovereign as per the constitution. [5]

The Queen-in-Parliament, sometimes referred to as the Crown-in-Parliament is a technical term of constitutional law in the Commonwealth realms that refers to the Crown in its legislative role, acting with the advice and consent of the parliament. Bills passed by the houses are sent to the sovereign, or governor-general, lieutenant-governor, or governor as her representative, for Royal Assent, which, once granted, makes the bill into law; these primary acts of legislation are known as acts of parliament. An act may also provide for secondary legislation, which can be made by the Crown, subject to the simple approval, or the lack of disapproval, of parliament.

<i>Constitution Act, 1867</i> Primary constitutional document of Canada

The Constitution Act, 1867 is a major part of Canada's Constitution. The Act created a federal dominion and defines much of the operation of the Government of Canada, including its federal structure, the House of Commons, the Senate, the justice system, and the taxation system. The British North America Acts, including this Act, were renamed in 1982 with the patriation of the Constitution ; however, it is still known by its original name in United Kingdom records. Amendments were also made at this time: section 92A was added, giving provinces greater control over non-renewable natural resources.

The Cabinet of Canada is a body of ministers of the Crown that, along with the Canadian monarch, and within the tenets of the Westminster system, forms the government of Canada. Chaired by the prime minister, the Cabinet is a committee of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and the senior echelon of the Ministry, the membership of the Cabinet and ministry often being co-terminal; as of November 2015 there are no members of the latter who are not also members of the former.

As both the monarch and his or her representatives are traditionally barred from the House of Commons, any parliamentary ceremonies in which they are involved take place in the Senate chamber. The upper and lower houses do, however, each contain a mace, which indicates the authority of the Queen-in-Parliament and the privilege granted to that body by her, [6] [7] both bearing a crown at their apex. The original mace for the Senate was that used in the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada after 1849, while that of the House of Commons was inherited from the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, first used in 1845. Following the burning of the Centre Block on 3 February 1916, the City of London, England, donated a replacement, which is still used today. The temporary mace, made of wood, and used until the new one arrived from the United Kingdom in 1917, is still carried into the Senate each 3 February. [8] The Senate's 1.6-metre-long mace comprises brass and gold. The Senate may not sit if its mace is not in the chamber; it typically sits on the table with the crown facing the throne, [9] though it may, during certain ceremonies, be held by the Mace Bearer, standing adjacent to the Governor General or monarch in the Senate. [10]

The Legislative Council of the Province of Canada was the upper house for the Province of Canada, which consisted of the former provinces of Lower Canada, then known as Canada East and later the province of Quebec, and Upper Canada, then known as Canada West and later the province of Ontario. It was created by The Union Act of 1840.

The Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada was the lower house of the legislature for the Province of Canada, which consisted of the former provinces of Lower Canada, then known as Canada East and later the province of Quebec, and Upper Canada, then known as Canada West and later the province of Ontario. It was created by The Union Act of 1840. Canada East and Canada West each elected 42 members to the assembly. The upper house of the legislature was called the Legislative Council.

City of London City and county in United Kingdom

The City of London is a city and local government district that contains the historic centre and the primary central business district (CBD) of London. It constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the agglomeration has since grown far beyond the City's borders. The City is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of London, though it remains a notable part of central London. Administratively, it forms one of the 33 local authority districts of Greater London; however, the City of London is not a London borough, a status reserved for the other 32 districts. It is also a separate county of England, being an enclave surrounded by Greater London. It is the smallest county in the United Kingdom.

Members of the two houses of Parliament must also express their loyalty to the sovereign and defer to her authority, as the Oath of Allegiance must be sworn by all new parliamentarians before they may take their seats. Further, the official opposition is formally called Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, to signify that, though they may be opposed to the incumbent Cabinet's policies, they remain dedicated to the apolitical Crown. [11] [12]

Senate

The Senate Cansenate.jpg
The Senate

The upper house of the Parliament of Canada, the Senate (French : Sénat), is a group of 105 individuals appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the prime minister; [13] all those appointed must, per the constitution, be a minimum of 30 years old, be a subject of the monarch, and own property with a net worth of at least $4,000, in addition to owning land worth no less than $4,000 within the province he or she is to represent. [14] Senators served for life until 1965, when a constitutional amendment imposed a mandatory retirement age of 75. Senators may, however, resign their seats prior to that mark, and can lose their position should they fail to attend two consecutive sessions of Parliament.

The principle underlying the Senate's composition is equality amongst Canada's geographic regions (called Divisions in the Constitution): 24 for Ontario, 24 for Quebec, 24 for the Maritimes (10 for Nova Scotia, 10 for New Brunswick, and four for Prince Edward Island), and 24 for the Western provinces (six each for Manitoba, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta). [15] Additionally, Senators are appointed from two geographic areas not part of any senatorial division. Newfoundland and Labrador (since 1949 the "newest" province, although "oldest" English settlement), is represented by six Senators. Since 1975 each of Canada's territories is represented by 1 Senator—the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and (since its formation in 1999) Nunavut. An additional 4 or 8 Senators may be appointed by the Governor General, provided the approval of the Queen is secured and the four divisions are equally represented. This power has been employed once since 1867: to ensure the passage of the bill establishing the Goods and Services Tax, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney advised Queen Elizabeth II to appoint extra senators in 1990. This results in a temporary maximum number of senators of 113, which must through attrition return to its normal number of 105.

House of Commons

The House of Commons Ottawa - Parliament Hill - Commons.jpg
The House of Commons

The elected component of the Canadian Parliament is the House of Commons (French : Chambre des communes), with each member chosen by a plurality of voters in each of the country's federal electoral districts, or ridings. To run for one of the 338 seats in the lower house, an individual must be at least 18 years old. Each member holds office until Parliament is dissolved, after which they may seek re-election. The ridings are regularly reorganized according to the results of each decennial national census; [16] however, the "senatorial clause" of the Constitution Act, 1867 guarantees each province at least as many MPs as it has senators, [17] and the "grandfather clause" permits each province as many MPs as it had in either 1976 or 1985. [16] The existence of this legislation has pushed the size of the House of Commons above the required minimum of 282 seats.

Jurisdiction

The powers of the Parliament of Canada are limited by the constitution, which divides legislative abilities between the federal and provincial legislatures; in general, provincial legislatures may only pass laws relating to topics explicitly reserved for them by the constitution (such as education, provincial officers, municipal government, charitable institutions, and "matters of a merely local or private nature" [18] ) while any matter not under the exclusive authority of the provincial legislatures is within the scope of the federal Parliament's power. Thus, Parliament alone can pass laws relating to, among other things, the postal service, census, military, navigation and shipping, fishing, currency, banking, weights and measures, bankruptcy, copyrights, patents, First Nations, and naturalization. [19] In some cases, however, the jurisdictions of the federal and provincial parliaments may be more vague. For instance, the parliament in Ottawa regulates marriage and divorce in general, but the solemnization of marriage is regulated only by the provincial legislatures. Other examples include the powers of both the federal and provincial parliaments to impose taxes, borrow money, punish crimes, and regulate agriculture.

The powers of Parliament are also limited by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, though most of its provisions can be overridden by use of the notwithstanding clause. [20] Such clause, however, has never been used by the federal parliament, though it has been employed by some provincial legislatures. Laws violating any part of the constitution are invalid and may be ruled unconstitutional by the courts.

Officers

Each of the Parliament's two chambers is presided over by a speaker; that for the Senate is a member of that house appointed by the Governor General, as advised by the prime minister, while the equivalent for the House of Commons is a member of parliament, who is elected by the other members of that body. In general, the powers of the latter are greater than those of the former. Following the British model, the upper chamber is essentially self-regulating, but the lower chamber is controlled by the chair, in a majoritarian model that gives great power and authority to the chair. In 1991, however, the powers of the Speaker of the Senate were expanded, which reorganized the balance of power to be closer to the framework of the Commons.

Former Usher of the Black Rod, Kevin S. MacLeod, before the thrones in the Senate chamber, 2009 Kevin MacLeod in Canadian Senate Chamber 2009.jpg
Former Usher of the Black Rod, Kevin S. MacLeod, before the thrones in the Senate chamber, 2009

The Usher of the Black Rod of the Senate of Canada is the most senior protocol position in Parliament, being the personal messenger to the legislature of the sovereign and Governor General. He or she is also a floor officer of the Senate responsible for security in that chamber, as well as for protocol, administrative, and logistical details of important events taking place on Parliament Hill, [21] such as the Speech from the Throne, Royal Assent ceremonies, state funerals, or the investiture of a new Governor General. [22]

Other officers of Parliament include the Auditor General, Chief Electoral Officer, Official Languages Commissioner, Privacy Commissioner, Access to Information Commissioner, Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Public Sector Integrity Commissioner, and Commissioner of Lobbying. These individuals are appointed by either one or both houses, to which they report through the speaker of that house. They are sometimes referred to as Agents of Parliament. [23] Another key official is the Parliamentary Librarian, a position established in 1871 under the Library of Parliament Act, charged with running the Library of Parliament.

Term

The Constitution Act, 1867, outlines that the Governor General alone is responsible for summoning Parliament, though it remains the monarch's prerogative to prorogue and dissolve the legislature, after which the writs for a general federal election are usually dropped by the Governor General at Rideau Hall. Upon completion of the election, the viceroy, on the advice of his or her prime minister, then issues a royal proclamation summoning Parliament to assemble. On the date given, new MPs are sworn in and then are, along with returning MPs, called to the Senate, where they are instructed to elect their speaker and return to the House of Commons to do so before adjourning. [24]

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at the opening of Parliament, 14 October 1957 Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip sit on thrones before a full Parliament.jpg
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at the opening of Parliament, 14 October 1957

The new parliamentary session is marked by the opening of Parliament, a ceremony where a range of topics can be addressed in a Speech From the Throne given by the monarch, the Governor General, or a royal delegate. [note 2] The Usher of the Black Rod invites MPs to these events, [25] knocking on the doors of the lower house that have been slammed shut [26] —a symbolic arrangement designed to illustrate the Commons' right to deny entry to anyone, including even the monarch (but with an exception for royal messengers). [27] Once the MPs are gathered behind the Bar of the Senate—save for the prime minister, the only MP permitted into the Senate proper to sit near the throne dais—the speaker of the lower house presents to the monarch, or Governor General, and formally claims the rights and privileges of the House of Commons; and then the Speaker of the Senate, on behalf of the Crown, replies in acknowledgement after the sovereign or viceroy takes their seat on the throne. [24] The speech is then read aloud. It can outline the programme of the Cabinet for the upcoming legislative session, as well as other matters chosen by the speaker.

A parliamentary session lasts until a prorogation, after which, without ceremony, both chambers of the legislature cease all legislative business until the Governor General issues another proclamation calling for a new session to begin; except for the election of a speaker for the House of Commons and his or her claiming of that house's privileges, the same procedures for the opening of Parliament are again followed. After a number of such sessions—having ranged from one to seven [28] —a Parliament comes to an end via dissolution, and a general election typically follows. Subject to the Governor General's discretion, general elections are held four years after the previous on the third Monday in October or, on the recommendation of the chief electoral officer, the following Tuesday or Monday. The Governor General may dissolve Parliament and call a general election outside of these fixed dates, conventionally on the advice of the prime minister, which may be preceded by a successful motion of no confidence. The timing of such dissolutions may be politically motivated. [29] [30] [31]

Procedure

Both houses determine motions by voice vote; the presiding officer puts the question and, after listening to shouts of "yea" and "nay" from the members, announces which side is victorious. This decision by the Speaker is final, unless a recorded vote is demanded by members—at least two in the Senate and five in the House of Commons. Members of both houses vote by rising in their places to be counted; the Speaker of the Senate is permitted to vote on a motion or bill—though does so irregularly, in the interest of impartiality—and, if there is no majority, the motion is defeated. In the Commons, however, the Speaker cannot vote, unless to break a tie, at which time he or she will customarily vote in favour of the status quo. The constitution establishes the quorums to be 15 senators in the upper house and 20 members in the lower house, the Speaker of each body being counted within the tally.

Voting can thus take three possible forms: whenever possible, leaving the matter open for future consideration and allowing for further discussion by the house; when no further discussion is possible, taking into account that the matter could somehow be brought back in future and be decided by a majority in the house; or, leaving a bill in its existing form rather than having it amended. For example, during the vote on the 2005 budget, which was considered a vote of confidence, the Speaker of the House of Commons cast the tie-breaking vote during the second reading, moving in favour of the budget and allowing its passage. If the vote on the third reading had again been tied, the speaker would have been expected to vote against the bill, bringing down the government.

Simultaneous interpretation for both official languages, English and French, is provided at all times during sessions of both houses.

Legislative functions

Laws, known in their draft form as bills, may be introduced by any member of either house. However, most bills originate in the House of Commons, of which most are put forward by ministers of the Crown, making them government bills, as opposed to private members' bills or private senators' bills, which are launched by MPs and senators, respectively, who are not in cabinet. Draft legislation may also be categorized as public bills, if they apply to the general public, or private bills, if they concern a particular person or limited group of people. Each bill then goes through a series of stages in each chamber, beginning with the first reading. It is not, however, until the bill's second reading that the general principles of the proposed law are debated; though rejection is a possibility, such is not common for government bills.

Next, the bill is sent by the house where it is being debated to one of several committees. The Standing Orders outline the general mandate for all committees, allowing them to review: bills as they pertain to relevant departments; the program and policy plans, as well as the projected expenditures, and the effectiveness of the implementation thereof, for the same departments; and the analysis of the performance of those departments. [32] Most often, bills end up before a standing committee, which is a body of members or senators who specialize in a particular subject (such as foreign affairs), and who may hear testimony from ministers and experts, debate the bill, and recommend amendments. The bill may also be committed to the Committee of the Whole, a body consisting of, as the name suggests, all the members of the chamber in question. Finally, the bill could be referred to an ad hoc committee established solely to review the piece of legislation in question. Each chamber has their own procedure for dealing with this, with the Senate establishing special committees that function like most other committees, and the House of Commons establishing legislative committees, the chair of the latter being appointed by the speaker of the House of Commons, and is normally one of his deputies. Whichever committee is used, any amendments proposed by the committee are considered by the whole house in the report stage. Furthermore, additional amendments not proposed by the committee may also be made.

After the report stage (or, if the committee made no amendments to the bill, immediately after the committee stage), the final phase of the bill—the third reading—occurs, at which time further amendments are not permitted in the House of Commons, but are allowed in the Senate. If it passes the third reading, the bill is sent to the other house of Parliament, where it passes through the same stages; [note 3] amendments made by the second chamber require the assent of the original house in order to stand part of the final bill. If one house passes amendments that the other will not agree to, and the two houses cannot resolve their disagreements, the bill fails.

King George VI, with Queen Elizabeth, grants Royal Assent to bills in the Senate chamber, 1939 RoyalVisitSenate.jpg
King George VI, with Queen Elizabeth, grants Royal Assent to bills in the Senate chamber, 1939

Once the bill is passed in identical form by both houses, it is presented for Royal Assent; in theory, the Governor General has three options: he or she may grant Royal Assent, thereby making the bill into law; withhold Royal Assent, thereby vetoing the bill; or reserve the bill for the signification of the Queen's pleasure, which allows the sovereign to personally grant or withhold assent. If the Governor General does grant Royal Assent, the monarch may, within two years, disallow the bill, thus annulling the law in question. In the federal sphere, no bill has ever been denied royal approval.

In conformity with the British model, only the House of Commons may originate bills for the imposition of taxes or for the appropriation of Crown funds. The constitutional amendment procedure does make provision for the Commons overcoming an otherwise-required Senate resolution in most cases. Otherwise, the theoretical power of both houses over bills is equal, with the assent of each being required for passage. In practice, however, the House of Commons is dominant, with the Senate rarely exercising its powers in a way that opposes the will of the democratically elected house.

Relationship with the executive

The Canadian government consists of the monarch, predominantly represented by his or her Governor General, in council, which is a collection of ministers of the Crown appointed by the Governor General to direct the use of executive powers. Per the tenets of responsible government, these individuals are almost always drawn from Parliament, and are predominantly from the House of Commons, the only body to which ministers are held accountable, typically during Question Period, wherein ministers are obliged to answer questions posed by members of the opposition. Hence, the person who can command the confidence of the lower chamber—usually the leader of the party with the most seats therein—is typically appointed as prime minister. Should that person not hold a seat in the House of Commons, he or she will, by convention, seek election to one at the earliest possible opportunity; frequently, in such situations, a junior Member of Parliament who holds a safe seat will resign to allow the prime minister to run for that riding in a by-election. If no party holds a majority, it is customary for the Governor General to summon a minority government or coalition government, depending on which the commons will support.

The lower house may attempt to bring down the government by either rejecting a motion of confidence—generally initiated by a minister to reinforce the Cabinet's support in the commons—or by passing a motion of no confidence—introduced by the opposition to display its distrust of the Cabinet. Important bills that form part of the government's agenda will usually be considered matters of confidence; the budget is always a matter of confidence. Where a government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, the prime minister is obliged to either resign (allowing the Governor General to appoint the Leader of the Opposition to the office) or seek the dissolution of Parliament and the call of a general election. A precedent, however, was set in 1968, when the government of Lester B. Pearson unexpectedly lost a confidence vote but was allowed to remain in power with the mutual consent of the leaders of the other parties.

In practice, the House of Commons' scrutiny of the government is quite weak in comparison to the equivalent chamber in other countries using the Westminster system. With the plurality voting system used in parliamentary elections tending to provide the governing party with a large majority and a party system that gives leaders strict control over their caucus (to the point that MPs may be expelled from their parties for voting against the instructions of party leaders), there is often limited need to compromise with other parties. Additionally, Canada has fewer MPs, a higher turnover rate of MPs after each election, and an Americanized system for selecting political party leaders, leaving them accountable to the party membership rather than caucus, as is the case in the United Kingdom; [33] John Robson of the National Post opined that Canada's parliament had become a body akin to the American Electoral College, "its sole and ceremonial role to confirm the executive in power." [34] At the end of the 20th century and into the 21st, analysts—such as Jeffrey Simpson, Donald Savoie, and John Gomery—argued that both Parliament and the Cabinet had become eclipsed by prime ministerial power. [35] Thus, defeats of majority governments on issues of confidence are very rare. In contrast, a minority government is more volatile, and is more likely to fall due to loss of confidence. The last prime ministers to lose confidence votes were Stephen Harper in 2011, Paul Martin in 2005 and Joe Clark in 1979, all involving minority governments.

Privileges

Parliament possesses a number of privileges, collectively and accordingly known as parliamentary privilege, each house being the guardian and administrator of its own set of rights. Parliament itself determines the extent of parliamentary privilege, each house overseeing its own affairs, but the constitution bars it from conferring any "exceeding those at the passing of such an Act held, enjoyed, and exercised by the [British House of] Commons... and by the Members thereof." [36]

The foremost dispensation held by both houses of Parliament is that of freedom of speech in debate; nothing said within the chambers may be questioned by any court or other institution outside of Parliament. In particular, a member of either house cannot be sued for slander based on words uttered in the course of parliamentary proceedings, the only restraint on debate being set by the standing orders of each house. Further, MPs and senators are immune to arrest in civil (but not criminal) cases, from jury service and attendance in courts as witnesses. They may, however, be disciplined by their colleagues for breach of the rules, including contempt of Parliament—disobedience of its authority; for example, giving false testimony before a parliamentary committee—and breaches of its own privileges.

The Canadian Heraldic Authority, on 15 April 2008, granted the Parliament of Canada, as an institution, a heraldic achievement composed of symbols of the three elements of Parliament: the escutcheon of the Royal Arms of Canada (representing the Queen) with the maces of the House of Commons and Senate crossed behind. [37]

The budget for the Parliament of Canada for the 2010 fiscal year was $583,567,000. [38]

History

Following the cession of New France to the United Kingdom in the 1763 Treaty of Paris, Canada was governed according to the Royal Proclamation issued by King George III in that same year. To this was added the Quebec Act, by which the power to make ordinances was granted to a governor-in-council, both the governor and council being appointed by the British monarch in Westminster, on the advice of his or her ministers there. In 1791, the Province of Quebec was divided into Upper and Lower Canada, each with an elected legislative assembly, an appointed legislative council, and a governor, mirroring the parliamentary structure in Britain.

During the War of 1812, American troops set fire to the buildings of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada in York (now Toronto). In 1841, the British government united the two Canadas into the Province of Canada, with a single legislature composed of, again, an assembly, council, and Governor General; the 84 members of the lower chamber were equally divided among the two former provinces, though Lower Canada had a higher population. The governor still held significant personal influence over Canadian affairs until 1848, when responsible government was implemented in Canada.

The burning of the Parliament in Montreal, 1849 Incendie Parlement Montreal.jpg
The burning of the Parliament in Montreal, 1849

The actual site of Parliament shifted on a regular basis: From 1841 to 1844, it sat in Kingston, where the present Kingston General Hospital now stands; from 1844 until the 1849 fire that destroyed the building, the legislature was in Montreal; and, after a few years of alternating between Toronto and Quebec City, the legislature was finally moved to Ottawa in 1856, Queen Victoria having chosen that city as Canada's capital[ citation needed ] in 1857.

The modern-day Parliament of Canada came into existence in 1867, in which year the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland passed the British North America Act, 1867, uniting the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Canada—with the Province of Canada split into Quebec and Ontario—into a single federation called the Dominion of Canada. Though the form of the new federal legislature was again nearly identical to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the decision to retain this model was made with heavy influence from the just-concluded American Civil War, which indicated to many Canadians the faults of the American federal system, with its relatively powerful states and a less powerful federal government. The British North America Act limited the powers of the provinces, providing that all subjects not explicitly delegated to them by that document remain within the authority of the federal parliament, while simultaneously giving the provinces unique powers in certain agreed-upon areas of funding.

The first session of the House of Commons in its temporary location at the Victoria Memorial Museum, 18 March 1918 Opening session of the House of Commons at the Victoria Memorial Museum after the Parliament Buildings fire of 1916.jpg
The first session of the House of Commons in its temporary location at the Victoria Memorial Museum, 18 March 1918

Full legislative autonomy was granted by the Statute of Westminster, 1931, passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Though the statute allowed the Parliament of Canada to repeal or amend previously British laws as they applied to Canada, it did not permit the amendment of Canada's constitution, including the British North America Acts. Hence, whenever a constitutional amendment was sought by the Canadian parliament, the enactment of a British law became necessary, though Canada's consent was required. The Parliament of Canada was granted limited power to amend the constitution by a British Act of Parliament in 1949, but it was not permitted to affect the powers of provincial governments, the official positions of the English and French languages, rights of any class of persons with respect to schools, or the maximum five-year term of the legislature.

The Canadian House of Commons and Senate last requested the Parliament of the United Kingdom to enact a constitutional amendment in 1982, in the form of the Canada Act, which included the Constitution Act, 1982. [39] This legislation terminated the power of the British parliament's ability to legislate for Canada and the authority to amend the constitution was transferred to the Canadian House of Commons, the Senate, and the provincial legislative assemblies, acting jointly. Most amendments require the consent of the Senate, the House of Commons, and the legislative assemblies of two-thirds of the provinces representing a majority of the population; the unanimous consent of provincial legislative assemblies is required for certain amendments, including those affecting the sovereign, the Governor General, the provincial lieutenant governors, the official status of the English and French languages, the Supreme Court of Canada, and the amending formulas themselves.

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 Liberal MPs and senators sit in separate caucuses.
  2. On 1 September 1919, Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) read the Speech From the Throne at the opening of the third session of the 13th Canadian Parliament.
  3. Although rare, at times the incorrect version of a bill is transmitted between houses (i.e. not what passed third reading)—causing procedural problems, especially if not caught quickly, allowing the other house to advance the incorrect bill through multiple stages. For the last two occurrences (2014 and 2001), see Jordan Press (28 August 2014). "House of Commons to Correct Errors in Crime Bill it Sent to Senate". Ottawa Citizen . National News. Retrieved 7 June 2019..

Related Research Articles

The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law in Canada. It outlines Canada's system of government and the civil and human rights of those who are citizens of Canada and non-citizens in Canada. Its contents are an amalgamation of various codified acts, treaties between the Crown and indigenous peoples, uncodified traditions and conventions. Canada is one of the oldest constitutional democracies in the world.

House of Commons of Canada Lower house of the Canadian Parliament

The House of Commons of Canada is the lower chamber of the bicameral Parliament of Canada, along with the sovereign and the Senate of Canada. The House of Commons currently meets in a temporary Commons chamber in the West Block of the parliament buildings on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, while the Centre Block, which houses the traditional Commons chamber, undergoes a ten-year renovation.

Senate of Canada Upper house of the Parliament of Canada

The Senate of Canada is the upper house of the Parliament of Canada, along with the House of Commons and the monarch. The Senate is modelled after the British House of Lords and consists of 105 members appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister. Seats are assigned on a regional basis: four regions—defined as Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and the Western provinces—each receives 24 seats, with the last nine seats allocated to the remaining portions of the country: six to Newfoundland and Labrador and one each to the three northern territories. Senators may serve until they reach the age of 75.

An act of parliament, also called primary legislation, are statutes passed by a parliament (legislature). Act of the Oireachtas is an equivalent term used in the Republic of Ireland where the legislature is commonly known by its Irish name, Oireachtas. The United States Act of Congress is based on it.

Royal assent Formal approval of a proposed law in monarchies

Royal assent is the method by which a monarch formally approves an act of the legislature. In some jurisdictions, royal assent is equivalent to promulgation, while in others that is a separate step. Under a modern constitutional monarchy royal assent is considered to be little more than a formality; even in those nations which still, in theory, permit the monarch to withhold assent to laws, the monarch almost never does so, save in a dire political emergency or upon the advice of their government. While the power to veto a law by withholding royal assent was once exercised often by European monarchs, such an occurrence has been very rare since the eighteenth century.

Speech from the throne

A speech from the throne is an event in certain monarchies in which the reigning sovereign, or a representative thereof, reads a prepared speech to members of the nation’s legislature when a session is opened, outlining the government’s agenda and focus for the forthcoming session; or—in some cases—closed. When a session is opened, the address sets forth the government’s priorities with respect to its legislative agenda, for which the cooperation of the legislature is sought. The speech is often accompanied with formal ceremony and is often held annually, although in some places it may occur more or less frequently, whenever a new session of the legislature is opened.

New Zealand Parliament legislative body of New Zealand

The New Zealand Parliament is the legislature of New Zealand, consisting of the Queen of New Zealand (Queen-in-Parliament) and the New Zealand House of Representatives. The Queen is usually represented by her governor-general. Before 1951, there was an upper chamber, the New Zealand Legislative Council. The New Zealand Parliament was established in 1854 and is one of the oldest continuously functioning legislatures in the world. It has met in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, since 1865.

The Government of Canada, officially Her Majesty's Government, is the corporation responsible for the federal administration of Canada. In Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council. In both senses, the current construct was established at Confederation through the Constitution Act, 1867—as a federal constitutional monarchy, wherein the Canadian Crown acts as the core, or "the most basic building block", of its Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. The Crown is thus the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Canadian government. Further elements of governance are outlined in the rest of the Canadian Constitution, which includes written statutes, court rulings, and unwritten conventions developed over centuries.

Legislative Assembly of Alberta Single house of Legislature of Alberta

The Legislative Assembly of Alberta is the deliberative assembly of the Alberta Legislature in Alberta, Canada. The Alberta legislature meets in the Alberta Legislature Building in the provincial capital, Edmonton. The Legislative Assembly consists of 87 members, elected first past the post from single-member electoral districts. Bills passed by the legislature are given royal assent by Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, represented by the Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta.

Oath of Allegiance (Canada) a promise or declaration of fealty to the Canadian monarch

The Canadian Oath of Allegiance is a promise or declaration of fealty to the Canadian monarch, as personification of the Canadian state, taken, along with other specific oaths of office, by new occupants of various federal and provincial government offices, members of federal, provincial, and municipal police forces, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and, in some provinces, all lawyers upon admission to the bar. The Oath of Allegiance also makes up the first portion of the Oath of Citizenship, the taking of which is a requirement of obtaining Canadian nationality.

Parliament of the Bahamas

The Parliament of The Bahamas is the bicameral national parliament of Commonwealth of The Bahamas. The parliament is formally made up of the Queen, an appointed Senate, and an elected House of Assembly. It currently sits at Nassau, the national capital.

A Deputy of the Governor General is, per the Constitution Act, 1867, one of any individuals appointed by the Governor General of Canada, with the Canadian monarch's consent, to act as the viceroy's steward in his or her stead, exercising any powers so delegated to them by the governor general – generally limited to all abilities save for dissolving parliament, namely, granting Royal Assent to bills passed by parliament, signing Orders in Council, issuing Royal Proclamations, or receiving the credentials of newly appointed ambassadors to Canada.

In Canada, a lieutenant governor is the viceregal representative in a provincial jurisdiction of the Canadian monarch and head of state, Queen Elizabeth II. On the advice of his or her prime minister, the Governor General of Canada appoints the lieutenant governors to carry out most of the monarch's constitutional and ceremonial duties for an unfixed period of time—known as serving at His Excellency's pleasure—though five years is the normal convention. Similar positions in Canada's three territories are termed Commissioners and are representatives of the federal government, however, not the monarch directly.

Monarchy in the Canadian provinces

The monarchy of Canada forms the core of each Canadian provincial jurisdiction's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy, being the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government in each province. The monarchy has been headed since February 6, 1952 by Queen Elizabeth II who as sovereign is shared equally with both the Commonwealth realms and the Canadian federal entity. She, her consort, and other members of the Canadian Royal Family undertake various public and private functions across the country. However, the Queen is the only member of the Royal Family with any constitutional role.

A term of office is the length of time a person serves in a particular elected office. In many jurisdictions there is a defined limit on how long terms of office may be before the officeholder must be subject to re-election. Some jurisdictions exercise term limits, setting a maximum number of terms an individual may hold in a particular office.

In Canada, some jurisdictions have passed legislation fixing election dates, so that elections occur on a more regular cycle and the date of a forthcoming election is publicly known. However, the Governor General of Canada, on the advice of the Prime Minister of Canada; the provincial lieutenant governors, on the advice of the relevant premier; and the territorial commissioners do still have the constitutional power to, on the advice of the relevant premier, call a general election at any point before the fixed date. By-elections, used to fill vacancies in a legislature, are also not affected by fixed election dates.

In the Commonwealth realms, Queen's Consent is required before the legislature can debate a bill affecting the prerogatives or the interests of the relevant crown. In the United Kingdom, this extends to matters affecting the Duchy of Lancaster and the Duchy of Cornwall; for the latter, Prince's Consent must also be obtained. The Scottish Parliament adheres to the same requirement of consent.

Succession to the Throne Act, 2013 act of the Canadian Parliament adjusting the royal succession

The Succession to the Throne Act, 2013, which has the long title An Act to assent to alterations in the law touching the Succession to the Throne, was passed by the Parliament of Canada to give assent to the Succession to the Crown Bill, which was intended to change the line of succession to the Canadian throne and was passed with amendments by the UK parliament on 25 April 2013. Bill C-53 was presented and received its first reading in the House of Commons on 31 January 2013 and received Royal Assent on 27 March of the same year. The Act was brought into force by the Governor General-in-Council on 26 March 2015.

References

Citations

  1. 1 2 Queen Victoria (1867), Constitution Act, 1867, Westminster: Queen's Printer (published 29 March 1867), IV.17, retrieved 15 January 2009
  2. MacLeod, Kevin (2015). A Crown of Maples (PDF). Department of Canadian Heritage. p. 16. ISBN   978-1-100-20079-8 . Retrieved 16 June 2017.[ permanent dead link ]
  3. Public Works and Government Services Canada (13 December 2006), Bill C-43, Preamble, Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, retrieved 19 May 2009
  4. Queen Elizabeth II (1985), Interpretation Act, §17, Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, archived from the original on 5 July 2009, retrieved 1 June 2009
  5. Queen Victoria (29 March 1867). "Constitution Act, 1867". Westminster: Queen's Printer. IV.55.
  6. "Symbols Gallery". Library of Parliament . Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  7. McDonough, John (1979). "The Maces of the Canadian Provincial and Territorial Legislatures (I)" (PDF). Canadian Regional Review. Ottawa: Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. 2 (4): 36. ISSN   0707-0837 . Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  8. Library of Parliament. "About Parliament > Education > Classroom Resources > Canadian Symbols at Parliament > Parliament Hill Symbols > Mace (House of Commons)". Queen's Printer for Parliament. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  9. Senate of Canada (June 2015), Senate Procedure and Practice (PDF), Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, p. 55, retrieved 17 November 2015
  10. Senate of Canada , p. 51
  11. Marleau, Robert; Montpetit, Camille (2000). House of Commons Procedure and Practice. Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada. ISBN   2-89461-378-4. 1. Parliamentary Institutions > Institutional Framework > The Opposition.
  12. Schmitz, Gerald (December 1988), The Opposition in a Parliamentary System, Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, archived from the original on 25 April 2009, retrieved 21 May 2009
  13. Queen Victoria (29 March 1867). "Constitution Act, 1867". Westminster: Queen's Printer. IV.24.
  14. Queen Victoria (29 March 1867). "Constitution Act, 1867". Westminster: Queen's Printer. IV.23.
  15. Queen Victoria (29 March 1867). "Constitution Act, 1867". Westminster: Queen's Printer. IV.22.
  16. 1 2 Queen Elizabeth II (4 March 1986), Constitution Act, 1985 (Representation), Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, I.2, retrieved 19 October 2009
  17. Queen Victoria (29 March 1867). "Constitution Act, 1867". Westminster: Queen's Printer. IV.21A.
  18. Queen Victoria (29 March 1867). "Constitution Act, 1867". Westminster: Queen's Printer. VI.92.
  19. Queen Victoria (29 March 1867). "Constitution Act, 1867". Westminster: Queen's Printer. VI.91.
  20. Queen Elizabeth II (29 March 1982), Constitution Act, 1982, Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, 33, retrieved 20 October 2009
  21. Library of Parliament. "Usher of the Black Rod in the Senate". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 16 August 2009. Retrieved 19 October 2009.
  22. Queen Elizabeth II (12 January 2008). "Notice of Vacancy, Usher of the Black Rod" (PDF). Canada Gazette. Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada. 142 (2): 74. Retrieved 26 January 2009.
  23. "Officers and Officials of Parliament". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 27 May 2011.
  24. 1 2 Senate of Canada (June 2015), Senate Procedure and Practice (PDF), Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, p. 42, retrieved 15 November 2015
  25. Government of Canada. "Speech From the Throne > Frequently Asked Questions". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 9 March 2010. Retrieved 4 June 2010.
  26. Library of Parliament. "Parliament > Officers and Officials of Parliament > Procedural Officers and Senior Officials > Senate". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 19 May 2009.
  27. Royal Household. "Royal events and ceremonies > State Opening of Parliament". Queen's Printer. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  28. Senate of Canada 2015 , p. 45
  29. "Canada Elections Act". Justice Laws Website. Part 5. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  30. Queen Elizabeth II (12 July 2008), Canada Elections Act, Queen's Printer for Canada, 56.1.(2), retrieved 3 May 2011
  31. "Dissolution of Parliament - Compendium of Procedure - House of Commons" . Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  32. Parliament of Canada. "House of Commons Procedure and Practice > 20. Committees > Types of Committees and Mandates". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  33. Foot, Richard (15 January 2010), "Only in Canada: Harper's prorogation is a Canadian thing", National Post, archived from the original on 18 January 2010, retrieved 16 January 2010
  34. Robson, John (2 November 2015). "Trudeau's menacing promise of electoral reform". National Post. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  35. Brooks, Stephen (2007). Canadian Democracy: An Introduction (5th ed.). Don Mills: Oxford University Press. p. 258. ISBN   978-0-19-543103-2.
  36. Queen Victoria (29 March 1867). "Constitution Act, 1867". Westminster: Queen's Printer. IV.18.
  37. Canadian Heraldic Authority. "Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada > Parliament of Canada". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 8 August 2010.
  38. Vongdougngchanh, Bea (8 March 2010). "Parliament's budget boosted to $583,567,000 this year". The Hill Times. Ottawa. Archived from the original on 5 January 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  39. Text of the Resolution respecting the Constitution of Canada adopted by the House of Commons on December 2, 1981.

Sources

Coordinates: 45°25′31″N75°42′00″W / 45.42521°N 75.70011°W / 45.42521; -75.70011