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THE PARLIAMENT OF CANADA
Parliament Our Parliament builds are located in Ottawa.
Our first Parliament buildings burned in 1916.
The Parliament consists of two houses (House of Commons and Senate) and the Crown.
The H of C (Lower House) is elected and the Senate (Upper House) is appointed.
The word Parliament comes from French roots meaning “discussing”.
•The reason the founders established an appointed Upper House is twofold: Founders believed “men of wisdom and good
stock” would be appointed to the Upper House. (Hand picked rather than elected by an uneducated electorate.)
Thought it would protect provincial rights. Because of Senator allotments less populated provinces would be protected. Same as Quebec.)
FUNCTIONS OF CANADA’S PARLIAMENT Policy making – it passes legislation
(very lengthy process)
Representative function – interests, opinions and concerns of the electorate are to be discussed.
System maintenance – Makes sure Canada’s political system runs smoothly.
Parliamentary Executive Made up of the Prime Minister, the Ministry, and
The PM and Cabinet are accountable to Parliament and may govern only as long as they have the confidence of the majority in the H of C.
Parliament is the main machine for representative democracy a place for political leaders to debate major issues of
Operations of Parliament
Parliament operates in “sessions”. Here the Governor General will call all Senators and MPs to the Senate where the Speech from the throne will be read.
Sessions end when the PM approached the Gov. Gen and asks him/her to end it. This is called “prorogation”.
If the session ends with an election call the PM will ask the Gov. Gen to dissolve Parliament.
CANADIAN HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
House of Commons
The Legislative Branch
The legislative branch in Canadian Politics debates policy and legislation.
Acts as a check on the activity of the Cabinet because the Cabinet is held accountable to the legislative branch.
House of Commons
House of Commons
The House of Commons is our major law making body.
There are 308 ridings throughout Canada each one having an elected member to represent that riding.
Each riding contains approx. the same amount of constituents (people) with the exception of PEI.
Elections are held no more than 5 years apart. Members are elected on a 1st Past the Post
model. There is a push to change to a proportional
representation system. PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION – an
electoral system that attempts to ensure that parties receive representation (number of seats) in parliament equal to their share of the popular vote.
Our Parliamentary Executive (PM, Cabinet) is rooted in the H of C Responsible Government makes it directly
answerable to it. Cabinet and the PM are answerable during
the daily question-periods.
Most of the House business is government business, however there are days set aside for opposition business. (Opposition days)
Role of the speaker of the house – to referee and keep order.
Types of government
1. Majority government –
2. Minority government –
3. Coalition government –
If a minority government loses a vote they it must either resign and have a new leader or ask the Gov. Gen to call an election. The Gov. Gen can refuse if it appears that
another party can gain the support of the House.
How much $
Salaries of MPs and reps.MP Salaries
The Senate is comprised of 105 seats: 24 Quebec, Ontario, Maritimes, Western
Provinces 6 NFLD 1 from each territory
Up to 8 more can be appointed when necessary.
Are appointed rather than elected. Why might that be?
Before 1965 Senators were appointed for life but now they retire at age 75.
Senators make: Senator salaries One major difference between Senators
and MP’s is they can and do vote across party lines
Qualifications of a Senator
Must be 30 yrs old. Own $4000 dollars in property Live in the province they represent. Canadian citizen
Can a Senator be fired? Yes,
if he/she fails to attend two consecutive sessions, if he/she loses Canadian citizenship (sweat
allegiance to another country) ceases to meet residence and property qualifications Convicted of a criminal offence.
The PM and Cabinet are not directly responsible to the Senate therefore if a government bill is defeated in the Senate the government could remain in power.
The Fathers of Confederation believed the Senate would act as a “sober second thought” on legislation created in the H of C.
Although the Senate can refuse to pass bills they rarely ever exercise this authority.
Function of the Senate
1. Review legislation - They often recommend changes to legislation. All legislation passes through both the H of C and the Senate. The Senate can
1. reject2. pass a bill 3. pass a bill with amendments (The H of C does not have to
accept these amendments. They can still pass it without the amendments.)
(Under Mulroney the Senate was a constant thorn because there was a Liberal majority in the Senate, that is why Mulroney added in 1990.
It can delay passage of a constitutional amendment up to 180 days.
2. Senators can introduce legislation with the exception of money bills. (Raising or spending of money)
3. At times when there is no elected representation of a region in Cabinet a Senator will be named to the Cabinet.
Why? Purpose is not as relevant. Many don’t agree with appointed Senate
Triple E Senate Elected Effective Equal representation of all provinces.
Smaller provinces like the equal rep. Larger provinces pushed a Double “E” Senate.