Opening of Parliament: Speech from the Throne (Canada)

Note: What follows is an explanation of what is the Speech from the Throne. If you are looking for an analysis of the contents of the most recent Throne Speech, this blog does not do that sort of post. There is plenty of analysis of the contents of the Throne Speech available on media websites such as the Globe and Mail,, Toronto Star, etc. Please read the “About” page for more information about current blogging policy.) (The Speech from the Throne to open the 1st session of the 41st Parliament was read on Friday, 3 June 2011 at 3:00 p.m. ET.) Following the election of the Speaker, the next order of business for a new Parliament is the Speech […]

Who’s Who in Parliament: House Leaders

In Westminster-style parliamentary systems, the party (or parties) forming the government name a House Leader (the title may vary somewhat from jurisdiction to jurisdiction). While their titles may vary, their duties are essentially the same: to oversee the organization and conduct of business in the legislative body. Canada In Canada, each political party with representation in the House of Commons has a party House Leader who is a front bench Member of Parliament (MP) and familiar with parliamentary procedure. The House Leader is in charge of the party’s day-to-day business in the House of Commons, and usually conducts negotiations with the House Leaders of other parties on the conduct of debates, including negotiating certain “rules” such as how much time […]

On secession

The May 5 elections for the Scottish Parliament returned a majority Scottish Nationalist Party government. Party leader Alex Salmond quickly announced that a referendum on Scotland’s independence from the United Kingdom would be held during the SNP’s term in office, and recently clarified that it would be held in 2015. For a Canadian, this immediately brings to mind the province of Quebec’s repeated attempts to gain independence. To date, two referendums have been held, one in 1980, the most recent in 1995. Both were defeated, though the last one was extremely close, with the No side winning 50.58% to the Yes side’s 49.42%. Following the second referendum, the Government of Canada initiated a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada […]

Who’s who in Parliament: the Speaker

The term Speaker is a title often given to the presiding officer (chair) of a deliberative assembly, especially a legislative body. The Speaker’s official role is to moderate debate, make rulings on procedure, announce the results of votes, and the like. The Speaker decides who may speak and has the powers to discipline members who break the procedures of the house. The Speaker often also represents the body in person, as the voice of the body in ceremonial and some other situations. In most Westminster-style chambers, the Speaker does not have a deliberative vote, but only a tiebreaker, called the casting vote. The Speaker is also expected to remove him or herself from politics, and remain as neutral as possible. […]

Keyword Post: MPs Indemnities, salaries and allowances

This is another post in response to recent keyword search activity on this blog. The information contained herein is very easily accessible here, on the Parliament of Canada website, which should always be your first stop when trying to find anything having to do with the Parliament of Canada, MPs, Senators, etc. (See this post for more useful resources you might want to bookmark for future reference). If you are looking for information about the salaries and allowances for UK MPs, please consult this fact sheet from the UK Parliament website. The salaries and allowances of Canadian Members of Parliament (MPs) are adjusted on April 1 each year. Increases to the salaries of MPs are based on an index of […]

Privilege, the press, the law and the Internet

A recent Guardian editorial on the matter of balancing parliamentary privilege and responsible behaviour concluded thusly: When parliament last examined the question of privilege, the internet was still in its infancy. Social media were embryonic. And the ink on the Human Rights Act was barely dry. The possibility that parliamentary privilege might intersect with the online world and the role of the press in all its complexity was not even imagined. At the very least, a new select committee examination is now required. And so, inescapably, are some clearer new responsibilities to go with MPs’ ancient rights. This was in response to the recent naming in Parliament of a prominent footballer by MP John Hemmings in defiance of a super-injunction […]