On the origins of the Canadian Senate

A reader queried as to the origins of the Canadian Senate – why was it decided that the upper chamber should be unelected, why is it based on regional representation rather than equal provincial representation, etc. I would refer readers to an excellent paper prepared by the Senate’s own Committees and Private Legislation Directorate entitled A Legislative and Historical Overview of the Senate of Canada. I will highlight the main points made in the study. According the paper’s author(s), the upper House was critically important to those negotiating Confederation. Back in the 1800s, all of the British North American colonies, except British Columbia, were bicameral – meaning they had two chambers, a legislative assembly and a legislative council. The legislative […]

Why there won’t be a debate on the Drop the Health Bill e-petition

On 28 February 2012, the UK House of Commons Backbench Business Committee declined an application to hold a debate on an e-petition calling on Parliament to drop the Government’s bill to reform the National Health Service (NHS). The e-petition had received over 100,000 signatures, and the request for a debate was brought to the Committee by Labour MP Jonathan Reynolds and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas. The reasons why the debate was refused centred primarily on two important considerations: the bill had received, and would continue to receive, debate in Parliament, and the request for a debate on dropping the bill would be better suited to an Opposition day debate rather than a Backbench business debate. As explained on the […]

A video is worth a thousand words

I have written many posts about various procedural measures used in the British House of Commons that I think would be welcomed additions to the Canadian House of Commons. While I have attempted to describe these measures in detail, viewing them in action would probably be far more enlightening. The BBC’s Democracy Live website makes available clips of specific proceedings from the UK House of Commons (and Lords), making it quite easy for me to provide readers with clips of urgent questions, ministerial statements and other proceedings. Note – I don’t expect anyone to watch any of these in their entirely, but even if you watch them for only 10-15 minutes, you will gain a better sense of what is […]

Quote of the day

“An unpredictable House is a more effective House. It’s a good thing if perhaps the Government cannot always tell what is going to happen next.” – UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, in an interview for The House magazine. Related Posts:No Related Posts

Australia’s Labor Party’s revolving door leadership

In June 2010, Australian Labor Party leader and Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, was ousted by his caucus in a leadership challenge won by Rudd’s Deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who then became both party leader and Prime Minister. Less than two years later, history appears to be repeating itself, with Rudd now challenging Gillard’s leadership of the party. Gillard announced a ballot for the party’s leadership would take place Monday, February 27. Mr. Rudd’s challenge failed, and Ms. Gillard successfully held off the challenge, winning by 71 votes to 31 votes for Rudd. If Rudd’s challenge had been successful, he would have replaced Gillard as party leader, but not necessarily as Prime Minister of Australia. The party leaders in Australia […]

How to petition Canadian legislatures

A fair number of people regularly end up on this blog looking for information about petitioning Parliament. Here is an overview of the proper way to petition the House of Commons, as well as the provincial and territorial legislatures. Number of Signatures Before looking at the various petition requirements,  I want to address one issue that regularly turns up on the keyword search statistics on this blog. Many people are looking for information about “how many signatures are required for a petition” in Canada. In general, there is no minimum number of signatures needed to validate a petition. A petition could be submitted with only one signature on it. The Parliament of Canada does require that a petition have at […]