Parliamentary Resources

I’ve added a new page to the blog on Parliamentary Resources. You can access it via the navigation menu above the header. The purpose of this page is to collate into one place a listing of resources dealing with parliaments, parliamentary procedure, and related matters. This is a work in progress; I will be adding to the list on a regular basis, so please check back regularly for updates. If you know of any sites or guides or other resources that I have not yet added to the list and that you think should be included, please bring them to my attention via the contact form.   Related Posts:On Speeches from the Throne and ProrogationSittings, sessions and parliamentsKeyword Post: Answers […]

On Speeches from the Throne and Prorogation

As is often the case – if you follow the right people! – a very interesting discussion transpired on Twitter over the matter of Speeches from the Throne and prorogation. For the uninitiated, prorogation is, normally, a very mundane parliamentary procedure used to bring to an end one session of a Parliament so that a new session can begin. If you read my post explaining the differences between a parliament, a session and a sitting, you will recall that a parliament lasts from one election until it is dissolved for a new election. In Canada, this tends to be about four years, with a constitutional maximum duration of five years. After an election, the new parliament begins with a Speech from […]

The Westminster System of Parliamentary Government

I frequently refer to the “Westminster system of parliamentary government” in posts, and thought it might be a good idea to fully explain how the Westminster system of government works. The Westminster System of Parliamentary Government The Westminster System is a democratic system of government modelled after that of the United Kingdom, as used in the Palace of Westminster, the location of the UK parliament. The system is a series of conventions and procedures for operating a legislature. It is used, or was once also used, in most Commonwealth and ex-Commonwealth nations. There are other parliamentary systems, for example those of various European countries, whose procedures differ considerably from the Westminster system. Aspects of the Westminster system include: a head […]

Sittings, sessions and parliaments

This post will explain what is meant by the terms “a parliament”, “a session” and “a sitting”. A parliament can refer to an institution, e.g. the Parliament of Canada, but it also refers to the period of time during which the institution of Parliament exercises its powers. A parliament, at least in the UK and Canada, does not exceed five years. A parliament begins with the proclamation of the Sovereign (UK) or Governor General (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc.) calling for the formation of a new Parliament and setting the dates for a new election and the day the new Parliament will first meet. A Parliament ends with the proclamation announcing its dissolution. As stated, traditionally and constitutionally, a Parliament […]

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 […]

Parliaments, PMOs and Social Media

On Tuesday, 31 January 2012, Education Secretary Michael Gove appeared before the House of Commons Education Committee. It is the Committee’s mandate to monitor the policy, administration and spending of the Department for Education and its associated arms length bodies, and having the Minister give evidence allows them to scrutinize his work, performance and policies. This in and of itself is not remarkable. What is different about this meeting is that in advance of the session, the Committee asked the public to suggest questions via twitter. By all accounts, this rather novel approach was a huge success: “We have been overwhelmed by how many there have been… For the last few days, there have just been hundreds and hundreds and […]