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 […]

Other reforms of Parliament are more urgently needed than electoral reform

A reader left the following comment on my post about the Reform Act’s proposals for party leader selection: While there is much to be said for the concept of MPs having more weight than the average party member in selecting a leader, this assumes that the MPs are properly representative of the party’s voters. Because of our skewed winner-take-all vopting system, this is far from the case. As Stephane Dion never tires of pointing out, our voting system “makes our major parties appear less national and our regions more politically opposed than they really are.” It “artificially amplifies the regional concentration of political party support at the federal level. This regional amplification effect benefits parties with regionally concentrated support and, […]

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 […]

Faint signs of democratic awakenings

I have written a number of posts on how whipped Canadian backbench MPs are when compared to their counterparts in other parliaments. In recent weeks, it would seem that some backbenchers have maybe had enough of this situation. One MP raised a point of privilege to argue that prevented by his party whip from delivering a statement in the House during “Statements by Members”, a 15-min period each day during which backbenchers can deliver one-minute statements on matters of international, national or local concern. As per the Standing Orders, any MP can be recognized by the Speaker to speak during this time, but, in practice, the Speaker is guided by lists provided by the respective party whips. The Member, Mr. […]

The real problem is MP irrelevancy

Recently, Canada’s federal Official Opposition proposed measures for improving decorum in the House of Commons. These measures would require changes to the Standing Orders in order to increase the Speaker’s authority to discipline unruly MPs: who use harassment, threats, personal attacks, or extreme misrepresentation of facts or position in the House, particularly regarding Statements by Members and Oral Questions, including: i.  Revoking questions during Oral Questions from parties whose Members have been disruptive ii. Issuing a warning to Members for a first offense iii. Suspending Members from the service of the House for one sitting day for a second offense; five days for a third offense; and twenty days for a fourth offense iv. Suspending Members’ sessional allowance for the […]

On closure and time allocation

As O’Brien and Bosc explain in House of Commons Procedure and Practice (2nd ed.), one of the fundamental principles of parliamentary procedure is that debate in the House of Commons must lead to a decision within a reasonable period of time. While the political parties in the House may disagree on what a ‘reasonable period’ might be, they would all agree that eventually, debate must end and the House must decide a matter. Over the years, changes to the Standing Orders have been made to expedite the business of the House. Chief among these was the introduction of time limits on speeches by Members. In the Canadian House of Commons, in most debates, MPs may speak once, for a maximum […]