Skip to main content
Bill On
The Hill
Teacher's Notes Glossary Learn About Parliament
Glossary
amendment
A change proposed to a motion, a bill or committee report with the intention of improving it or providing an alternative.
bicameral
Of two chambers, or rooms. Canada’s Parliament is made up of two separate Chambers. They are the Senate and the House of Commons.
bill
A proposal for a law to be considered by Parliament.
Chamber
One of two large rooms in the Centre Block where proceedings of the Senate and the House of Commons take place. Traditionally, the Senate Chamber is red and the House of Commons is green.
committee
A group of Senators, Members of Parliament, or both, selected to study a specific subject or bill and write a report about it.
debate
A discussion in which the arguments for and against a subject are presented according to specific rules. Discussions in the Senate and the House of Commons are called debates.
first reading
The first reading of the bill takes place at the same time as the introduction – it is the first time the text of the bill is read aloud.
government
The political party with the most members elected to the House of Commons usually forms the government. In the federal government, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet decide the policies and priorities, make sure they are put into action, and also guide the government’s legislation through the House of Commons and the Senate.
Governor General
A person appointed by our Monarch, on the advice of the Prime Minister, to be the Monarch’s representative in Canada. The Governor General is appointed for a term of five years. The term may be extended.
House of Commons
The elected Members of Parliament together form the House of Commons. This term also refers to the Chamber where they meet regularly.
introduction
A bill can be introduced in the Senate or in the House of Commons. Introduction is the first step of the legislative process.
law
A rule for all Canadians made by Senators, Members of Parliament and the Governor General through discussion and voting.
legislation
The Acts passed by Parliament which make up the law.
legislative process
The process by which bills are approved by Parliament and become laws. A bill goes through three readings and study by a committee in both the House of Commons and the Senate. After approval by both Houses, it receives Royal Assent and becomes law.
Member of Parliament (MP)
Technically, Members of both the Senate and the House of Commons are Members of Parliament, but most often this term is used for someone elected to a seat in the House of Commons. Members of the Senate are called Senators. Each Member of Parliament represents one of the ridings into which Canada is divided.
opposition
All political parties and independent Members who do not belong to the governing party.
Parliament
Canada’s Parliament is composed of the Monarch, the Senate and the House of Commons. Parliament has the power to make laws for Canada in certain areas of responsibility. A Parliament is also the period of time between an election and a dissolution.
parliamentarian
A Senator or a Member of the House of Commons.
political party
A group of people who have the same beliefs about how the country should be run.
Prime Minister
The Leader of the Government who is ordinarily the leader of the party having the greatest number of seats in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister is normally an elected Member of Parliament and represents a constituency.
private Member
A Member of Parliament who is not a Cabinet Minister, the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker or a Parliamentary Secretary.
report stage
A step in the passage of a bill through both the Senate and the House of Commons. The report stage is when the Senate or the House of Commons considers the report of the committee that has studied a bill, and when changes to the text of the bill may be proposed.
riding
Another word for constituency or electoral district.
Royal Assent
The last stage before a bill becomes a law. The ceremony of Royal Assent takes place in the Senate Chamber and is performed by the Governor General or the Governor General’s deputy with Members of the House of Commons present. A bill can also receive Royal Assent at Rideau Hall by written declaration.
second reading
During second reading, Senators or Members of Parliament from all parties debate the strengths and weaknesses of a bill. This debate ends with a vote on the principle of the bill.
Senate
Also known as the Upper House of Parliament. This term also refers to the room where Senators meet regularly.
Senator
A person appointed to the Upper House of Parliament by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. A Senator represents a region of Canada.
Speaker of the House of Commons
The Member of Parliament who is elected at the beginning of a Parliament by fellow Members of Parliament to keep order in the House of Commons, and to ensure that its rules and traditions are respected.
Speaker of the Senate
The Speaker is appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Speaker keeps order in the Senate and ensures that rules and traditions are respected.
third reading
During third reading, Senators or Members of Parliament debate the final form of the bill and vote on whether or not to pass it.
vote
(1) The way citizens choose a representative in an election.
(2) The process Senators and Members of Parliament use to make a decision.
Whip
The Member of Parliament or Senator in a political party who is responsible for keeping other party Members informed about the Chamber’s business and making sure they are present in the Chamber, especially when a vote is expected.
en-CA