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Our Country, Our Parliament

Learn About Parliament


By focusing on Canada’s Parliament, Our Country, Our Parliament introduces students to basic principles of democracy in Canada.

Our Country, Our Parliament is intended for students of English and French at an intermediate level who may or may not know about democracy or Canada’s parliamentary system of government. Teachers can easily adapt the concepts, topics and vocabulary for use in grades 5–8 social studies units on the parliamentary process or for literary arts units.

This guide includes a chart to help teachers select activities appropriate to the grades they teach.

This guide also includes suggestions for using this guide and Our Canada, Our Parliament together, as well as assessment tools, a glossary and other Library of Parliament web resources.

Sections and Features

Using Our Country, Our Parliament, students can examine numerous aspects of Canada’s Parliament in the context of their lives, using language that is appropriately straightforward and content-rich. The booklet is divided into six sections:

Section 1: Canada: The Road to Democracy helps students understand basic concepts of democracy, the origin of the term democracy and the history of democracy in Canada. Students will also find out more about key documents that help define Canadian democracy, including the Constitution Act, 1982, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Section 2: Canada’s System of Government helps students expand their knowledge of Canada’s system of government, including the three levels of government and their respective powers.

Section 3: Canada’s Democracy in Action contains information about Canada’s representative democracy and how parliamentarians get to Parliament: elections, campaigns and voting.

Section 4: The Business of Parliament, the largest in the booklet, leads students through a lively exploration of the two-chamber system of Canada’s national Parliament, what each Chamber does, the role of the Monarch and Governor General, and the roles and responsibilities of key parliamentarians, including the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Speakers. Students are encouraged to follow a Senator and a Member of Parliament through their busy day, follow the process of passing a bill and look behind the scenes on Parliament Hill.

Section 5: Your Capital discusses the role of a capital city, in particular of Ottawa. This section also explains various features of Parliament Hill, including the Parliament Buildings.

Section 6: Parliament in Motion empowers students to get involved in democratic processes by encouraging them to identify important issues and determine appropriate actions they could take.

Our Country, Our Parliament also includes a glossary and a list of Library of Parliament web resources.

Youth narrators, who were, at the time of writing, real Senate and House of Commons pages, and Parliamentary Guides (although their names have been changed to protect their privacy) lead students through Our Country, Our Parliament.

Throughout the booklet, students are encouraged to view Parliament as a place to which they can bring their thoughts and concerns. The parliamentary process is positioned as an essential activity for Canadian democracy, one in which students, now and in the future, have key roles to play.

Special Features
Sidebars are designed to help students enrich their vocabulary and increase their knowledge in a cross-cultural context. You can use these features to stimulate class discussion or as homework assignments.

Learning Outcomes

The general learning outcomes for Our Country, Our Parliament focus on strengthening student expertise and ability in the following areas:

As set out below, there are also specific learning outcomes for each section of Our Country, Our Parliament, as well as activities that allow students to deepen their knowledge and assess the decision-making process in Canada from a non-partisan perspective.

Parliament or Government: What's the Difference?
How to Use Our Country, Our Parliament

In this section of the booklet, students will do the following:

Section 1: Canada: The Road to Democracy
In this section of the booklet, students will do the following:

Section 2: Canada's System of Government
In this section of the booklet, students will do the following:

Section 3: Canada's Democracy in Action
In this section of the booklet, students will do the following:

Section 4: The Business of Parliament
In this section of the booklet, students will do the following:

Section 5: Your Capital
In this section of the booklet, students will do the following:

Section 6: Parliament in Motion
In this section of the booklet, students will do the following:

Wrapping Up Your Parliamentary Unit
Once your students have completed reading Our Country, Our Parliament, review what they have learned using some of the features you may not have had time for before (try What About Me? on pages 20 and 28). Watch parliamentary debates on the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC), referring to the Talk About It! on page 34.

© Library of Parliament | Revised: 2009-09