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The Business of Parliament

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Read the Book

Parliament has three parts: the Monarch (our Head of State, represented by the Governor General), the Senate and the House of Commons. These three parts work together to decide on policies and laws and examine the pressing issues of the day.

Role of the Monarch

Although the Head of State in Canada is Queen Elizabeth II, her powers are defined and restricted by the Constitution. This system is known as constitutional monarchy. The functions of the Monarch are generally carried out by her representative, the Governor General.

The Roles and Responsibilities of the Governor General

  • representing the Monarch in Canada
  • performing duties outlined in the Constitution
  • promoting Canadian sovereignty
  • serving as Canada’s Commander-in-Chief
  • celebrating excellence through the presentation of orders, decorations and medals
  • granting coats of arms through the Canadian Heraldic Authority
  • promoting national identity, unity and moral leadership

Bicameral Parliamentary System

Canada’s Parliament has two Chambers: the Senate and the House of Commons. Each Chamber plays an important role in the lives of Canadians:

  • Any bill proposed in Parliament must be reviewed, refined and passed by both Chambers before it can become a law.
  • Either Chamber can elect to debate an issue of national importance.
  • Parliamentarians reply to invitations, respond to requests for information, and answer questions relating to federal topics from the people they represent.

The Senate

There are 105 Senators. They are appointed to Parliament by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister from all regions of Canada.

The House of Commons

Members of Parliament are elected to the House of Commons from 338 areas, called ridings, which are determined by population.