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Our Country, Our Parliament

Learn About Parliament

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Section 4: The Business of Parliament

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  • Booklet: Section 4 Download the PDF
  • Combined Section 4 activity handouts: Canada's System of Government Download the PDF
  • Handout: Making a Speech Download the PDF
  • Handout: In the House: Game Download the PDF
  • Handout: Bill on the Hill Download the PDF
  • Handout: Make it Law Download the PDF
  • Instruction Levels

    Activity 9: Words in Your Mouth

    Objectives

    Graphic for activity 4Materials

    Web Links

    Teacher Notes
    This activity is best done after the students have read Section 3: Canada's Democracy in Action of Our Country, Our Parliament and have started to read Section 4: The Business of Parliament. When appropriate for your class, read and discuss the Word Builder activities suggested in Our Country, Our Parliament (pages 23, 26, 28 and 32). You can also prepare your class by building an activity around the Talk About It! section on page 30.

    Discuss how and when parliamentarians make speeches: debating bills or important issues for Canada, in Chambers or around the country, and, for MPs, while campaigning in their constituencies. Parliamentarians often make public speeches to specific audiences; Ministers announce new programs and legislation; Opposition members use speeches to criticize government policy. Parliamentarians address issues of concern to people in their regions and in minority groups, and use speeches to make their point in public.

    Explain that Senators and MPs make speeches in the Chambers when Parliament is in session. Use the pictures of the Senate and the House of Commons (pages 25 and 27) to highlight where these speeches take place.

    Have the class brainstorm some of the topics parliamentarians might discuss in their speeches. Create a mind map on the board that students can later refer to if they do not have any ideas for their own speeches.

    Give students the Making a Speech handout and time to prepare their speeches. Be specific about your expectations (e.g. length, memorized), taking into account your students' level. When everyone has finished, have students present their speeches to the class. If some students finish early, encourage them to practise saying their speeches. For variety and challenge, have students write and exchange their speeches with each other, explaining that Senators and MPs have people on their staffs who only write speeches. When appropriate, have students hand in the good copies of their speech for assessment.

    Extend This Activity
    Parliamentarians have to be persuasive and clear when they speak and to be attentive when they listen. To encourage active listening when students present their speeches, have students write down each presenter's main idea. After each presentation, have a vote to see whether students agreed with the main point being made. Make sure to frame the vote in such a way that it is clear that students are voting on whether they agree with the point being made in the speech, not on the person presenting it.

    Assessment Tool
    Words in Your Mouth: Parliamentarian Speech Oral and Written Rubric (T)

    Activity 10: In the House

    Objectives

    Instruction Levels

    Materials

    Web Links

    Teacher Notes
    If you have not already done so, review pages 26–27 and 33 of Our Country, Our Parliament. Print out the game questions and game point cards.  Cut out the game point cards and put them in a hat or container so that students can draw them.

    Divide the class into two teams and explain how the game works, including the game rules. Ask the true or false questions from the question sheet. The first student to get the right answer for his or her team wins the chance to draw a point card. Point values range from zero to three. Depending on time, decide how many points it takes to win the game.

    Extend This Activity
    Instead of using the questions provided in this guide, have students create their own questions. More advanced students could create short-answer questions instead of true or false ones.

    Graphic for activity 4
    Activity 11: Bill on the Hill

    Objectives

    Instruction Levels

    Materials

    Web Links

    Teacher Notes
    Part One:
    Review pages 30–31 of Our Country, Our Parliament with your students, outlining the process that a bill must follow to become a law. Have a discussion based on the Talk About It! in preparation for this activity. Distribute the Bill on the Hill handout, and ask your students to cut up the steps and rearrange them into the correct sequence. Once they have completed the sequencing, use the flow chart on page 31 of Our Country, Our Parliament to self-correct and to reinforce the process as a class.

    Ask your students what happens when a bill doesn't pass a vote? According to procedure, a bill must pass in both the Senate and House of Commons in the same form before it can become law. The two Chambers communicate through messages, informing one another that a bill has passed or that amendments have been made. The other Chamber must agree to any amendments to the bill, and messages go back and forth until agreement is reached. Once a bill is passed by both Chambers in the same form, it requires Royal Assent before it can be proclaimed into law.

    Part Two: Brainstorm potential laws with your class. Encourage your students to be inventive. Ask students to draft a simplified bill that they would like to see made law; have them write the idea in a simple sentence or two. Use the Make It Law handout to help students organize their ideas. The Library of Parliament's Model Parliament Unit has sample bills for student reference. These bills provide ideas of potential bills and things to consider when drafting and debating bills.

    Help your students write their bills by putting sample wording up on the board (e.g. "Every Canadian must take the bus once a week," or "All Canadians must volunteer at a charity once a year").

    Part Three: Once students have completed the Make it Law handout, ask them to write down their idea for a law on a small piece of paper and put all the student ideas into a container. Draw out an idea and use it as a springboard to discuss the legislative process. Review with your students what steps their proposed bill would take before becoming law (e.g. "We now have an idea for a new law; what do we need to do first?").

    Extend This Activity
    Discuss or debate the process of passing a bill in Canada. Either assign students to teams in favour of or against the current system or run a more informal discussion, allowing students to choose when they participate. Ask questions such as, "What are the advantages or disadvantages to the system Canada uses for passing bills?" and "Why do you think bills have to be passed by both the House of Commons and Senate before they receive Royal Assent and become law?"

    © Library of Parliament | Revised: 2009-09