A Day in the Life of a Member of Parliament

In addition to their work in the Chamber, MPs have many responsibilities. They are accountable (must answer) to the people who voted for them. At the same time, they must follow their party leader. While Parliament is in session, MPs typically spend Monday to Thursday in Ottawa, and Fridays and weekends in their riding, although this can change depending on their meeting schedules and on Parliament’s business. When Parliament is sitting, there is a routine schedule to follow called the Daily Order of Business. MPs spend a set amount of time in the Chamber, in their offices and in committees.

Like Senators, MPs work on committees to examine proposed bills in detail and to investigate issues. They also hear witnesses and report back to the House with their findings and recommendations. Some committees are permanent (these are called Standing Committees), and consider very important issues such as the environment or immigration. Other committees are formed (or struck) if a temporary issue needs to be examined. MPs also spend time in caucus every Wednesday morning, where they discuss strategy and ideas for laws with the rest of the Senators and MPs from the same political party.

While in their home ridings, they attend events and meet with people and organizations to listen to their concerns. At their offices in their home ridings and in Ottawa, they have a group of people who help them set up meetings, and prepare for debates and committee meetings. These researchers and administrators are called staff.

While Parliament is in session, the House has a daily schedule. An average week looks like this:

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WORD BUILDER

Constituent, from the same root as constitution, means a part of. In politics, a constituent is a person a politician represents.

TALK ABOUT IT!

The liveliest part of the day in the House of Commons is question period (also called oral questions), where the Government MPs must answer questions from other Members. You can watch some of question period with your class. (Question period and other House of Commons business are shown on television and online, as well as recorded in Hansard, the word-for-word record of all discussion in the House of Commons.) How do parliamentarians behave? Why is this so? How can you tell? What are other MPs doing while questions are asked?

DID YOU KNOW?

When there is a vote in either the Senate or the House of Commons, bells ring and the lights in the Parliament Buildings blink on and off. It is an important job to get all the parliamentarians to the Chamber when a vote is called. The people responsible for this task are  the party whips.

DID YOU KNOW?

If you are touring the Parliament buildings, you may be able to visit the Senate and the House of Commons Chambers. When the Chambers are sitting, you may even observe from the galleries and watch democracy in action.