Forming a Government

When the election is over, all winning candidates become Members of Parliament, or MPs for short. The MPs whose party does not form the Government are called opposition MPs. The Official Opposition is usually the party with the second-highest number of elected members after the winning party. The leader of this party is called the Leader of the Official Opposition.

When it is time for Parliament to sit, parliamentarians will discuss and debate new bills (proposed laws) and make decisions that affect every Canadian. For more information on bills, see The The Process of Passing a Bill

DID YOU KNOW?

Canada’s first Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Sir John A. Macdonald (pictured below), called the Senate a place of “sober second thought.”

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House of Commons, Ottawa

WHAT ABOUT ME?

Who is your MP? What riding do you live in? What party does your MP belong to? Do you know where your MP’s riding office is? Look it up if you do not know! Your MP has people working in his or her office who can help you if you have a problem, such as difficulty getting a government service, or if you have a complaint or question about government. It is your MP’s job to listen to all his or her constituents (people who live in the riding), even if they did not vote for him or her.

THINK ABOUT IT

Would you rather be a Senator or an MP? What do you think the advantages and disadvantages of each role might be?

WORD BUILDER

SENATE

This word comes from the Latin senex, meaning elder. Literally, it means a council of elders.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

The word commons comes from the Latin communis, which means shared by many. Other related words are community, communication and commune.

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I work in the Parliament Buildings. When Parliament is in session, the Senators and MPs are in town. They meet to discuss issues and policy and to debate bills, both in the Chambers and in committee.