The House of Commons

The House of Commons is the elected lawmaking body in Parliament. When MPs meet together in the House of Commons Chamber in Ottawa, we say that the House is in session or is sitting. How is the seating of MPs in the House of Commons arranged? In the House of Commons Chamber, politicians from the same party normally sit together. The governing party sits to the right of the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Official Opposition sits directly opposite the Government. Where the members of the other opposition parties sit depends on the number of MPs elected from each party.

Chamber Business

The work of an MP in the Chamber includes reviewing and debating new bills that affect all Canadians. It also includes taking part in question period, making statements about important events and issues from the riding, raising issues and presenting recommendations and reports.

Usually, Cabinet Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries introduce bills, but individual MPs can also introduce new bills (called Private Member’s bills), as long as the bills do not involve taxes. The House is also where the budget estimates for each ministry or area of government services are debated and passed.

37

As House of Commons pages, we handle official documents and give messages to MPs while they are in the Chamber or in their committee meetings. There are 40 of us in total, and we are first-year university students.

WORD BUILDER

Some English words can be used as nouns or as verbs.

NOUN VERB
bill  to bill someone
EXAMPLES:  The health care bill passed second reading.
The parliamentary restaurant will bill him for the dinner.
report    to report
EXAMPLES: The House committee’s report was very detailed.
The Senator will report back to the committee.
study to study
EXAMPLES: The study shows that Canadians like their flag.
The Prime Minister studied law in university.

Create sentences using these words:

   change to change
   hold   to hold
   pass  to pass
COMMONS CHAMBER

39 Library of Parliament – Roy Grogan

1 Speaker of the House of Commons

2 Clerk of the House of Commons

3 Page

4 Government Members

5 Opposition Members (the Official Opposition along with MPs from other parties and independent MPs)

6 Prime Minister (the leader of the governing party)

7 Mace (the symbol of authority of the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Mace is placed on the Table and points towards the Government to show that the House is sitting.)

8 Green carpet (The green colour of Canada’s House of Commons is the same as that used in the House of Commons in England for well over 300 years.)

DID YOU KNOW?

38

Library and Archives Canada, PA-185700  |   Sgt. Ray Kolly, 1986 (GGC86-950)

The first woman to take the chair in either the Senate or the House of Commons, the Honourable Muriel McQueen Fergusson (left), was Speaker of the Senate from 1972 to 1974. The first female Speaker of the House of Commons was the Right Honourable Jeanne Sauvé (right), who served as Speaker from 1980 to 1984. She then became the first female Governor General of Canada, from 1984 to 1990.