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Understanding Parliament

Federal Government Finances: Questions and Answers

What is gross domestic product (GDP)? What is the difference between real GDP and nominal GDP? How is the inflation rate calculated? What accounts does the federal government use for such transactions as paying Employment Insurance benefits and collecting sales and income tax? What are the federal government’s total revenues and expenditures? What are the principal sources of its revenues and expenditures? What happens when the government has a budgetary deficit or surplus? What is the difference between gross debt and net debt, and between financial and non-financial assets? How does cash-based accounting differ from accrual accounting?
You can find the responses to these and similar questions in a new Library of Parliament publication. It contains over 20 of these types of questions with clear and concise answers accompanied by tables and interactive graphics.

Transition to the 42nd Parliament: Questions and Answers

Transition to the 42nd Parliament: Questions and Answers addresses common issues associated with the start of a new parliament. Topics such as the impact of dissolution, government types (majority, minority, coalition) and government formation are discussed, as well as the impact of a new House of Commons on the Senate. As well, the roles of key individuals, including the Governor General and the Prime Minister, are presented in relation to the start of a new Parliament.

The Legislative Process: From Government Policy to Proclamation

Every policy initiative begins as an idea, and if successful, transforms from a formal legislative proposal (a bill) into a law. Before becoming law, a bill must pass through a series of specific steps – known collectively as the legislative process. This publication describes the four main stages of the legislative process for government legislation – the Cabinet stage, the parliamentary stage, the Royal Assent stage and the coming into force stage – and the various settings and players involved in each stage.

The Parliamentary Financial Cycle

One of Parliament’s fundamental roles is to review the government’s taxation and spending plans. In fact, the government cannot change taxation rates, impose new taxes or spend public funds without Parliament’s approval. The Parliamentary Financial Cycle provides a broad overview of the Canadian parliamentary financial cycle – notably the budget, the estimates and the public accounts – in order to assist parliamentarians in their consideration of the government’s taxation and spending plans.

Appointment of Officers of Parliament

This publication explains the appointment process and role of the eight officers of Parliament who perform independent oversight functions and report directly to Parliament: the Auditor General, the Chief Electoral Officer, the Commissioner of Official Languages, the Information Commissioner, the Privacy Commissioner, the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, the Commissioner of Lobbying, and the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner.

© Library of Parliament 2015

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