Parliament Illustrated
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Parliament Illustrated

November 23, 2019


Parliament located in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa is the center of federal government decision-making. Parliament has three parts the monarch represented by the Governor-General, the Senate and the House of Commons. Decision made in Parliament become the laws that we live by. Bills, or proposed laws, can be introduced in either the Senate or the House of Commons but most are introduced in the House of Commons. After a bill is introduced in the House of Commons it is studied and debated. If it is adopted by the House of Commons the bill will be sent to the Senate. There it will go through a similar process. If the bill is approved by both the Senate and the House of Commons it is presented to the Governor-General or his or her representative for Royal Assent it officially becomes law. Many people work at Parliament. There are a 105 seats in the Senate, 338 Members of Parliament, or”MP’s”, in the House of Commons and many staff members and employees who work behind the scenes Parliamentarians or Senators and MP’s are men and women from all over Canada with different backgrounds. They are lawyers, business people, teachers, doctors, and nurses farmers, athletes, scientists, and many other occupations. This variety of experience gives Parliamentarians a broad understanding of the people they represent and of the problems that Parliament must try to solve. Senators are appointed by the Governor General based on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. To become a Senator ypu must be a Canadian citizen, be at least 30 years old, own property in your province or territory and live in the province or territory that you will represent as a Senator. To become an MP in the House of Commons, the candidate must win a majority of votes in a riding during an election. To be eligible to become an MP you must be a Canadian citizen, be at least 18 years of age on Election day. Senators and MPs are busy people. On any given day, they may discuss and debate important issues in the Senate or the House of Commons, meet with the people they represent, go to committee meetings, present petitions, answer questions from reporters, serve their constituents, do research, take part in conferences, ceremonies and other events, travel between their home region and Ottawa, and represent candidates around the world. At Parliament within the Senate or House of Commons some parliamentarians have an additional role to play. In the House of Commons, the political party that has the most MP’s elected form the government. The leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister chooses some MP’s to be Cabinet Ministers. Cabinet Ministers oversee a specific set of issues such as health, finance, the environment, foreign affairs or national defense. The opposition is made of MP’s of the other political parties. The leader of the political party with the second largest number of MPs in the House becomes the leader of the official opposition. It is the job of all opposition MP’s to question the actions of the government to try to ensure that the best possible laws for Canadians are made. One MP is elected by their peers to be the Speaker of the House of Commons. The speaker sits at the front of the Chamber and acts to make sure everyone follows the rules and traditions of the House. Their job is similar to that of a referee or a judge. Senators may be associated with a political party or they may be independent. Senators who belong to the governing political party in the House of Commons are organized into a caucus, or “group” from the same party. The Prime Minister appoints one member of this group to be the leader of the government in the Senate. The government leader often speaks for the government during Senate debates and answers questions on its behalf during Senate question period. other Senators organize themselves into an opposition caucus headed by the leader of the Opposition in the Senate. The Speaker of the Senate is appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The Speaker’s main job is to help the Senate move through its daily business by ensuring the orderly flow of debate and interpreting Parliamentary rules. Together, Parliamentarians work to make decisions that impact the lives of Canadians. Want to learn more? Visit www.parl.gc.ca/youth

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