CanadaInfo Navigator Bar

House of Commons


The House of Commons allows us to witness democracy in action. On the floor of the Commons Chamber, the nation's most critical issues are debated and Members speak on behalf of all Canadians.

MAIN MENU: GOVERNMENT: FEDERAL: PARLIAMENT: HOUSE of COMMONS


The 308 Members of the House of Commons are the lifeblood of the parliamentary system. They are chosen to represent the people in their constituencies in general elections held at least every five years. Members play active roles in the legislative process, contributing their ideas and energy to the creation of effective laws. Their involvement in House business extends to participation in standing legislative and special committees and dominates an otherwise busy schedule of meetings and constituency business. The Members of the House of Commons almost always belong to political parties.

Current Members of Parliament

Find Your Member of Parliament Using Your Postal Code

If a party has enough members in the House of Commons to hold a majority of the seats in the House, then that party is asked by the Governor General to form the Government of Canada.

If a party has the most seats of all the parties, but not a majority of the seats in the House, the leader of that party will be asked if they can form a minority government, sometimes in partnership with another party. The composition of the House of Commons based on political party as of May 3, 2011 is outlined in the chart below.

ConservativesNew DemocratsLiberalsBloc QuébécoisGreenTOTAL
1671023441308



As of the 2004 General Election, the House of Commons is now composed of 308 seats based on an average population of 107 000 people, with some adjustments due to constitutional minimums for Quebec and the maritime provinces. The number of seats by province is as follows:

  • Alberta 28
  • British Columbia 36
  • Manitoba 14
  • New Brunswick 10
  • Newfoundland and Labrador 7
  • Northwest Territories 1
  • Nova Scotia 11
  • Nunavut 1
  • Ontario 106
  • Prince Edward Island 4
  • Quebec 75
  • Saskatchewan 14
  • Yukon Territory 1

The House of Commons Chamber

Layout of the House of Commons

Layout of the House of Commons
  1. Speaker. The Member elected by the House to serve as its spokesman and to preside over its proceedings. In particular, he or she is responsible for maintaining order and decorum. As Chairman of the Board of Internal Economy, the Speaker oversees the administration of the House. Please see the Speaker of the House of Commons page for more information.
  2. Page. A first year student from one of the national capital region universities employed by the House of Commons to carry messages, and to deliver House documents and other reading material to Members in the Chamber during sittings of the House.
  3. Cabinet Minister. A member of the Cabinet appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. Usually chosen from among existing Members and Senators, ministers are responsible to Parliament for their official actions and those of their departments. They are given the title "The Honourable" and membership on the Privy Council for life. Please see the Cabinet page for more information.
  4. Opposition Party. A political party which is neither the Government party nor part of the coalition of parties forming the Government.
  5. Prime Minister. The Head of Government, who is ordinarily the leader of the party having the greatest number of seats in the House of Commons. Appointed by the Governor General, the Prime Minister selects the other members of the Cabinet and, along with them, is responsible to the House for the administration of public affairs. Please see the Prime Minister page for more information.
  6. Leader of the Official Opposition. The leader of the party with the second largest membership in the House of Commons. Please see the Leader of the Official Opposition page for more information.
  7. Leader of the second largest party in opposition.
  8. Clerk and Table Officers.
    • Clerk of the House. The chief procedural adviser to the Speaker and to Members of the House of Commons and Secretary to the Board of Internal Economy. Appointed by the Governor in Council, the Clerk is responsible for a wide range of administrative and procedural duties relating to the work of the House and its committees.
    • Table Officers. The clerks who provide procedural advice during sittings of the House, take the votes and keep the minutes of proceedings.
  9. Mace. A large, heavy and richly-ornamented staff which is the symbol of authority of the House of Commons. When the Speaker takes the Chair, the Mace is placed on the Table by the Sergeant-at-Arms to signify the House is in session.
  10. Hansard.
    • Debates. The printed record of the proceedings in the House published after each sitting and based on the edited and corrected text of the "blues". The Debates are often identified as "Hansard" which is the name of the British family once responsible for the transcription of the proceedings of the House of Commons in the United Kingdom.
    • Monitors. One monitor (two during Question Period) sits at a desk in the centre of the Chamber and identifies speakers and interjections on a dubbing channel while the debates are recorded electronically.
  11. Sergeant-at-Arms. The senior officer of the House responsible for security and the maintenance of the Parliament Buildings.
  12. Bar (of the House). A brass barrier inside the south entrance of the Chamber marking off the area where non-Members may be admitted. It is here that witnesses must appear when formally summoned.
  13. Interpreters. Interpreters seated in glassed-in booths at the south end of the Chamber provide simultaneous interpretation of the proceedings into English and French for Members and the public.
  14. Press Gallery. A gallery in the House of Commons reserved for accredited members of the media. Members of the media accredited to cover the proceedings of Parliament and so granted access to the gallery reserved for them.
  15. Galleries. Areas in the House set aside for the public, the press and distinguished visitors who wish to attend a sitting.
  16. T.V. Camera. Remote-controlled cameras in the Chamber capture democracy in action.
SOURCE: Government of Canada.

See also
Parliament
Prime Minister
Speaker of the House of Commons
Cabinet
Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
Leader of the Official Opposition

External Links
Parliament of Canada Official Website


Copyright Craig I.W. Marlatt