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Chapter 7

POLS 2300: Textbook Notes on Chapter 7 - Parliament

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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 2300
Tamara Small

Chapter Seven Parliament Consists of: 1. Crown 2. Senate (Upper level of legislature --> appointed) 3. House of Commons (Lower level of legislature --> elected) Functions 1.Policy making functions -Passage of legislation 2. Representational functions -Express interests and opinions of electorate -Deal with problems of constituents 3. System-maintenance functions -Contribute to the work and legitimacy of other parts of the political system and the state Life Cycle Sessions: Working periods when government is open for business (# depends on gov’t of the day, but required to meet at least once a year) 3 major events: 1. Speech from the throne -GG summons MP’s and senators of parliament at the request of the PM -Members of both houses come together in the senate chamber -The speech (read by the GG) outlines the governments proposed legislative program for the forthcoming session *First speech tends to be reiteration of campaign promises Adjournment: Break taken by the house during a session -Speech occupies the first few days, then it is debated (can take several days) 2. Presentation of the budget -Delivered by the minister of finance -States where the revenue will come from to carry out the govt’s plans -4 day budget debate follows the presentation *Gives opposition a chance to defeat the gov’t Chapter Seven Parliament 3. Presentation of estimates -Governments spending proposals for the next fiscal year *Other than these main functions, sessions are used to prepare bills to become law Prorogation: Closing a session of parliament Dissolution: End of a parliamentary session -Brings on an election House of Commons: Functions -Reflect ideas and wishes of Canadians while leading and educating them -Provides government authority to govern -Supervises the work of the cabinet -Passes laws, impose taxes and authorizes expenditures -Adopts resolutions -Allows groups to debate on issues passed by the current government -Keeps the government accountable -Provides alternative government (opposition) Backbenchers: Those on the government side that aren’t ministers, or those on the opposition side not designated as party critics -Main job is to support party leadership Rules of the House Standing Orders: Rules of the house, permanent and impartial -Verbal confrontations during debate constrained by the fact that no member can speak without being recognized by the speaker -Once recognized every MP has the right to speak for a specific length of time without interruption as long as it’s relevant Parliamentary Privilege: House rule that enables MP’s to express themselves freely without intimidation Organization and Officers Speaker of the House -Impartial arbitrator elected by the whole house -Doesn’t vote unless their is a tie, then votes in favor of the gov’t of the day -In charge of the administration Chapter Seven Parliament Clerk of the House -Ensures relevant documents are printed and circulated -Advises the speaker of the house on parliamentary business of the day House Leader -Each party in the house designates an MP to manage party conduct -Obtains agreement between parties in setting the timetable for the house Daily Routine -Routine Business -Orders of the day: Procedure under which the house deals with public business *Consumes most of the time in a session -Government business (throne from the speech, passing bills, estimates) Opposition days: Opposition has a chance to lead major debates on government policy *20 opposition days a year Oral Question Period: 45 minute period held 5 days a week. The opposition has a chance to embarrass the government, criticize policies and force discussions Committees in the House of Commons 1.Committee of the whole -All the MP’s sit in the chamber in one large committee -Reserved mainly for money bills or to pass legislation (rare) 2.Standing com
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