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Description found in Archives

House of Commons fonds [multiple media]. 

Date(s)

1828-2004

Place of creation

No place, unknown, or undetermined

436.63 m of textual records
10 microfilm reels
65 maps
13 profiles
56 diagrams
117 architectural drawings
61 technical drawings
19145 videocassettes
6388 audio reels 1 audio disc
6 film reels

English
Added language of material: French

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records created and/or maintained by the House of Commons. Researchers are cautioned that unprocessed textual records and records in other media are not reflected in this description.

Textual records
18: Restricted
See Archivist
Textual records: microform
18: Restricted
See Archivist
Architectural: technical drawings
90: Open
Cartographic material
90: Open
Sound recordings
90: Open
Moving images (video)
90: Open
Archival reference no.
Former archival reference no.

Terms of use

Copyright belongs to the Crown. Credit Library and Archives Canada.

Finding aids are available. See lower level descriptions and accession records in ArchiviaNet (the NA website). (Other)

Biography / Administrative history

Canada is a constitutional monarchy. The Head of State is the Queen of Great Britain represented in Canada by the Governor General. The Parliament of Canada consists of the Sovereign, an appointed Upper House - the Senate, and an elective Lower House - the House of Commons. The structure of our government today evolved from the system of government in place in the British colonies of North America before 1867 where a bicameral legislature and responsible or Cabinet Government - a government with a Cabinet responsible to Parliament - had been a feature for many years.

The House of Commons of Canada was created under the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly the British North America Act, 30-31 Vic., c.3, United Kingdom) as the elected legislative chamber or lower house of Canada's Parliament. The constitution authorized Parliament "to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada." These laws concern matters of national interest. Most bills are proposed by the Cabinet and the House of Commons spends considerable time debating them. If a bill passes second reading it goes to committee of the House for clause by clause study. The Chairman of a committee reports back to the House with any legislative amendments. If there is a motion for third reading, the bill goes to the Senate for final approval. Bills involving taxes and expenditures may only originate in the House and are dealt with by the whole House (Committee of the Whole).

Currently, the House of Commons has 301 elected Members of Parliament, each representing a constituency or riding in Canada. In each constituency, the candidate who wins the largest number of votes is elected. Parliamentary seats are allotted roughly on the basis of population and the number of constituencies is changed after every census. Changes are based on recommendations made by commissions appointed under the Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act (RSC, 1985, c. E-3).

The formation and operation of the House of Commons is dependent on political parties. Normally, the political party that wins the largest number of seats in a general election forms the government and its leader becomes Prime Minister. The party that elects the second largest number of members becomes the official opposition. Each member signs an oath of allegiance, called the "Test Roll."

Parliament must meet at least once a year and is made up of one or more sessions. A session can last a few days, but not more than five years. The proroguing of Parliament brings to an end a particular session and the order paper is wiped clean of all unfinished business. The opening of a new session of Parliament begins with a Speech from the Throne where the government's legislative program for the session is announced.

The House is divided into ministers (the Cabinet) and its supporters on one hand, and opposition parties on the other. Cabinet exercises power in Parliament by controlling its supporters and party discipline ensures that government policies will be upheld and business will get done. The Prime Minister chooses the Cabinet and all of them become members of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. There is no statutory basis for the Cabinet and its function rests on conventions and customs derived from the British parliamentary system.

The Board of Internal Economy is responsible for the overall administration of the House of Commons. One of the main officers of Parliament is the Speaker of the House of Commons who is elected by the members and is the chief administrative officer. The Speaker presides at sittings of the House and decides on all questions of procedure. Another officer, the Clerk, keeps all papers and records of the House, including the Sessional Papers - the documents tabled during a session of Parliament. The Clerk who holds the rank of a deputy minister and is appointed by Order in Council, records the Votes and Proceedings. These are published at the end of the Session as Journal of the House of Commons.

Each day when Parliament meets, the Sergeant at Arms leads the procession into the chamber and lays the Mace - the symbol of Parliament's authority - on the table near the Speaker. The Sergeant at Arms also hires constables, messengers and is in charge of security. The debates of the House of Commons are carefully recorded each day and are published in Hansard the next day.

Additional information

Source of title
BNA Act (1867) now called the Constitution Act (1867)

Accruals
Further accruals are expected.

Government

Other system control no.

Related control no.

1. 1993 Agreement (Non-NA Act Institution)
2. 1937-174 NPC
3. 1942-019 PIC
4. 1960-023 NPC
5. 1961-070 NPC
6. 1966-104 NPC
7. 1968-187 NPC
8. 1972-193 NPC
9. 1974-447 NPC
10. 1977-059 PIC
11. 1978-086 NPC
12. 1978-206 NPC
13. 1982-83/005 GAD
14. 1983-84/002 GAD
15. 1997-0183 MISA
16. 1997-052 DAP
17. 1996-01192-8
18. 1996-02757-3
19. 2003-01246-X
20. 2003-01247-8
21. RG14