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Substitutions of Committee Members

When members of a standing or standing joint committee are unable to attend committee meetings, the Standing Orders provide for their replacement by designated substitutes. Substitutes can be named either by the Member being substituted or by the Whip of his or her party, but must be confirmed by filing with the clerk a signed notice by the appropriate party Whip.

A substitute enjoys the same rights and privileges as the regular member of a committee. Substitutes are counted for the purposes of establishing a quorum, and they may participate in debate, move motions and vote. A substitution cannot be in effect while the regular committee member is present at the meeting.

Standing Committees

Standing committee members may file with the clerk of the committee a list of the names of up to 14 members of their party who may act as substitutes when required. These lists usually include the names of party colleagues who have been named to the committee as associate members.

The list of substitutes is to be filed within five sitting days of the committee’s organization meeting, and amendments to it may be filed subsequently as required. The Member must send notification of a substitution to his or her party Whip the day before it is to take effect. After signing the notification, the Whip forwards it to the clerk of the committee.

The Whip may initiate a substitution by filing a notice with the clerk of the committee. For the purpose of substitution, the Whip may select any Member of his or her party.

Legislative Committees

The Standing Orders provide for substitutions in legislative committees to be made in the same manner as in standing committees.

Additionally, when Members are unable to carry out their duties on a legislative committee, their Whip may replace them by filing a change in membership, in conformity with Standing Order 114(3), with the clerk of the committee.

Special Committees

Substitutions are permitted on special committees only when such a power is granted in their order of reference and only as stipulated. The House has permitted substitutions on special committees in a manner similar to that used for standing committees and has also permitted special committee membership to be changed upon signed notification by a party Whip, as can be done for legislative committees.


Committees do not normally make explicit provision for substitutions when establishing subcommittees. Membership is often designated by indicating the number of Members from each party rather than naming specific Members to a subcommittee. This practice permits any of the regular or associate members of a party on the main committee to be named to the subcommittee. The use of associate members on subcommittees helps to reduce the workload of regular committee members. It also permits a Member with particular interest or expertise in the specific area being examined by the subcommittee to participate in its work without being obliged to become a regular member of the main committee.

Non-Voting Members

In relation to Parliamentary Secretaries named as non-voting members of a committee, the Chief Government Whip may effect a substitution of one Parliamentary Secretary for another by filing a notice with the clerk of the committee in the same manner as with voting committee members. A Parliamentary Secretary named as a non-voting member of a committee is not eligible to act as a substitute for a voting member of that committee, but may act as a substitute for a voting member of a different committee.

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