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Opposition Motions

Opposition motions have precedence over all government supply motions on supply days (also called “allotted” days). Members in opposition to the government may propose motions for debate on any matter falling within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada as well as on committee reports concerning estimates.

The Standing Orders give Members a very wide scope in proposing opposition motions on supply days and, unless a motion is clearly and undoubtedly irregular (i.e., where the procedural aspect is not open to reasonable argument), the Speaker does not intervene.

Any opposition motion is votable unless the sponsor of the motion designates it as non-votable.

Notice

A Member may put an opposition motion on notice even though an allotted day has not yet been designated. Before an opposition motion can be debated on a supply day, 48 hours’ written notice of the motion must be given.

A decision by the government not to proceed with a designated allotted day does not result in the removal of the notice of an opposition motion from the Order Paper. It can remain on the Order Paper until it is proceeded with later or unless withdrawn by the sponsor. Only the sponsor can cause it to be withdrawn, and the consent of the House is not required to do so.

Speaker’s Power to Select

The Standing Orders are silent on the method of apportioning allotted days among the parties, when two or more recognized parties form the opposition. Although the government designates which days may be used for the business of supply, the opposition parties decide among themselves which party will sponsor the motion.

The distribution reflects the proportion of seats each recognized party occupies in the Chamber. It is not within the purview of the Official Opposition to determine unilaterally who can propose a motion on an allotted day. When notice of two or more opposition motions appears on the Order Paper for consideration on an allotted day and there is no agreement among the opposition parties as to which shall be taken up, the Speaker must decide which motion shall be given precedence. Generally, in making this decision, the Speaker will take into consideration the following:

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