Skip to main content Start of content

Opening of a Parliament or a Session

After a general election, the Clerk of the House of Commons (or another authorized person), having been informed by the Chief Electoral Officer of the results, administers the Oath of Allegiance to every elected Member, including those who have been re-elected. Members must take the oath or make a solemn affirmation of allegiance or loyalty to the Sovereign before taking their seats in the House of Commons.

The opening of a Parliament is also the opening of the first session of that Parliament. However, at subsequent sessions of the same Parliament, no Oath is required, nor is a Speaker elected; these sessions simply begin with the Speech from the Throne.

When the sworn-in Members assemble on the appointed day for the opening of a new Parliament, the Constitution requires that their first item of business be the election of a Speaker. Members are formally reminded of this duty by a deputy of the Governor General (usually a Justice of the Supreme Court) who receives them in the Senate Chamber.

The Speaker is elected (or re-elected) by secret ballot. At the time appointed for the formal opening of the Parliament, the Members, led by the Usher of the Black Rod (a Senate official), proceed to the Senate where the newly elected Speaker announces his or her election and ceremonially claims from the Crown the “undoubted rights and privileges” of the House of Commons. The ceremonial reply of the Governor General assures the House of Commons that it continues to enjoy the Crown’s confidence and favour.

After the claiming of privilege, the new Parliament is formally opened by the reading of the Speech from the Throne. Each subsequent session is opened by a new Speech from the Throne.

Top of page