Before a duly elected Member may take his or her seat and vote in the House of Commons, the Member must take an oath or make a solemn affirmation of allegiance or loyalty to the Sovereign and sign the Test Roll (a book in which pages are headed by the text of the oath or affirmation).
When a Member swears or solemnly affirms allegiance to the Queen as Sovereign of Canada, he or she is also swearing or solemnly affirming allegiance to the institutions the Queen represents, including the concept of democracy and the democratic institution of Parliament. The obligation for Members to take the oath is found in the Constitution Act, 1867.
All Members of the House of Commons must be sworn in, whether they are newly elected or returning for a second or subsequent term.
Members must be sworn in by the Clerk of the House or another duly authorized official.
The general practice is for Members to be sworn in prior to opening day, after the Clerk receives the certificates of election returns from the Chief Electoral Officer.
The swearing-in ceremony is scheduled by staff in the Clerk’s Office in collaboration with the Whips of the different parties. The ceremony is usually held in the office of the Clerk or a small function room in the Centre Block and an official photographer is present. Guests may attend.
The swearing-in of Members of the Cabinet and Parliamentary Secretaries is a second, separate ceremony, arranged by the Privy Council Office and held at the residence of the Governor General (Rideau Hall).
Taking the Oath or the Affirmation
At the time of swearing in, Members have two options available to them–they may either subscribe to the Oath of Allegiance or make a solemn affirmation.
Members must take the Oath of Allegiance or make a solemn affirmation using the exact wording of either.
The wording of the Oath is as follows:
I (Member’s name), do swear, that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.
The wording of the solemn affirmation is as follows:
I (Member’s name) do solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second.