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Parliamentary Practice

Underlying the Standing Orders of the House of Commons is a vast quantity of precedents and parliamentary traditions. The first representative assemblies of the colonies that eventually became Canada relied heavily on British tradition, and to a lesser extent, American practice, in determining their rules of order. The proceedings of the House of Commons are based on practices and traditions that have evolved from that time.

In instances where Canadian House of Commons precedents do not provide the necessary guidance, the Speaker has the full authority to go beyond the House’s jurisprudence “in all cases not provided for hereinafter”, as stated in Standing Order 1. The Speaker may turn to provincial or foreign precedents, typically those of Commonwealth legislative bodies, “so far as they may be applicable to the House”.

There has been a tendency for the House of Commons to codify in the Standing Orders many procedures that have originated and evolved as unwritten practices. Periodic reviews of and changes to the Standing Orders give the House of Commons the opportunity to adjust the interpretation of its precedents and traditions in light of changing circumstances.

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