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Speaker-Representative Role

As representative of the House of Commons, the Speaker has a number of ceremonial and diplomatic duties. The Speaker is the representative and spokesperson for the House of Commons in its relations with the Senate, the Crown and bodies outside the Parliament of Canada. Messages, correspondence and documents addressed to the House of Commons are communicated to it through the Speaker.

Diplomatic Role

The Parliament of Canada maintains relations with the provincial and territorial legislatures as well as with most foreign parliaments. Many of these relationships are carried on by, or in the name of, the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the Senate.

The Speaker holds membership and is an honorary president of a number of parliamentary associations and interparliamentary groups made up of Canadian Members of the House and Senators as well as Members of Parliament from other countries. Together with the Speaker of the Senate, the Speaker of the House authorizes the budgetary allocations for each association.

The Speakers of the two Chambers authorize and oversee exchanges and programs of parliamentary cooperation with other parliaments throughout the world. The Speaker’s involvement may include accepting invitations from other parliaments, hosting visiting official parliamentary delegations, and participating in the meetings of Speakers from Canada and abroad.

Ceremonial Role

The opening of a sitting of the House is always preceded by a ceremonial event known as the Speaker’s parade, in which the Speaker walks in procession through the halls of the Centre Block to the House of Commons Chamber. When entering or leaving the House, the Speaker is always preceded by the Sergeant-at-Arms, who carries the Mace, the symbol of the Speaker’s authority.

Whenever the House is summoned to the Senate Chamber to attend the Queen, the Governor General, or the representative of the Governor General, the Speaker leads the procession. This occurs at the opening of a Parliament and of a session, and whenever there is a traditional ceremony to grant Royal Assent.

When a new Parliament or new session opens and a Speech from the Throne is read in the Senate Chamber, it is then officially communicated to the House by the Speaker. When the House has debated the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, the text of the Address is “engrossed” (that is, transcribed upon parchment), signed by the Speaker and personally presented to the Governor General on behalf of the House.

During a sitting, the Speaker may draw the attention of the House to the presence of distinguished visitors seated in the Galleries of the House. Generally, this takes place immediately following Question Period, though the Speaker has also recognized visitors prior to and even during Question Period.

From time to time, a distinguished visitor (usually a Head of State or of government) delivers a joint address to Members of the House of Commons and Senators in the House of Commons Chamber. The Speaker, as host, plays a pre-eminent role in such events, which are organized in accordance with an established protocol.

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