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Welcome to the House of Commons

parliamentary heritage
125th Anniversary of Hansard

House of Commons.

Tuesday, 4th May, 1880.

The Speaker took the Chair at Three o'clock.


Official Report of the Debates.

Committee's report presented.

"Hansard exists, not for the legislator alone but, in a real sense, for the nation."

Former Parliamentary Librarian and Parliamentarian, Martin Burrell, 1928

On May 4, 1880, the Official Debates Reporting Branch published its first record of the debates in the House of Commons. Hansard remains critical today not only for Members and the smooth functioning of Parliament, but also for the historical record of Canada. To honour this 125th anniversary, the House of Commons is presenting the history and accomplishments of Hansard in this 2005-2006 annual report.

The House of Commons is a place where Canadians can see democratic principles put into action. Elected representatives debate national issues, examine proposals for laws, and express the ideas and concerns of their constituents. It is a place of reflection and action, debate and decision. This work takes place not only in the green-carpeted Chamber that television has made familiar to Canadians, but in committee rooms, party caucus rooms and Members' offices. In all these areas of activity, Members of Parliament are supported by the employees of the House of Commons Administration.

This past year was marked by a key event in a democracy: an election. The 38th Parliament ended in November 2005, and Canadians went to the polls in January 2006, to elect their federal representatives. This Report to Canadians focuses on the work of Members and the House Administration from April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2006, and on the Administration's commitments for 2006-2007. The 39th Parliament, the work of new and returning Members and the support provided by the House Administration will be the subject of next year's report.

In this section of the Report to Canadians, you will find information on the composition of the House of Commons and the activities carried out by Members of Parliament.

The Work of a Member of Parliament

Members of the House of Commons have many roles: they make laws, bring Canadians' ideas and concerns to national attention, act as ombudspersons for their constituents, and represent Canada internationally.

In the Chamber - The Chamber is the focal point for the Commons' activities. Members debate and vote on proposals, table documents and petitions, ask questions of the government, and raise issues of importance to Canadians.

In committee - Members also serve on committees, where they examine bills, departmental expenditures and current issues in depth.

In their constituencies - Constituents contact their Members of Parliament to discuss matters of concern to them, and to ask for help regarding federal government programs and services.

On the international stage - Members have a role to play internationally by representing Canada's interests, promoting democratic institutions and strengthening ties with other countries.

Party Membership in the House of Commons

Members of Parliament are also members of their respective political parties. Senators and Members of the House of Commons who belong to the same party attend regular and special caucus meetings, where they raise issues on behalf of constituents, and discuss party policies and parliamentary strategy. While some Members sit as independants, most belong to one of four party caucuses. Listed alphabetically, these caucuses are the Bloc Québécois, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, and the New Democratic Party.

House of Commons Chamber

The House of Commons Chamber is a forum where national issues and legislation are debated.

Photo: © Library of Parliament/Roy Grogan

At the end of the 38th Parliament, party membership in the House of Commons was distributed as follows:
Province Lib. Cons. BQ NDP Ind. Vacant Total
Alberta 1 26     1   28
British Columbia 8 22   5   1 36
Prince Edward Island 4           4
Manitoba 3 7   3 1   14
New Brunswick 7 2   1     10
Nova Scotia 6 3   2     11
Ontario 74 23   7 2   106
Quebec 21   53     1 75
Saskatchewan 1 13         14
Newfoundland and Labrador 5 2         7
Nunavut 1           1
Northwest Territories 1           1
Yukon 1           1
National Total 133 98 53 18 4 2 308
Membership after the 39th general election is shown below:
Province Cons. Lib. BQ NDP Ind. Vacant Total
Alberta 28           28
British Columbia 18 8   10     36
Prince Edward Island   4         4
Manitoba 8 3   3     14
New Brunswick 3 6   1     10
Nova Scotia 3 6   2     11
Ontario 40 54   12     106
Quebec 10 13 51   1   75
Saskatchewan 12 2         14
Newfoundland and Labrador 3 4         7
Nunavut   1         1
Northwest Territories       1     1
Yukon   1         1
National Total 125 102 51 29 1   308

For a more detailed breakdown of membership in the Commons, please consult the Parliament of Canada Web site under "Current Parliamentarians."

Period of the Report

April 1, 2005-March 31, 2006

This report summarizes activities in the period corresponding to the standard government fiscal year.

Parliamentary Sessions Covered in this Period

1st session, 38th Parliament

(partial, March 2005 - November 2005)

Key Dates

November 29, 2005 - 38th Parliament dissolved

January 23, 2006 - 39th general election held

Total number of sitting days

2005-2006: 84 days

How to Find Your Member of Parliament

Canadians can use their postal code to identify their Member of Parliament on the Parliament of Canada Web site. This site also offers information about Members and their work. Fold-out inserts in the centre of this report show photographs of the Members who were elected to Canada's 38th and 39th Parliaments.

A Closer Look at Members of Parliament

The Members of the House of the Commons are as diverse as the people they represent. Seated behind the desks in the Commons Chamber are men and women from many cultural backgrounds, with a wide variety of skills and experience.

The expertise that Members bring to their work spans generations. During the 38th Parliament, the average age of Members was 51, with the youngest Member being 25 and the oldest 73. Figures during the 39th Parliament are almost identical: the average age is 51, with the youngest Member being 26 and the oldest 72.

Members of Parliament have experience in a wide variety of fields, including law, business, agriculture, journalism, education, religion, economics and administration. For specific information about the occupation of Members from the current and past Parliaments, please visit the Parliament of Canada Web site under "Current Parliamentarians."

The 38th Parliament had the most female Members ever elected - 65 seats were held by women. That number decreased slightly to 64 in the 39th Parliament. Membership in the House includes the Inuit, Métis and First Nations peoples of North America as well as the many nationalities who have made Canada their home. Over the past two Parliaments, approximately 12 percent of Members were born outside Canada in countries such as Greece, Italy, China, India, the United Kingdom, the United States, Tanzania, and Trinidad and Tobago.