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Making a Difference

Questions and Answers for the 38th Parliament

Members of Parliament and Canadians can count on timely, accurate information from the Library of Parliament. The Library's Information Service can be reached toll-free at 1-866-599-4999.

Requests for Information: 52,400

Documents distributed: 314,500

Visiting Parliament Hill

The Library of Parliament's tours and interpretive programs introduce Canadians and people from around the world to the history and activities of Canada's Parliament.

Total Centre Block Tours: 11,841
(354,670 visitors)

Total East Block Tours: 1,294
(13,455 visitors)

Total school group visits to Centre Block: 1,751
(65,183 visitors)

Total visitors to Peace Tower and Memorial Chamber: 247,168

Serving their Constituents

Members represent constituents' views and serve their interests in the Chamber, caucus and committee. They meet with constituents who have travelled to Ottawa and, when in the riding, Members talk to constituents about their concerns and attend a wide variety of local events. Members also help constituents in their dealings with the federal government on such matters as visas and passports, employment insurance and taxation.

Members are assisted in their work by their staff on Parliament Hill and in their constituency offices. Members from large or densely populated ridings may have more than one constituency office. High-speed Internet connections and other modern technology enable staff to work closely and stay on top of issues.

There are many ways for Canadians to reach their Member of Parliament, such as by writing postage-free, or contacting them by phone, e-mail or fax. The Parliament of Canada Web site features contact information for all Members of Parliament. Many Members offer toll-free telephone lines for their constituents, and many have Web sites providing information and answers to constituents' frequently asked questions.

Members also send regular mailings to constituents to inform them of their activities.

Presenting Petitions in the House of Commons

Members can present petitions, on behalf of their constituents or other persons, to raise issues of public interest, or to ask Parliament to take action. Under the rules of the House of Commons, the government must table a response to a petition. In 2005-2006, 1,211 petitions and 1,576 government responses were tabled in the House (the second number is higher because some of these responses concerned petitions tabled at the start of the 38th Parliament in the previous fiscal year). The following list shows the top issues presented in the form of petitions:

  • marriage - 793 petitions
  • health (autism) - 119 petitions
  • Canada Post - 69 petitions
  • pornography - 21 petitions
  • sexual exploitation of minors - 17 petitions

Bringing Parliament to Canadians

Opportunities for Youth

Young Canadians have a great opportunity to learn about Parliament first-hand by working as House of Commons pages or parliamentary guides. Each year, the House of Commons hires 40 students to serve as pages, and the Library of Parliament hires another 40 summer students to provide guided tours of Parliament. Application information is available on the Parliament of Canada Web site.

Technology brings the House of Commons to television and computer screens across the country, enabling Canadians to watch the House from their homes, their offices and their classrooms. The House began broadcasting its proceedings nearly 30 years ago and, today, about one million Canadians tune into Chamber and committee activities each week on the Cable Public Affairs Channel, or CPAC. In the last fiscal year, CPAC broadcast about 1,200 hours of Chamber proceedings and 500 hours of committee proceedings.

The Parliament of Canada Web site is another popular source of facts about the Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament. Visitors can quickly find information on Members' activities, bills under consideration, committee activities, guided tours, and parliamentary activities. In 2005-2006, the site received close to 10 million visits.

ParlVU, the Webcast service maintained by the House, also carries live proceedings of the Commons, televised House of Commons committee meetings and live audio of all other House of Commons committee meetings that are open to the public. The ParlVU service allows Canadians to view or hear Members of the House of Commons whenever they meet to deliberate.

Information for Members and the Public

The central column in Confederation Hall

The central column in Confederation Hall, located at the main entrance to Parliament's Centre Block, commemorates the 50th anniversary of Confederation.

Photo: © Library of Parliament/Mone Photography

The Library of Parliament provides valuable assistance in serving Members of Parliament and Canadians. Library staff respond to hundreds of requests for information and reference services daily from Members' offices, parliamentary committees and associations, and parliamentary officials. The Library also employs specialists in law, economics and other fields to provide research and analysis services regarding legislation and public policy issues.

Through its public programs, the Library provides Canadians with information and services concerning Parliament, such as programs and products for teachers; print and electronic publications; guided tours; interpretive exhibits; and on-site and e-commerce boutiques.