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In Touch with Canadians

At Work for Constituents

Members represent their constituents' views and serve their interests in the Chamber, caucus and committees. They help constituents in their dealings with the federal government on such matters as visas and passports, employment insurance and taxation. They also attend a wide variety of local events in their ridings.

MPs 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. Technology enables staff to work closely together regardless of geographic location and to stay on top of issues.

There are many ways for Canadians to reach their Members of Parliament; these include postage-free correspondence or contact by telephone, e-mail or fax. The Parliament of Canada Web site lists contact information for all MPs. Many offer toll-free telephone lines for their constituents, and many have Web sites providing information and answers to questions frequently asked by constituents. Members also send out mailings to inform constituents of their activities.

Presenting Petitions

Members can present petitions on behalf of their constituents or other Canadians, to address 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 each petition. In 2006-2007, there were 1,351 petitions presented in the House. The following is a list of the top issues presented in the form of petitions:

  • the automobile industry
  • marriage
  • immigration
  • national child-care program
  • sexual exploitation of minors

Focus on Committees

Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs
and International Development

Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development

Photo: © House of Commons

This Committee studies and reports on subjects related to Canadian foreign and development policy, international affairs and international organizations. Committee members are shown here on a recent trip to Norway. Left to right: Angela Crandall (clerk of the Committee), Alexa McDonough M.P., Peter Goldring M.P., Deepak Obhrai M.P., (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs), Omar Alghabra M.P., Kevin Sorenson M.P. (Chair of the Committee), Jillian Stirk, Canada's Ambassador to Norway, Diane Bourgeois M.P. and Hélène Couture-MacTavish (interpreter).

Tuning into Parliament

Canadians can watch the activities of the House and its committees on television and via the Internet. The House inaugurated television broadcasts of its proceedings nearly 30 years ago, and today, approximately one million Canadians tune in each week to the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC). During the last year, CPAC broadcast about 1,200 hours of Chamber proceedings.

ParlVU, the Webcast service maintained by the House, also carries live proceedings of the Commons, televised committee meetings and live audio of all other House of Commons committee meetings that are open to the public.

The Parliament of Canada Web site (www.parl.gc.ca) is a source of information about the Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament. Visitors can quickly locate information on Members' activities, bills under consideration, committee activities, and guided tours. In 2006-2007, close to 7.4 million Internet users visited the site.

Providing Information Services

The Library of Parliament provides valuable assistance to the Senate, the House of Commons 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.

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.

Getting the Facts

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                    50,678

Documents distributed                     289,525

Discover Parliament Hill

Canadian and international visitors alike learn about Parliament through the Library of Parliament's tours and interpretive programs.

Total Centre Block tours

12,184 (372,000 visitors)

Total East Block tours

1,281 (11,355 visitors)

Total school group visits to Centre Block

1,721 (62,881 visitors)

Total visitors to Peace Tower and Memorial Chamber

261,344

Youth Employment Opportunities

Young Canadians can 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 students in the summer to provide guided tours of Parliament. Other summer opportunities are available for students interested in learning about the House of Commons while they gain administrative experience. See the Parliament of Canada Web site for application information.

Focus on Committees

Talking to House of Commons Committees

Witnesses enable committee members to better understand the topics they are studying. Most witnesses are either Cabinet Ministers, public servants, experts in a particular field, representatives of groups and organizations, or private individuals. Committees advertise their hearings in newspapers or on the Committees Web site. Anyone interested in submitting a brief or making an appearance can contact the clerk of the committee.

For each study, the committee may decide how long it will spend hearing witnesses, how many witnesses it will hear and which witnesses will appear. Once the committee's witness list is established, the committee clerk gets in touch with the chosen witnesses to schedule their appearances. Witnesses are sometimes heard in videoconference.