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Building on the Past to Shape the Future: The House of Commons

The House of Commons is the official meeting place for representatives of the Canadian people. Members of Parliament come together in the Chamber, in committee rooms, in caucus rooms and in Members' offices on Parliament Hill and in constituencies. They discuss national and local issues, propose and debate laws, and hear and reflect upon input from experts and individual citizens. And from this home base, they look outward to represent Canada internationally.

The responsibilities of Members of Parliament fall into five areas:

Chamber activities-The magnificent green-carpeted Chamber is where Members debate and vote on legislation, present documents and petitions, ask or respond to questions and raise issues of importance to electors.

Committee work-Groups of Members form the various committees of the House to investigate current issues, study proposed new laws and policies, and receive input from experts and concerned citizens about matters of importance to Canada.

Caucus activities-Almost all Members belong to a recognized political party. Each party has staff who provide research and other support to caucus, helping Members carry out their duties in the Chamber and in committees. Each party holds regular caucus meetings where they discuss party policies and parliamentary strategy.

Helping constituents-Members' constituents contact them when they want to discuss matters of concern or when they need help with federal programs and services. Members usually return to their constituencies for one week every month to make themselves available to constituents, and spend longer periods in their ridings over the summer and from late December through late January.

Representing Canada- In their role of promoting democratic institutions and strengthening ties with other countries, Members represent Canada internationally and receive visitors from abroad.

Party Membership

Most Members of Parliament belong to one of four recognized political parties. Listed alphabetically, these parties are the Bloc Québécois, the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party. Members may also sit as independents.

Our Members of Parliament

Canadians elect people from many different walks of life to represent them in the House of Commons. Members of Parliament have diverse professions and personal backgrounds and bring a wealth of experience and expertise to the House. For example, the current Parliament includes people who are knowledgeable in business, education, law, journalism, farming, engineering, the arts, medicine and labour.

Members of Parliament

Two foldout inserts in the centre of this report show Members elected to the 39th Parliament and the 40th Parliament.

Who is Your Member?

If you are not certain who your Member of Parliament is, visit the Parliament of Canada Web site at and enter your postal code in the space provided.

Find Out More

The parliamentary Web site has a search feature you can use to learn demographic information about Members as well as obtain a biographical profile of each Member. Find it at

Period of This Report

April 1, 2008-March 31, 2009 Total number of sittingdays: 99

Party Standings in the House of Commons as of March 31, 2009
Province/Territory CPC Lib. BQ NDP Ind. Vacant Total
Alberta 27     1     28
British Columbia 22 5   9     36
Manitoba 9 1   4     14
New Brunswick 6 3   1     10
Newfoundland and Labrador   6   1     7
Northwest Territories       1     1
Nova Scotia 3 5   2 1   11
Nunavut 1           1
Ontario 51 38   17     106
Prince Edward Island 1 3         4
Quebec 10 14 49 1 1   75
Saskatchewan 13 1         14
Yukon   1         1
National Total 143 77 49 37 2 0 308
Facts About Members
  39th 40th
Average age 54 52
Youngest Member 29 21
Oldest Member 75 71
Number of Members elected for the first time 70 68
Number of seats in the House of Commons 308 308
Number of seats held by women 65 68
Number of seats held by Members born outside of Canada 42 36
Number of seats held by Members of Inuit, Métis or First Nations origin 5 5
Number of seats held by Members from four most prevalent occupations    
Businessman/business woman 78 72


49 51


38 46


28 33

Members come from many different geographical and cultural backgrounds. Not only do they represent every geographical area of Canada, they also bring a variety of cultural heritages to the House. The membership of the House includes five representatives of the Inuit, Métis and First Nations people of Canada. Many Members were born outside Canada, in countries as varied as the United Kingdom, Tanzania, Haiti, Greece, India, Vietnam, Italy, China and Portugal. Of the 308 Members of the 40th Parliament, 11 percent were born abroad.

The average age of Members of the 40th Parliament is 52 years, with the youngest being 21 and the oldest 71. At the dissolution of the 39th Parliament, women held 21 percent of the 308 seats in the House of Commons. That number increased to 22 percent in the 40th Parliament.

House of Commons

House of Commons

1 Speaker; 2 Pages; 3 Government Members*; 4 Opposition Members*; 5 Prime Minister;
6 Leader of the Official Opposition; 7 Clerk and Table Officers; 8 Mace;
9 Proceedings and Verification Officers; 10 Sergeant-at-Arms; 11 The Bar; 12 Interpreters;
13 Press Gallery; 14 Public Gallery; 15 Officials' Gallery; 16 Leader of the Opposition's Gallery;
17 Opposition Members' Gallery; 18 Government Members' Gallery; 19 Speaker's Gallery;
20 Senate Gallery; 21 T.V. Cameras; 22 Diplomatic Gallery.

* Depending on the number of MPs elected from each political party, government Members may be seated on the opposite side of the Chamber with opposition Members (or vice versa).


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