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The House of Commons: Report to Canadians 2011

Our House is Open

Photo of Peace Tower and East Block

The House of Commons is not just where the business of the nation is conducted, it is also an attraction for visitors from across the country and around the world. Last year, more than 337,000 people passed through the arched entranceway under the Peace Tower to get a look inside the majestic Centre Block, and many international dignitaries visited as part of Canada’s engagement with the world.


A House for Everyone

The historical significance of the Parliament Buildings makes them not only a favourite destination of visitors to Ottawa but also a place to celebrate national occasions like Canada Day. Last year, more than 100,000 people gathered on the Hill and in the surrounding streets to greet Her Majesty the Queen of England and His Royal Highness, Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, during their Royal Visit on July 1st.

Welcoming the World

By participating in international conferences, Members of Parliament are able to share their ideas and experiences with counterparts from other nations. Following Canada’s hosting of the G8 and G20 summits in June 2010, the Parliament of Canada held two complementary parliamentary sessions in Ottawa: first, the inaugural G20 Speakers’ Consultation for Presiding Officers of the Upper and Unicameral Houses of the G20 from September 2nd to 5th, hosted by the Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker of the Senate; and, one week later, the Ninth Meeting of the Speakers of the Lower Houses of the G8, hosted by the Speaker of the House. The House Administration worked hard to ensure the success of both meetings. It was with particular pride that Speaker Milliken hosted his G8 counterparts given that he had first welcomed them in 2002 at the group’s inaugural meeting.

Sharing our Experiences

The Parliamentary Officers’ Study Program—a collaboration between the Senate, House of Commons and Library of Parliament—gives senior staff from foreign legislatures the opportunity to learn about Canada’s procedural and administrative practices. To further extend the value the Parliament of Canada offers the world—and because of the waiting list of eager participants—plans were made to expand the program from two to three sessions per year.

On the World Stage — Highlights from 2010–2011

Whether welcoming visitors to the House of Commons or participating in delegations to foreign legislatures and international conferences, Members of Parliament play an active role in representing our country throughout the world.

The Speaker of the House and fellow Members of Parliament are often invited to discuss issues and strengthen relationships with colleagues in other parliaments. Last year, the Speaker visited a number of legislatures, including those of Ecuador, Chile, Serbia, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Kuwait. Parliamentary delegations also attended a number of conferences in 2010–2011, among them the Third World Conference of Speakers of Parliament held in Geneva, Switzerland, and the 17th Canada-Mexico Interparliamentary Meeting in Mexico City.

As part of their respective roles, the Speakers of the Senate and the House also maintain liaison with foreign dignitaries and the diplomatic community–for example, by receiving calls from arriving and departing ambassadors to Canada. The Speaker of the House last year received 71 courtesy calls.

Photo of Géraldine Lavoie, employee of the House of Commons

“Of course it is our House! Every wall, every piece of furniture, every column reflects our origins and our history. It is the most beautiful House in Canada.”

– Géraldine Lavoie
Language Teacher
Language Training and Assessment Centre
Human Resources, Corporate Planning and Communications Services


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