House of Commons Procedure and Practice
Edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
2000 EditionMore information …

2. Parliaments and Ministries

In the United States, president and Congress can be locked in fruitless combat for years on end. In Canada, the government and the House of Commons cannot be at odds for more than a few weeks at a time. If they differ on any matter of importance, then, promptly, there is either a new government or a new House of Commons.

Eugene A. Forsey
(How Canadians Govern Themselves, 3rd ed., p. 26)


he relationship between the House of Commons and the executive can affect both the lifespan of a Ministry and the duration of a Parliament. The end of a Ministry always has an impact on the proceedings of the House of Commons; the consequences may range from the simple interruption of a sitting to the dissolution of a Parliament. It is from that perspective that any procedural events leading to or brought about by the end of a Ministry are examined, whether the end is triggered by death, by resignation following a defeat in a general election, by resignation due to the loss of confidence in the House of Commons, by resignation for other reasons, or by dismissal.

Please note —

As the rules and practices of the House of Commons are subject to change, users should remember that this edition of Procedure and Practice was published in January 2000. Standing Order changes adopted since then, as well as other changes in practice, are not reflected in the text. The Appendices to the book, however, have been updated and now include information up to the end of the 38th Parliament in November 2005.

To confirm current rules and practice, please consult the latest version of the Standing Orders on the Parliament of Canada Web site.

For further information about the procedures of the House of Commons, please contact the Table Research Branch at (613) 996-3611 or by e-mail at