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

11. Questions

If the essence of Parliament is Government accountability, then surely the essence of accountability is the Question Period in the Canadian House of Commons.

Speaker James Jerome
(Mr. Speaker, p. 51)


he right to seek information from the Ministry of the day and the right to hold that Ministry accountable are recognized as two of the fundamental principles of parliamentary government. Members exercise these rights principally by asking questions in the House. The importance of questions within the parliamentary system cannot be overemphasized, and the search for or clarification of information through questioning is a vital aspect of the duties undertaken by individual Members. [1]  Questions may be asked orally without notice or be submitted in writing after due notice.

Each sitting day, time is set aside for the purpose of asking oral questions. This constitutes a unique and distinct part of the daily program of the House. Members who are not satisfied with the answer they receive to an oral question may pursue the matter at greater length during the Adjournment Proceedings, which occur every day except Friday at the end of the sitting.

Written questions, usually more detailed than oral questions, appear on the Order Paper after due notice. Responses are provided during Routine Proceedings under the rubric “Questions on the Order Paper”.

This chapter will outline the rules and practices of the House regarding oral and written questions, addressing the authority for each, their traditions and unique aspects, the current guidelines under which the House functions, and the role of the Speaker in these matters.

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