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House of Commons Procedure and Practice

Second Edition, 2009

 
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After a Member’s election certificate has been received by the Clerk of the House and he or she has sworn the oath of allegiance or made an affirmation and signed the Test Roll, the Member is ready to take his or her seat in the Chamber. Members, whether they be newly elected or not, are not formally introduced to the House at the opening of a new Parliament. Customarily, only Members elected to the House in by‑elections receive a formal introduction to the House.[257] The introduction of a Member is ceremonial[258] and a convention not mandated by any statute or Standing Order of the House of Commons.[259] The right of a Member to sit and vote in the House is in no way affected if an introduction does not take place.[260]

Introductions typically are done at the beginning of a sitting or before Question Period. When a Member is to be introduced, the Speaker begins by advising the House: “I have the honour to inform the House that the Clerk of the House has received from the Chief Electoral Officer a certificate of the election and return of (Member’s name), Member for the electoral riding of (Member’s riding)”. The Member, escorted by two Members of the House (normally the leader of the Member’s party and the senior party representative from his or her province), is then ushered from the Bar of the House up the centre aisle of the Chamber to the Table.[261] At this point, the party leader will state: “Mr. (Madam) Speaker, I have the honour to present to you (Member’s name), Member for the Electoral District of (Member’s riding), who has taken the oath (or made an affirmation), signed the Roll and now claims the right to take his (her) seat”. The Speaker directs: “Let the Member take his (her) seat”. The Member then approaches the Chair and exchanges greetings with the Speaker. The Member is directed, by the party whip, to his or her seat. If other Members are to be introduced during the same sitting, the process is repeated.[262] Customarily, if the Member being introduced is a party leader, he or she is escorted by two leading Members of the party and the House allows the other party leaders to offer some brief words of welcome.[263]



[257] Bourinot, 4th ed., pp. 149‑53. For examples of introductions, see Debates, February 22, 1995, p. 9941; April 21, 1998, p. 5901; June 6, 2005, p. 6657; December 12, 2006, p. 5982; March 31, 2008, p. 4242. In a departure from this tradition, a newly-elected Member from the Northwest Territories was formally introduced to the House on the fourth sitting day of the First Session of the Thirty‑Fourth Parliament. Because the House had come back quickly after a general election, the Member’s election return had not arrived at the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer in time for the opening (Debates, December 15, 1988, pp. 92‑3). In 1980, when the election return of another Member from the Northwest Territories was received late, the Member was not introduced in the House, although the notice of the election return was indicated in the Journals (April 18, 1980, p. 47). In 1989, on the opening day of the Second Session of the Thirty‑Fourth Parliament, the Speaker informed the House that the Clerk had received a substitute return of election. The Member was subsequently introduced in the House (Journals, April 3, 1989, pp. 2‑3, Debates, p. 1).

[258] This is a very old practice dating back to the seventeenth century in England (Hatsell, J., Precedents of Proceedings in the House of Commons, Vol. II, South Hackensack, New Jersey: Rothman Reprints Inc., 1971 (reprint of 4th ed., 1818), p. 85).

[259] Beauchesne, 4th ed., p. 17.

[260] In 1878, Speaker Anglin resigned his seat between sessions. He was re‑elected in a by‑election held before the new session began. When the new session opened, Mr. Anglin, along with several other Members, took the oath, signed the Roll and was in his seat for the election of the Speaker. When Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie moved that Mr. Anglin be elected Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition, Sir John A. Macdonald, protested the validity of the proceeding, claiming that Mr. Anglin had not been introduced to the House and could not be introduced until a Speaker had been elected and, thus, Mr. Anglin was not a Member and could not be elected Speaker. Mr. Mackenzie contended that, contrary to British practice, the practice in Canada had been that once a Member had been sworn in and signed the Roll, he was entitled to enter the House and take his seat. This view prevailed and the motion to elect Mr. Anglin was adopted shortly thereafter (Debates, February 7, 1878, pp. 2‑12).

[261] In the case of an independent Member, Members of one of the opposition parties assume the ceremonial duties.

[262] The Members have either been introduced in alphabetical order (see, for example, Debates, April 15, 1996, p. 1461; May 21, 2002, pp. 11554-5; September 15, 2003, pp. 7330-1) or by party (see, for example, Debates, November 29, 1999, p. 1865; October 16, 2007, p. 1).

[263] See, for example, Debates, February 20, 1969, pp. 5741‑3; September 12, 1983, pp. 26984‑6; January 15, 1991, pp. 16981-3; September 19, 2000, pp. 8365-8 (two party leaders introduced the same day); May 21, 2002, pp. 11555-6.

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