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House of Commons Procedure and Practice

Second Edition, 2009

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Before a sitting commences, a ceremonial procession known as the Speaker’s Parade makes its way from the Speaker’s chambers along the Hall of Honour to the House of Commons Chamber. The procession is led by the Sergeant‑at‑Arms, or his or her deputy, bearing the Mace, followed by the Speaker, a page carrying the daily prayer, the Clerk of the House and other Table Officers. As the Parade enters the Chamber, Members rise while the Speaker makes his or her way to the Chair. The Sergeant‑at‑Arms pauses at the end of the Table until the Speaker has taken the Chair, then places the Mace on the Table, bows and takes a seat at the Bar of the House. Once satisfied that a quorum is present, the Speaker reads the prayer and opens the sitting.[2]

In the absence of the Speaker, the Presiding Officer for the sitting takes the Speaker’s place in the Parade.[3] Once the Presiding Officer has entered the Chamber, the Clerk will inform the House of the unavoidable absence of the Speaker and the Presiding Officer will then take the Chair as Speaker. When a quorum is present, the Chair Occupant will then read the prayer[4] and open the sitting.

At the end of a sitting, the Speaker or the Presiding Officer adjourns the House and then exits the Chamber, this time through the doors at the rear of the Chair, preceded by the Sergeant‑at‑Arms, or his or her deputy, bearing the Mace.

[2] On Wednesdays, Members sing the national anthem at the opening of the sitting. For further information on this practice, see Chapter 10, “The Daily Program”.

[3] Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1, s. 43(1); Standing Order 8(1). The Presiding Officer would be either the Deputy Speaker, the Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole or the Assistant Deputy Chair of Committees of the Whole.

[4] For further information on the prayer, see Chapter 10, “The Daily Program”.

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