Skip to main content Start of content

House of Commons Procedure and Practice

Second Edition, 2009

 
Search Term(s): Skip to Content 

 

 

The business of supply is the process by which the government asks Parliament to appropriate the funds required to meet its financial obligations and to implement programs already approved by Parliament. The Crown, acting on the advice of its responsible Ministers, transmits to the House of Commons the government’s projected annual expenditures, or “estimates”, for parliamentary scrutiny and approval. The House of Commons has sole authority to grant the “supplies” needed to satisfy the government’s demands. All financial legislation (which includes all government expenditures) must originate in the House of Commons.[104] Once supply is granted, the government can draw on the Consolidated Revenue Fund to meet its financial obligations.[105]

*   Historical Perspective

The supply procedures established in 1867 remained basically unchanged for the first hundred years following Confederation. Deriving from a long‑standing rule of the British House of Commons,[106] the business of supply was considered in a Committee of the Whole House, called the Committee of Supply.[107]

From Confederation to 1968

Prior to 1968, the supply proceedings consisted of the process of entering into Committee of Supply and the study of the annual estimates or government spending proposals in Committee of Supply. Before the Committee of Supply could begin its work, the Finance Minister had to table the estimates along with the message from the Governor General signifying the recommendation of the Crown.[108] The Minister then moved that the message and recommendation, together with the estimates, be referred to the Committee of Supply.[109]

When the Order of the Day was read for the House to resolve itself into the Committee of Supply,[110] the motion, “That the Speaker do now leave the Chair” was proposed to the House.[111] This initiated the first phase of the supply proceedings; it was an opportunity for Members to debate and, if they chose, amend the motion that the Speaker leave the Chair. The rules pertaining to relevance were relaxed and Members used amendments to the motion as the mechanism to raise their issues and debate them in the House. In addition, the opposition could use the threat of delaying supply to obtain concessions from the executive. The practice of allowing every description of amendment to be moved,[112] coupled with great latitude permitted in the debate and the lack of time limits, reflected the ancient tenet of parliamentary government which held that the Crown should respond to the grievances of the people before the people granted supply.[113]

Once having agreed to the motion for the Speaker to leave the Chair, the House was then sitting as the Committee of Supply. Each estimate was considered as a separate resolution or motion, “that a certain sum be granted to Her Majesty for …”. Amendments to the motion were permitted and no time limits were placed on the debate. If decided in the affirmative, the resolutions were reported to the House for its concurrence. Reports from the Committee of Supply were usually not received or taken up by the House on the same day they were reported, but were ordered to be received at a subsequent sitting of the House. Upon reporting, the Committee requested leave “to sit again”, without which permission the Committee of Supply, as an entity, would have ceased to exist.[114]

When the Order of the Day was read to report the resolutions approved in Committee, a formal motion for their first reading was proposed. The motion was purely a formality and was never debated or amended. If the House agreed, each resolution was then read separately a second time, after which the Speaker put the question for concurrence. Both the debate and any amendment had to be relevant to the proposed resolution.[115]

When all the estimates had passed through the Committee of Supply, the Finance Minister would move a motion for the House to resolve into the Committee of Ways and Means to consider resolutions to authorize the necessary withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.[116] Again, each sum was proposed as a separate resolution, considered and, if agreed to, reported to the House. Once the resolutions had been read a second time, they formed the basis for the appropriation or supply bill, which set aside (or appropriated) from the Consolidated Revenue Fund the amounts required to fund the programs and activities approved in the estimates. Supply bills were often introduced and passed through two or more legislative stages in a single day.[117] Once it had been passed by the House, the supply bill was sent to the Senate where it was given three readings and passed before being returned to the House.

The debate on the motion “That the Speaker do now leave the Chair” often resulted in supply being considered very late in the session, and often late at night. Consequently, by the time the estimates were actually discussed in the Committee, they tended to be given relatively short examination, provoking frequent criticism of the lack of effective parliamentary oversight of government expenditure.[118]

In 1913, the Standing Orders of the House were modified: henceforth, when the order for the House to go into the Committee of Supply was called on Thursday and Friday, the motion “That the Speaker do now leave the Chair” would be deemed adopted without question put.[119] This change represented the first encroachment on the Members’ previously unfettered right to air grievances before considering the government’s financial requirements. The effect of the adoption of the change was that from 1913 to 1955 only 132 amendments to the motion were moved, while in the period 1867 to 1913, 271 amendments had been moved. By guaranteeing the government at least two days a week on which its financial requirements could be taken up by the House, the new rule introduced the first real constraint on the opposition’s capacity to delay supply. There were no further modifications until 1927[120], when the House agreed to allow a subamendment to the motion for the Speaker to leave the Chair to go into the Committee of Supply or the Committee of Ways and Means when the motion was proposed on a day other than a Thursday or Friday.[121]

Opinion soon began to differ as to whether estimates should continue to be considered in a Committee of the Whole or be referred to a standing committee.[122] In 1955, the House agreed to establish a Special Committee on Estimates.[123] Initially, the Committee lacked the authority to send for persons, papers and records; however, changes to the Standing Orders in 1958 gave the committee the necessary powers.[124]

Additional changes, approved provisionally in 1967, made it possible for standing committees to examine the estimates and limited to four the number of occasions in any session on which the House could debate the motion to go into the Committee of Supply or the Committee of Ways and Means.[125] A maximum of 30 days in each session was allocated for the consideration of the business of supply.[126]

Supply Proceedings Since 1968

In 1968, changes were recommended by the Special Committee on Procedure. The Committee had described supply procedures as “time‑consuming, repetitive and archaic”, claiming they did not permit an effective scrutiny of the estimates, did not provide the House with the means of organizing meaningful debate on pre‑arranged subjects, had failed to preserve effective parliamentary control over expenditures and had failed to guarantee an expeditious decision on appropriation bills. The Committee found that the traditional supply procedures were irrelevant to the realities of government in the present day.[127] The House agreed to alter substantially its financial procedures.[128] The Committee of Supply was abolished, along with the Committee of Ways and Means. All estimates would be referred now to standing committees before they were taken up in the House. Under the revised rules, the main estimates would be tabled and referred on or before March 1 of each year. Committees were required to report back the estimates, or would be deemed to have reported them back, no later than May 31.[129]

The House agreed to establish, at the beginning of each session, a continuing order for the consideration of supply on the House agenda under Government Orders.[130] Unlike the order for the House to go into the Committee of Supply, which lapsed once the committee had reported the estimates back to the House, the continuing order remains on the agenda as an item of Government Orders and may be taken up at any time at the government’s discretion.

The new rules divided the parliamentary calendar into three periods, during which 25 days would be allotted to the business of supply. Five allotted days were set aside in the supply period ending December 10, seven days in the period ending March 26 and an additional 13 days in the period ending June 30. Opposition or supply motions could be moved only by Members in opposition to the government and could be related to any matter within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada.[131]

In addition, the new rules stipulated that in any period, the opposition could ask that up to two of its allotted day motions be brought to a vote and that these could be designated as votes of non‑confidence in the government. Since the requirement that the executive retain the confidence of the House is a matter of convention, many questioned why votable opposition motions should be termed “no‑confidence” motions.[132] In March 1975, the Standing Orders were provisionally modified so that votes on opposition motions would no longer, ipso facto, be considered an expression of confidence in the government.[133] The provisional rules lapsed at the beginning of the following session and the term “no‑confidence” found its way back into the 1977 version of the Standing Orders. Amendments to the Standing Orders in June 1985 again removed the non‑confidence provision from the rules on opposition motions.[134]

In February 1986, provision was made for the Leader of the Opposition to extend the committee consideration of the main estimates of one department or agency beyond the May 31 deadline, for a period not exceeding 10 further sitting days.[135] In addition, the new rules set aside the last allotted day in the supply period ending June 30 to debate the motion to concur in the main estimates, instead of the usual opposition motion, and extended the sitting hours on that day until 10:00 p.m. In 1991, the end date for that period was changed to June 23 and, as a result of a reduction of the number of sittings days in the year, the total number of allotted days over a year was reduced from 25 to 20.[136] As well, the maximum number of votable motions in each of the supply periods was reduced from four to three.[137] Provision was also made to increase or decrease the number of allotted days in a supply period in relation to the total number of sitting days in the period,[138] to limit the number of allotted days falling on Wednesday and Friday,[139] and to provide that, concurrent with consideration of the main estimates for the current fiscal year, each standing committee was authorized to consider and report on the future expenditure priorities for the subsequent fiscal year of the department and agencies for which it was responsible.[140]

In June 1998, the total number of supply days was increased from 20 to 21, with seven to be held in each of the three supply periods. Another amendment provided that a total of 14 opposition motions could be votable in the course of a year, with no limit on the number of votable motions in each period. Finally, there was a major change with respect to the last supply day in June. The House would now debate an opposition motion until 6:30 p.m. on that day, then proceed to consider the estimates. If the opposition motion was votable, the rule provided that the division would be deferred until 10:00 p.m.[141]

In October 2001, the House adopted major amendments to the Standing Orders.[142] First, the amendments provided that henceforth the main and supplementary estimates would be deemed referred to the appropriate standing committees following their tabling in the House, as opposed to referral by a votable motion.[143] The amendments then provided that consideration of some of the main estimates could take place in the House itself in a Committee of the Whole. The new rule provided that the Leader of the Official Opposition could consult with the leaders of other opposition parties and, not later than May 1, could then select the main estimates of two named departments or agencies to be considered in Committee of the Whole for a period not exceeding five hours. Such consideration would take place at the conclusion of Adjournment Proceedings on the appointed day (or at the conclusion of Private Members’ Business on a Friday).[144]

A third amendment provided that written notice of an opposition motion would be filed not later than one hour prior to the opening of the sitting on the day preceding the allotted day. Following prayers, the Speaker would read the text of the motion to be proposed on the allotted day, and indicate whether the motion would come to a vote.[145] A final change provided that amendments to supply day motions could only be moved, if found to be otherwise in order, with the consent of the mover of the motion.[146]

In May 2002, the House revised its list of standing committees, splitting the Standing Committee on Transport and Government Operations into two separate committees.[147] The new Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates was given a wide-ranging mandate that includes, among other matters, the review of and report on the effectiveness, management and operation of the central departments and agencies, together with their operational and expenditure plans; the review of estimates for programs delivered by more than one department or agency; the review of the effectiveness and management of activities relating to the use of new and emerging information and communications technologies by the government; and the review of and report on the process for considering the estimates and supply, including the format and content of estimates documents prepared by the government.[148] Furthermore, the Committee was empowered under the Standing Orders to amend votes that had been referred to other standing committees, in coordination with them,[149] namely, those relating to federal departments and central agencies, to the government’s use of new and emerging information and communications technologies, and to specific operational and expenditure items across all government departments and agencies.

In September 2003, further amendments to the Standing Orders were adopted with respect to supply proceedings.[150] First, the number of hours devoted to consideration of the main estimates of the two named departments or agencies in Committee of the Whole was decreased from five hours to four hours.[151] Second, time limits were set with respect to speeches and questions during such consideration. Each Member was restricted to no more than 15 minutes, of which a maximum of 10 minutes could be for debate. The Member, when recognized, could use the 15-minute period for both a speech and for posing questions to the Minister of the Crown or a Parliamentary Secretary acting on his or her behalf. When the Member was recognized, he or she was to indicate how the 15-minute period was to be apportioned.[152] Finally, provision was made for written notice of an opposition motion to be filed with the Clerk of the House during an adjournment of the House when the first or second sitting day following such an adjournment was designated as an allotted day. This notice was to be filed by the Thursday prior to the return of the House.[153]

In February 2005, as part of a group of Standing Order amendments, the House agreed, by unanimous consent, to increase the number of allotted days in the supply period ending June 23 from seven to eight days, thus increasing the total number of allotted days to 22.[154] Notice for opposition motions was set at 48 hours, rather than one hour before the opening of the previous sitting.[155] At the same time, all opposition motions were made votable, rather than a specific number per year, unless the sponsor of such a motion designated it as non-votable.[156]

*   The Continuing Order for Supply

In the Speech from the Throne, which begins each new session of Parliament, the Governor General traditionally advises Members of the House of Commons that they will be asked to appropriate (approve the spending of) the funds required to carry on the services and payments authorized by Parliament.[157]

Among its first items of business after the Speech from the Throne, the House considers a motion usually proposed by the Minister serving as President of the Treasury Board: “That the business of supply be considered at the next sitting of the House”.[158] By long‑established practice, the motion is not debatable and is traditionally decided without dissent. Once agreed to, the motion is an order of the House to add the business of supply on the Order Paper for the remainder of the session.[159] This process has the effect of establishing a continuing order of the day for the purposes of considering supply, which enables the government to call supply on any sitting day, within the framework laid out in the Standing Orders.

The business of supply consists of the consideration of motions:

*       to concur in interim supply;

*       to concur in main and supplementary estimates;

*       to restore or reinstate any item in the estimates;

*       to introduce or pass at all stages any bill or bills based on the estimates; and

*       to be proposed by the opposition on allotted days.[160]

In any calendar year, 22 days are set aside under the Standing Orders for consideration of the business of supply and, on these days, supply has precedence over all other government business.[161] The business of supply can be divided into a general debate phase and a legislative phase. The general debate phase is taken up with the consideration of opposition motions proposed on allotted days.[162] During the legislative phase, the House considers and votes on the government’s proposed annual spending plans (the main and supplementary estimates)[163] and the legislation (appropriation bills) needed to authorize all consequential withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

*   General Debate Phase

Allotted Days

The setting aside of a specified number of sitting days on which the opposition chooses the subject of debate derives from the tradition which holds that Parliament does not grant supply until the opposition has had an opportunity to demonstrate why it should be refused. Of the 22 days allocated in each annual supply cycle for the House to consider the business of supply, seven days are allotted during the period ending December 10, seven during the period ending March 26 and eight during the period ending June 23. Of these 22 days, no more than one‑fifth may fall on a Wednesday and no more than one‑fifth on a Friday (the shortest sitting days of the week).[164] The 22 days are designated as “allotted days”. On each of these days, the House will debate an opposition motion.[165]

The normal supply cycle can be disrupted by an extended adjournment, a prorogation or a dissolution. In these cases, the number of opposition days in each supply period may be increased or decreased.[166] If the number of sitting days in any supply period is fewer than the number prescribed under the House of Commons calendar, the number of allotted days in that period will be reduced by an amount proportional to the number of sitting days the House stood adjourned. The Speaker will determine and announce to the House the reduction in the number of allotted days for that period.[167] Conversely, should the House sit more than the prescribed number of sitting days, the total number of allotted days will be increased by one day for every five additional days the House sits,[168] excluding the days when the House meets solely for the purpose of granting Royal Assent to a bill, pursuant to Standing Order 28(4).[169] The House may also decide that any unused days from the six days allotted to the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, or from the four days allotted to the budget debate, be added to the number of allotted days in the supply period in which they would have been taken up.[170]

If, in the supply period ending June 23, concurrence is sought in supplementary estimates for the previous fiscal year, a further three sitting days will be allocated in that period for the consideration of a motion to concur in those estimates and for the passage at all stages of the related supply bill.[171] On occasion, changes have been made, with the consent of the House, to the length of a supply period or to the number of allotted days. For example, the House has agreed to extend the length of a supply period;[172] to add supply days;[173] to combine the supply days for two periods,[174] to eliminate one supply day[175] and to transfer unused supply days from one period to the next.[176] The House has also agreed that an allotted day in one supply period be deemed disposed of and one additional allotted day be designated in the subsequent supply period.[177]

*   Designating an Allotted Day

The government designates the days allotted to the consideration of the business of supply.[178] The established practice is for a Minister of the Crown, usually the Government House Leader, to rise in the House and designate a subsequent sitting day as an allotted day;[179] allotted days may also be designated during the “Thursday Statement” on the House business for the following week.[180] Furthermore, the Government House Leader may send a letter to the Speaker designating a subsequent day as an allotted day.[181] However, the date so designated is not binding on the government and may, like the scheduling of any other government order, be revised at any time.[182] The designation is made orally by a Minister, usually the Government House Leader, during a sitting[183] or through a letter to the Speaker saying that a designated day will no longer be an allotted day.[184] If the government fails to designate the prescribed number of allotted days, the remaining days in that period will be designated by default.[185] When the sitting on a day designated as an allotted day ends before the House has reached Orders of the Day, the allotted day has not commenced, and therefore the sitting does not count as one of the days designated for the consideration of an opposition motion.[186] On the other hand, once the order for supply has been called, an allotted day is deemed completed if, subsequently, the proceedings are superseded.[187] If all supply business is exhausted, any other government order can be called.[188]

Opposition Motions

Opposition motions have precedence over all government supply motions on allotted days.[189] However, on the last allotted day for the period ending June 23, at not later than 6:30 p.m., the Speaker interrupts the proceedings on the opposition motion and puts, without further debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of the motion. Any recorded division requested is deferred to the end of the supply proceedings on that day, but not later than 10:00 p.m. Meanwhile, the House proceeds to consider a motion or motions to concur in the main estimates.[190]

Members in opposition to the government may propose motions for debate on any matter falling within the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada;[191] that is, they may express approval or condemnation of the government and government policy. The Standing Orders give Members a very wide scope in proposing opposition motions on supply days and, unless the motion is clearly and undoubtedly irregular (i.e., where the procedural aspect is not open to reasonable argument), the Chair does not intervene.[192]

Concurrence motions on standing committee reports based on estimates may be considered under business of supply on an allotted day.[193] This is equally true for concurrence motions on standing committee reports relating to the expenditure plans and priorities of a government department or agency.[194]

*   Notice

Before an opposition motion can be taken up on an allotted day, a 48‑hour written notice of the motion must be given.[195] The notice must be filed before 6:00 p.m. during a sitting of the House (or before 2:00 p.m. on a Friday). The notice is effective for the sitting day on which it is submitted and appears in the following day’s Notice Paper. The item is transferred to the Order Paper the day after it appears in the Notice Paper.[196]

A Member may put an opposition motion on notice even though an allotted day has not yet been designated.[197] However, a decision by the government not to proceed with a designated allotted day is not in itself a reason for the Chair to remove a notice of an opposition motion from the Order Paper and Notice Paper.[198] It can remain on the Order Paper until it is proceeded with later or withdrawn by its sponsor or the sponsor’s House Leader. Only the sponsor or House Leader can have the motion removed, and the consent of the House to do so is not required.[199]

*   Speaker’s Power to Select

The Standing Orders are silent on the method of apportioning allotted days between the parties, when two or more recognized parties form the opposition. Although the government designates which days shall be used for the business of supply, the opposition parties decide among themselves which party will sponsor the motion.[200] The distribution has reflected the proportion of seats each recognized party occupies in the Chamber. It is not the purview of the Official Opposition to determine unilaterally who can propose a motion on an allotted day.[201] Notices of more than one motion may be given by one or several opposition parties.[202] Where notice of two or more opposition motions appears on the Order Paper for consideration on an allotted day and there is no agreement among the opposition parties as to which shall be taken up, the Speaker must decide which motion shall be given precedence.[203] In deciding, the Speaker is not obliged to give any reason for his or her choice. However, most Speakers usually give a short explanation for their decision, once again usually (but not necessarily) based on the representation of the parties in the House; the distribution of sponsorship to date; fair play towards small parties; the date of notice; the sponsor of the motion; the subject matter; whether or not the motion is votable; and what has happened, by agreement among the parties, in the preceding supply periods.[204]

*   Votable Motions

All opposition motions considered on allotted days may be brought to a vote, unless the sponsor of such a motion informs the Clerk in writing that he or she wants the item designated non-votable.[205] Opposition motions on allotted days have occasionally been agreed to by the House.[206]

*   Proceedings on an Opposition Motion

Proceedings on non‑votable opposition motions expire at the conclusion of the debate or at the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders.[207] However, a motion can be moved to extend the sitting beyond the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.[208] If the debate on the opposition motion concludes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders, the House may then consider other items of supply (opposition motions first) and, following that, any other government order.[209] In the case of votable motions, the Speaker will interrupt the debate 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders and proceed to put, without further debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of the motion.[210]

On supply days, a recorded division on a votable opposition motion may be deferred by the Chief Government Whip or the Chief Opposition Whip, even if the Speaker interrupted proceedings and the bells are scheduled to ring only for a maximum of 15 minutes.[211] In addition, if the motion was sponsored by a Member of a recognized party other than the Official Opposition, the recorded division may also be deferred at the request of the Whip of that party.[212] However, recorded divisions on votable opposition motions on the last allotted day in a supply period cannot be deferred.[213] The only exception is that on the last supply day in the period ending June 23, the vote on an opposition motion is deferred to later that same sitting, after the House has considered motions relating to the main estimates.[214] Recorded divisions on opposition motions are automatically deferred from a Friday to a Monday if Friday is not the last allotted day in the supply period.[215]

The proceedings on a votable opposition motion may continue for more than one allotted day;[216] usually, such proceedings have taken place over two consecutive sitting days where both have been designated together as allotted days.[217] The duration of such proceedings must be stated in the notice respecting the day or days set aside.[218]

The mover of the motion, who is a Member of the opposition, speaks first on a supply day. No Member may speak for more than 20 minutes; a 10‑minute period is also provided after each speech to allow other Members to ask questions and make brief comments.[219] It is often the case that two Members of the same party will agree to share the 20 minutes, with each speaker receiving 10 minutes for the debate and 5 minutes for questions and comments.[220] Moreover, Members may speak only once. On allotted days, the party of the opposition Member sponsoring the motion may be recognized more frequently on debate than otherwise might be warranted, given their relative numbers in the House.

Only one amendment and one subamendment are permitted to opposition motions considered on an allotted day.[221] Amendments which have the effect of providing the basis for an entirely different debate are not in order.[222] When a party has been allocated an allotted day and a subject has been proposed for debate by way of an opposition motion, the day should not be taken away by way of an amendment.[223] The House has consented, despite the rules, to allow amendments which had been ruled inadmissible by the Chair.[224] The House has also permitted an amendment to be withdrawn and replaced with another.[225] Since 2001, an amendment to an opposition motion may only be moved with the consent of the mover of the motion, the purpose being to prevent other political parties from changing the content of the debate (and any future decision of the House) during an opposition day.[226] For the same reason, a subamendment cannot be moved to an opposition motion without the consent of the mover of the motion.

*   Legislative Phase

Main Estimates

The main estimates provide a breakdown, by department and program, of planned government spending for the upcoming fiscal year. The estimates are expressed as a series of “votes”, or resolutions, which summarize the estimated financial requirements in a particular expenditure category, such as operations, capital or grants.[227] The votes are expressed in dollar amounts, the total of which, once agreed to, should satisfy all the budgetary requirements of a department or agency in that category, with the exception of any expenditures provided for under other statutory authority. Each budgetary item, or vote, has two essential components: an amount of money and a destination (a description of what the money will be used for). Should the government wish to change the approved amount or destination of a vote, it must do so either by way of a “supplementary” estimate or by way of new or amending legislation.

The main estimates are presented in three parts. Part I, the Government Expenditure Plan, gives an overview of the government’s projected total expenditures for the new fiscal year. Part II, the Main Estimates, summarizes the budgetary and statutory expenditures for all government departments and agencies for the same period. It also contains an introductory section, which explains the different kinds of votes[228] and other elements making up the estimates, as well as any changes to the content with respect to that found in previous fiscal years. Part II outlines spending according to departments, agencies and programs and contains the proposed wording of the conditions governing spending which Parliament will be asked to approve.[229] The information provided in Part II directly supports the schedule of the related appropriation act. Statutory items are expenditures which have been authorized by legislation other than appropriation acts, i.e., programs which have been provided with a continuing authority to spend and which do not require an annual appropriation from Parliament. They are identified in the estimates with an “S” and are included for information purposes only.[230] Part I is now combined with Part II in the volume known as the “Blue Book,” because of its blue cover.[231]

The form and content of the main estimates have been modified on only four occasions since Confederation: in 1938, 1970, 1981 and, most recently, in 1997.[232] In each instance, the impetus behind the reforms was a desire to improve the quality and utility of the information provided to Members of Parliament. In 1938, the Minister of Finance included in the estimates, for the first time, a breakdown of departmental operating costs by function.[233] Still greater precision was introduced in 1970, when departmental expenditures were linked to programs and activities. An explanatory forward clarifying the technical terms used was added and, for the first time, the Blue Book was printed in bilingual format.[234]

As the scope of the federal government widened and government operations grew increasingly complex, compressing all government expenditure information into a single document became more and more impractical. In 1981, following a comprehensive review of financial management and accountability in the federal government, two new documents were introduced. The old Blue Book became known as Part II, Estimates, and a new Part I and Part III were added.[235] Part I provided an overview of federal spending, along with information about planned future activities which could not be included along with the annual appropriations and statutory spending set down in the Blue Book. Part II continued to list in detail the resources that individual departments and agencies required for the upcoming year. Finally, Part III, the Departmental Expenditure Plan, was a collection of separate books each providing additional details about the programs and activities of a single department or agency. The first Part IIIs were tabled with the 1982‑83 Main Estimates.[236]

In Chapter 6 of the 1992 Annual Report to Parliament, the Auditor General addressed the issue of departmental reporting. It was noted that much of the government’s financial activity was not expressed as spending and, for this reason, not included in the information Members of Parliament used when considering and approving supply.[237] In the view of the Auditor General, information to Parliament should include a description of the organization’s mission, its major lines of business, the way it is structured, the instruments it uses, its strategic targets and objectives for achieving the mission, as well as performance reports on the extent to which these objectives have been met.[238]

In 1997, the House of Commons passed a motion to split what was known as Part III of the main estimates into two documents. Each department or agency would now present a Report on Plans and Priorities and a Departmental Performance Report. The motion also required all departments and agencies to table these reports, on a pilot basis for the 1997‑98 fiscal year, for consideration by the appropriate committees.[239] Beginning in the following fiscal year, the Part IIIs were permanently replaced by the two documents, the Report on Plans and Priorities to be tabled on or before March 31 and the Performance Report to be tabled in the fall.

The Report on Plans and Priorities describes the mandate, mission and strategic objectives for each department and agency (excluding Crown corporations). It provides detailed information about the business line structure, expected results and performance‑measurement strategy, as well as related resource requirements over a three-year period.[240] The reports are tabled in Parliament by the President of the Treasury Board on behalf of the responsible Ministers, generally shortly after the main estimates and are then considered referred to the appropriate standing committees.[241] House standing committees may study and report on the future expenditure plans and priorities of the departments and agencies whose estimates they are considering.[242]

The Performance Reports are individual departmental and agency accounts of achievements, measured against expected results as set out in their Report on Plans and Priorities.[243] Covering the most recently completed fiscal year, performance reports are tabled in Parliament by the President of the Treasury Board on the Ministers’ behalf and considered referred to the appropriate standing committees.[244] The Speaker tables the House of Commons’ Part III equivalent, including a Strategic Outlook, setting out the House Administration’s objectives and commitments to Members at the beginning of each Parliament, and an annual Report to Canadians, summarizing Members’ parliamentary activities over the year and reporting on the Administration’s results and commitments in support of Members and the institution.[245]

Over the past several years, the government, working in conjunction with a number of House committees,[246] sought to enhance parliamentary reporting through a series of reforms aimed at providing parliamentarians with simpler, more integrated information along with useful context and analysis.[247]

The main estimates for an incoming fiscal year must be referred to the standing committees on or before March 1 of the expiring fiscal year.[248] The estimates are presented by a Minister of the Crown, normally the President of the Treasury Board, and are accompanied by a recommendation from the Governor General, which the Speaker reads aloud in the House.[249] The main estimates are deemed referred to the appropriate standing committees as soon as they are tabled.[250]

Interim Supply

Since the fiscal year begins on April 1 and the normal supply cycle only provides for the House to decide on main estimates in June, the government would appear to be without funds for the interim three months. For this reason, the House authorizes an advance on the funds requested in the main estimates to cover the needs of the public service from the start of the new fiscal year to the date on which the appropriation act based on the main estimates of that year is passed. This is known as “interim supply”,[251] a spending authority made available to the government pending approval of the main estimates.

The government must give 48 hours’ notice of a motion setting out in detail the sums of money it will require, expressed in twelfths of the amounts to be voted in the main estimates.[252] Most are three‑twelfths of the total amount, corresponding to the three‑month hiatus between the beginning of the new fiscal year and the final passage of the main estimates, but the government may request more.[253] The motion for interim supply is considered on the last allotted day of the period ending March 26. Concurrence in the motion is followed by the consideration and passage at all stages of an appropriation bill based on interim supply and authorizing the prescribed withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.[254] The granting of interim supply does not necessarily constitute immediate House approval for the programs to which it applies in the main estimates. However, during the examination of the main estimates, neither the House nor its committees can reduce a vote to an amount less than the amount already granted in interim supply.

Supplementary Estimates

Should the amounts voted under the main estimates prove insufficient, or should new funding or a reallocation of funds between already authorized budgetary items be required during a fiscal year, the government may ask Parliament to approve additional expenditures or the reallocations, that it sets out in supplementary estimates. The government may introduce as many sets of supplementary estimates in a year as it deems necessary, although recently the practice has been to submit only two or three requests.

The supplementary estimates are tabled as a document in the same form as Part II of the main estimates. However, instead of being expressed as summary votes (i.e., where a vote summarizes all the anticipated disbursements in a particular expenditure category), each supplementary estimate or vote relates to a specific program or financial transaction. The information provided in the supplementary estimates will become a schedule in the subsequent appropriation act authorizing the prescribed withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

As with the main estimates, each set of supplementary estimates is presented normally by the President of the Treasury Board and is accompanied by a recommendation from the Governor General, which the Speaker also reads aloud in the House.[255] Supplementary estimates are deemed referred to the appropriate standing committees immediately after their tabling in the House.[256] The supplementary estimates must be reported back, or are deemed to have been reported back, not later than three sitting days before the last allotted day, or the last sitting day, of the supply period in which they were tabled.[257]

*   Final Supplementary Estimates

Where concurrence in final supplementary estimates cannot be obtained before March 31 of the fiscal year to which they relate, the Standing Orders provide for approval to be sought in the next supply period, which is the first supply period of the subsequent fiscal year. In such cases, three days will be added to the supply period ending not later than June 23 to consider the motion that the House concur in those final estimates for the previous fiscal year and to pass at all stages any bill based thereon.[258]

*   Dollar Items

Supplementary estimates often include what are known as “one dollar items”, which seek an alteration in the existing allocation of funds as authorized in the main estimates. The purpose of a dollar item is not to seek new or additional money, but rather to spend money already authorized for a different purpose within a single department or agency. Since “estimates” are budgetary items, they must have a dollar value. However, because no new funds are requested, the “one dollar” is merely a symbolic amount. Dollar items may be used to transfer funds from one program to another;[259] to write‑off debts;[260] to adjust loan guarantees;[261] to authorize grants;[262] to amend enabling legislation;[263] or to amend previous appropriation acts.[264]

The inclusion of one dollar items in the estimates cannot be used to “legislate” (i.e., to obtain new legislative authority which would otherwise require separate enabling legislation through the regular legislative process, outside the supply procedure).[265]

Prior to 1968, supply procedures afforded ample opportunity for the House to debate individual items in the estimates. Those of a legislative nature (virtually always “one dollar items”) were regularly included in appropriation acts.[266] However, this practice was not accepted readily by the House and Members did question the regularity of these items.[267] The 1968 changes to the rules governing supply, which provided for the abolition of the Committee of Supply and the reference of estimates to standing committees for detailed study, had the effect of reducing significantly the time allocated for the House to consider the supplementary estimates (where most dollar items are found). Moreover, the supplementary estimates were often tabled fairly late in the supply period, allowing relatively little time for committee consideration. As a result, soon after the 1968 changes, the Speaker was called on increasingly to decide questions concerning the admissibility of dollar items.[268] The rulings by Speakers of the House have clarified what is, and what is not, procedurally acceptable in regard to dollar items.

Speakers have often indicated that Members should take the initiative in bringing to the attention of the Chair any procedural irregularities with regard to the estimates.[269] They have also repeatedly asked that Members raise questions about the procedural acceptability of estimates as early as possible so that the Chair has time to give “intelligent” consideration to these questions.[270]

The Chair has maintained that estimates with a direct and specific legislative intent (those clearly intended to amend existing legislation) should come to the House by way of an amending bill.[271] Speaker Jerome stated in a ruling: 

… it is my view that the government receives from Parliament the authority to act through the passage of legislation and receives the money to finance such authorized action through the passage by Parliament of an appropriation act. A supply item in my opinion ought not, therefore, to be used to obtain authority which is the proper subject of legislation.[272]

He also said in a further ruling: 

… supply ought to be confined strictly to the process for which it was intended; that is to say, for the purpose of putting forward by the government the estimate of money it needs, and then in turn voting by the House of that money to the government … legislation and legislated changes in substance are not intended to be part of supply, but rather ought to be part of the legislative process in the regular way which requires three readings, committee stage, and, in other words, ample opportunity for Members to participate in debate and amendment.[273]

Consideration of Estimates in Committee

When the estimates are tabled in the House, they are deemed referred to standing committees for consideration.[274] When a committee decides to consider estimates, each budgetary item, or “vote”, is called, proposed and debated as a distinct motion. A vote can be agreed to (the budget item is approved), reduced[275] (but, as the case may be, no lower than the amount already approved in interim supply) or negatived[276] (the budget item is not approved).[277] Calling a vote is the mechanism by which the committee opens debate on the program expenditures to which that vote pertains. Committees considering estimates may invite witnesses to appear; these typically include the Minister, departmental or agency officials, and interested individuals or groups.

The discussion on Vote 1 in the main estimates (generally departmental administration or operations) is traditionally wide ranging. Typically, questions on departmental policy are directed to the responsible Minister; questions of a more technical or administrative nature may be referred through the Minister to departmental officials. Chairs have generally exercised considerable latitude in the nature of the questioning permitted on estimates.[278]

A committee may not increase the amount of a vote, change the destination of a grant or change the destination or purpose of a subsidy, as this would exceed the terms of the royal recommendation and infringe on the financial initiative of the Crown.[279] A committee may move to reduce a vote by an amount equal to that set aside in the estimates for a program or activity to which the committee is opposed.[280] Members cannot propose a motion to reduce a vote by its full amount; the procedure is simply to vote against the question, “Shall the vote carry?”

Statutory expenditures are provided for on an ongoing basis by way of legislation other than the appropriation act and are identified in the main estimates for information purposes only.[281] Motions or recommendations respecting statutory expenditures listed in the main estimates are not allowed, although questions requesting information are acceptable. Statutory items may be modified only by way of amending legislation.

Report to the House

A committee is under no obligation to report the estimates back to the House; however, in the case of main estimates, committees that do not report are deemed to have done so on May 31 and, in the case of supplementary estimates, are deemed to have done so on the third sitting day before the last allotted day or the last sitting day in the supply period.[282] Where a committee chooses to report on the estimates, the Chair, or any member of the committee acting on behalf of the Chair, rises during Routine Proceedings, when the Speaker calls “Presenting Reports from Committees”, for the purpose of presenting the report.

The rules provide for one exception to the May 31 reporting deadline for main estimates. The Leader of the Opposition may give, not later than the third sitting day prior to May 31, notice of a motion to extend the committee consideration of the main estimates of a named department or agency.[283] The motion is deemed adopted when called under “Motions” during Routine Proceedings on the last sitting day prior to May 31.[284] Adoption of the motion allows the committee to continue its consideration of main estimates for that department or agency and to delay the presentation of its report for up to 10 sitting days, but not later than the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on the sitting day immediately preceding the final allotted day in the supply period.[285] If the committee has not reported by this time, it is deemed to have done so. Where the committee chooses to report, the Chair, or any member of the committee acting on behalf of the Chair, may rise on a point of order, at any time prior to the reporting deadline, and the House will revert immediately to “Presenting Reports from Committees” for the purpose of receiving the report.[286]

The report of a committee on estimates ought to correspond, both in its form and as to its substance, with the authority with which the committee is invested.[287] As specific items in the estimates have been referred to the committee by the House, specific items in the estimates (as agreed to, reduced or negatived) should be reported back to the House. In making other substantive recommendations, the committee is clearly going beyond the scope of its order of reference, which was to deal solely with the estimates items.[288] The Speaker has expressed strong reservations regarding the inclusion of substantive recommendations in committee reports on estimates.[289] A standing committee wishing to make substantive recommendations respecting the estimates which it has considered may do so under its permanent authority to study and report on any matter relating to the mandate, management and operation of the departments or agencies it oversees.[290] A motion to concur in a committee report on estimates can only be considered on an allotted day as part of the business of supply.[291]

A committee may also report on the expenditure plans and priorities for future fiscal years of the departments and agencies whose main estimates are before the committee for consideration.[292] Such reports must be presented to the House not later than the last sitting day in June, as provided for in the House of Commons calendar, and any concurrence motion can only be considered by the House on an allotted day.[293]

Consideration of Main Estimates in Committee of the Whole

Since 2001, the Standing Orders have allowed for the consideration of specific votes in the main estimates in Committee of the Whole.[294] Each year, under this rule, the Leader of the Opposition is permitted to select, in consultation with the leaders of the other opposition parties, the main estimates of no more than two departments or agencies for consideration in Committee of the Whole for up to four hours. Not later than May 1, the Leader of the Opposition must in this respect give 48 hours’ notice of a motion to refer to Committee of the Whole the consideration of the main estimates of the selected departments or agencies;[295] the motion is deemed adopted at the end of the notice period and the estimates in question are deemed withdrawn from the standing committees to which they had initially been referred.[296] The estimates are considered on a day appointed by the government, but not later than May 31, at the conclusion of the Adjournment Proceedings or, if taken up on a Friday, at the conclusion of Private Members’ Business.[297] When the estimates are to be considered following the Adjournment Proceedings, the motion to adjourn is deemed withdrawn.[298]

During the debate, the Chair is guided by the rules of Committee of the Whole and may exercise discretion and flexibility in applying them.[299] No Member will be recognized for more than 15 minutes at a time; Members may not give a speech for more than 10 minutes within that period. The 15 minutes may be used both for speeches and for posing questions to the Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary acting on behalf of the Minister. When the Member is recognized, he or she shall indicate how the 15 minutes are to be apportioned.[300] Members may speak more than once, they need not be in their own seat to be recognized, and they must have unanimous consent to split their time.[301]

At the conclusion of the proceedings, the Committee rises, the estimates are deemed reported and the House immediately adjourns to the next sitting day. According to current practices in the House, decisions on the main estimates continue to be made on the last allotted day.[302]

Concurrence in Estimates

The estimates, as reported or deemed reported by the standing committees or Committees of the Whole, must be concurred in by the House in order for the government to introduce the appropriation bill authorizing the necessary withdrawals from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. Any motions to concur in estimates are proposed on the final allotted day of a supply period, once the proceedings related to an opposition motion are completed. In a normal supply cycle, concurrence motions would be considered as follows:[303]

*       On the last allotted day in the supply period ending December 10, a motion or motions to concur in supplementary estimates would be considered, if any were tabled by the government during the period;[304]

*       On the last allotted day in the supply period ending March 26, a motion or motions to concur in supplementary estimates would be considered first, if any were tabled by the government during the period, followed by a motion to concur in interim supply for the next fiscal year;[305] and

*       On the last allotted day in the supply period ending June 23, a motion or motions to concur in the main estimates would be considered first, followed by a motion or motions to concur in final supplementary estimates relating to the preceding fiscal year and a motion or motions to concur in supplementary estimates for the current fiscal year, if any were tabled by the government during the period.[306]

A motion to concur in the main or supplementary estimates is a motion to concur in the estimates as reported or deemed reported by the standing committees or Committees of the Whole. The government, usually through the President of the Treasury Board, will give 48 hours’ written notice of a motion or motions to concur in the estimates.[307] Should a committee have reduced or negatived a vote or votes in those estimates, the government may move that they be restored or reinstated.[308] Forty‑eight hours’ written notice is also required for any motion to restore or reinstate estimates which have been reduced or negatived in committee.[309]

Furthermore, any Member may give notice to oppose any item in the estimates before the House: such items are then referred to as “opposed items” in the estimates. The notice period for opposed items is 24 hours in the supply periods ending December 10 and March 26, and 48 hours in the supply period ending June 23.[310] Members give notice of opposed items to express opposition to the total amount of a vote[311] or to a specified portion of that amount.[312] A notice to oppose an item in the estimates is not a motion.[313] Because the government may propose in one motion the concurrence in all the votes in the estimates,[314] the notice to oppose an item is rather a mechanism by which Members force the government to propose a separate motion for the concurrence in each vote that is the subject of total or partial opposition.[315] The wording of the general concurrence motion is then changed to exclude those votes.[316] On one occasion, Members who had filed notices of opposed items in the estimates informed the Clerk of the House that they did not wish to proceed with their notices. Thus, the separate motions were not put to the House, and the votes that had been opposed were re‑integrated in the general concurrence motion.[317] On another occasion, the House ordered, by unanimous consent, that the supplementary estimates be amended and that the supply motions and the bill to be based thereon be altered accordingly.[318]

On the last allotted day of each supply period, once the proceedings on the opposition motion are completed, motions to restore or reinstate votes in the estimates are considered first, followed by motions to concur in each of the votes for which a notice of opposition has been given, and the motion to concur in altogether the remaining unopposed votes.[319] The House then proceeds to the appropriation bill based on those estimates. For these purposes, the House may sit beyond the ordinary hour of daily adjournment.[320]

In principle, all the motions are debatable and amendable.[321] However, in practice, on the last allotted day in each of the supply periods ending December 10 and March 26, the debate on the opposition motion, which has precedence over all government motions to dispose of the business of supply, continues throughout the day and is interrupted by the Speaker at 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders. At that time, all the motions, starting with the opposition motion, are decided in sequence without further debate or amendment.[322]

On the last allotted day in the supply period ending June 23, unless previously disposed of, at 6:30 p.m., the Speaker interrupts the proceedings on the opposition motion. If the opposition motion is not a motion that must come to a vote, proceedings on the motion expire at the conclusion of the debate and the House proceeds to consider a motion or motions relating to the main estimates.[323] If the opposition motion is a motion that must come to a vote, the Speaker must put forthwith and without further debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of the proceedings and any recorded division requested is automatically deferred to the end of the consideration of a motion or motions relating to the main estimates.[324] At 10:00 p.m., the Speaker must interrupt any proceedings then before the House, proceed first to the taking of any deferred division or divisions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion, as the case may be, and subsequently put forthwith, without further debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of the motion or motions relating to the main estimates.[325] Immediately thereafter, the Speaker must put successively and without debate every question necessary to dispose of any business relating to the final estimates for the preceding fiscal year or for any supplementary estimates, the restoration or reinstatement of any vote in the final or supplementary estimates, or any opposed item in the final or supplementary estimates.[326]

The Supply Bill or Appropriation Act

Concurrence in the estimates or in interim supply is an order of the House to bring in an appropriation bill or bills giving effect to the spending authority (amounts and their destinations) that the House has approved.[327] Once adopted, the legislation will authorize the government to withdraw from the Consolidated Revenue Fund amounts up to, but not exceeding, the amounts set out in the estimates for the purposes specified in the votes.[328]

Supply bills must be based on the estimates or interim supply as concurred in by the House.[329] They bear the standard title: An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31 (year).[330] They begin with a preamble which cites both the message from the Governor General recommending the estimates to the House, and the purpose of the estimates, which is “to defray certain expenses of the public service of Canada, not otherwise provided for” for a specified fiscal year. The Chair has cautioned that an appropriation act gives authority only for a single fiscal year and is therefore not appropriate for expenditure which is meant to continue for a longer period, or indefinitely.[331] On one occasion, Speaker Parent expressed strong reservations about the reference to two fiscal years in the long title of a supply bill.[332] He qualified the reference as “not needed” and “misleading”. Although a separate statute may grant a government agency legislative authority to carry the unexpended balance of money appropriated for a fiscal year over to the end of the following fiscal year,[333] the appropriation itself is and must be for one fiscal year only and not be referred to as a multi‑year appropriation.

The destinations and the amounts attributable to each spending item, or vote, are set out in the schedules attached to each bill. These provide the governing conditions under which expenditures may be made. The schedules are organized alphabetically, by department, in both the English and French versions of the bill.[334]

Supply bills are considered on the last allotted day in each supply period, at the end of the day, after the Speaker has interrupted the proceedings on the opposition motion or the main estimates, as the case may be, in order for the House to go through all the remaining steps to complete the business of supply for the period. At that time, the House must proceed through all the motions related to the estimates, the interim supply and the supply bills without further debate or amendments.[335] As all bills are printed and made available once they have received first reading, Members would not normally be made aware of the content of the supply bills until late in the day, at a time when the proceedings are dealt with expeditiously in the House. To compensate for this lack of time, the practice established in recent years is therefore to allow for an early distribution of the draft copy of the bills to Members at the beginning of the supply proceedings on that day. The House invariably gives its consent to that special arrangement.[336]

Like all public bills, supply bills are “read” a second time, considered in committee, and read a third time before going to the Senate.[337] Because concurrence in the estimates or in interim supply is an order of the House to bring in the appropriation bill, first reading proceeds forthwith, without the formality of introduction, and a motion is proposed that it be read a second time and referred to a Committee of the Whole.[338]

Although, theoretically, a supply bill is debatable, and therefore amendable, at all stages after first reading, it generally passes without debate or amendment on the last allotted day.[339] However, if time for debate were to remain on that day, and debate were to occur at the second and third reading stages of the bill, speeches would be limited to 20 minutes, followed by a period not exceeding 10 minutes for questions and comments.[340] In a Committee of the Whole, the bill is considered clause by clause and then reported back to the House.[341] It is at the Committee of the Whole stage that a Member of the opposition usually seeks assurance from the President of the Treasury Board that the supply bill is in its usual form.[342] Bills reported from a Committee of the Whole are concurred in without debate or amendment.[343] Once the bill has been read the third time, it is forwarded to the Senate, where it must be given a further three readings before receiving Royal Assent and becoming law.

Normally, bills which have passed in both Houses of Parliament are held by the Clerk of the Parliaments (the Clerk of the Senate) until the Governor General (or a deputy) grants them Royal Assent. However, because the granting of supply is a prerogative of the House of Commons, supply bills are always returned to the House and taken by its Speaker to the Senate Chamber to receive Royal Assent. In a traditional ceremony, the Speaker, as spokesperson for the House, assembles with Members from the House of Commons, at the Bar of the Senate Chamber. The Speaker addresses the Crown’s representative, saying:

May it please Your Excellency (Honour[344]): The Commons of Canada have voted Supplies required to enable the Government to defray certain expenses of the public service. In the name of the Commons, I present to Your Excellency (Honour) the following Bill: (title), To which Bill I humbly request Your Excellency’s (Honour’s) Assent.

The Speaker presents the bill to the Clerk of the Senate who reads out the title of the bill, to which the Governor General (or his or her deputy) nods consent. The Royal Assent is then pronounced by the Clerk of the Senate in the following words:

In Her Majesty’s name, (the Honourable the Deputy to) His/Her Excellency the Governor General thanks His/Her Loyal Subjects, accepts their benevolence, and assents to this Bill.

The Journals of the House of Commons carries the text of the Speaker’s address, together with the response from the Crown’s representative in granting Assent, and the title of the bill.[345]

When no traditional ceremony is held, the Journals of the House of Commons carry the text of the Speaker’s message that Royal Assent has been granted by a written declaration to one or more supply bills.[346]

*   Deviations from Supply Cycle

From time to time, circumstances may require a deviation from the normal supply process and cycle. For example, because of an unscheduled adjournment or a prorogation or dissolution of Parliament, the main estimates might not be tabled and referred to standing committees before the March 1 deadline, or the interim supply or the main estimates might not be concurred in by the June 23 deadline. In those cases, the Standing Order provisions relating to the business of supply (such as those respecting the timetable for the tabling of estimates, their reference to standing committees and their return to the House, the concurrence motions and the appropriation bills) no longer apply.

Such situations may be dealt with by temporarily suspending the relevant Standing Orders. There may be an arrangement worked out between the government and the opposition parties to finalize supply as expeditiously as possible. Typically, this involves adopting a special order[347] which, depending on the situation, may address the following matters: the length of the supply period;[348] the number of allotted days in the period;[349] the notice period for opposition motions, motions to concur in interim supply, main estimates and supplementary estimates; motions to restore or reinstate any item and notices to oppose any item in the estimates;[350] committee referral and the reporting date for main or supplementary estimates;[351] the date of concurrence in the estimates;[352] and the debating time allotted to the appropriation bill.[353]

Where the government feels that there is a matter of urgency and it cannot wait until the end of a supply period, it may use its own time to consider the estimates. The Standing Orders specifically provide a mechanism in the event of an emergency where a motion to concur in the estimates and the subsequent appropriation bill may be taken under Government Orders and not on days allotted for supply.[354] The concurrence motion and the bill are then treated like any other item of government business and are therefore debatable. There is no automatic time limit on the debate and the days used for that purpose are not considered as allotted days and may not be deducted from the number of days allocated to the business of supply.[355] Apart from these two exceptions, the rules respecting the consideration of supply under Government Orders are the same as those governing proceedings on any allotted day.[356]

Top of Page



[104] Constitution Act, 1867, R.S. 1985, Appendix II, No. 5, s. 53; Standing Order 80(1).

[105] The Financial Administration Act states that no payment shall be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund without the authority of Parliament (R.S. 1985, c. F‑11, s. 26).

[106] See May, T.E., A Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings, and Usage of Parliament, 5th ed., rev. and enlarged, London: Butterworths, 1863, p. 547; Rules, Orders and Forms of Proceeding of the House of Commons of Canada, 1868, Rule 88. See also Chapter 19, “Committees of the Whole House”.

[107] Beginning in 1874, the Committee of Supply and the Committee of Ways and Means were struck at the same time (Journals, March 31, 1874, p. 10; Rules, Orders and Forms of Proceeding of the House of Commons of Canada, 1876, Rule 87). Prior to 1874, the Committee of Supply was struck during the debate on the Speech from the Throne. See, for example, Journals, November 19 and 20, 1867, p. 25; April 20, 1869, p. 25; March 1 and 3, 1870, p. 31; April 19, 1872, p. 28. The Committee of Ways and Means was not struck until the House had concurred in a resolution or resolutions reported from the Committee of Supply. See, for example, Journals, December 11, 1867, p. 64; May 4, 1869, p. 58; April 5, 1870, p. 150; April 29, 1872, p. 60. See also Chapter 19, “Committees of the Whole House”.

[108] All financial measures were to be initiated by the Crown (Constitution Act, 1867, R.S. 1985, Appendix II, No. 5, s. 54).

[109] Bourinot, 1st ed., p. 477.

[110] No motion to grant supply could be taken up in the Committee of Supply during the same sitting in which it was proposed (May, 5th ed., p. 547; Rules, Orders and Forms of Proceeding of the House of Commons of Canada, 1868, Rule 88).

[111] This is the same motion that was proposed whenever the House wished to resolve into a Committee of the Whole, as Committees of the Whole are not presided over by the Speaker. Since 1968, however, when the order is called for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole, the Speaker leaves the Chair without the question being put. See Journals, December 20, 1968, pp. 562, 572; Standing Order 100. See also Chapter 19, “Committees of the Whole House”.

[112] One amendment to the motion was permitted. However, if that amendment were withdrawn, another might be proposed. No subamendments were receivable (Bourinot, 1st ed., pp. 478‑9).

[113] This “airing of grievances” is now achieved through what are variably referred to as “supply days”, “allotted days” or “opposition days”, when the opposition determines the subject of debate for that day.

[114] Constituting the Committee of Supply was the mechanism by which the House might consider supply. Today, the House passes a “continuing order of supply” at the beginning of each session which authorizes it to consider supply at any time. See Journals, January 30, 2001, p. 13; September 30, 2002, p. 2; February 2, 2004, p. 2; October 5, 2004, p. 15; April 4, 2006, p. 12; October 16, 2007, p. 4.

[115] Bourinot, 1st ed., p. 491.

[116] Bourinot, 1st ed., pp. 496‑7.

[117] Bourinot, 1st ed., pp. 497‑8.

[118] See, for example, Debates, July 10, 1905, col. 9085‑105.

[119] Journals, April 9, 1913, pp. 451‑2, Debates, col. 7409‑10; Journals, April 23 and 24, 1913, pp. 507‑9.

[120] Proposals to improve supply procedures were discussed on a number of occasions between 1913 and 1927. See, for example, Debates, April 18, 1921, pp. 2193‑211; Journals, June 6, 1922, pp. 301‑5; Debates, March 5, 1923, pp. 856‑7; March 19, 1923, pp. 1299‑307.

[121] Journals, March 22, 1927, pp. 342‑3.

[122] In 1925, a special committee was established to consider revisions to all Standing Orders. During debate on the motion to appoint the committee, Members expressed concerns regarding parliamentary control over public expenditure, the study of estimates in committee and the rules applying to amendments to motions that the Speaker leave the Chair for the House to resolve into the Committee of Supply or the Committee of Ways and Means (Debates, February 23, 1925, pp. 412‑29). The issue of referring estimates to standing committees was revived in 1930, 1933 and 1936, and throughout the war years criticism continued that large sums of money were being spent annually with very little detailed parliamentary scrutiny. See, for example, Journals, February 15, 1933, p. 227; Debates, June 23, 1936, pp. 4123‑6; July 24, 1943, pp. 5382‑6; Journals, March 3, 1944, pp. 146‑52; April 10, 1946, pp. 125‑6; December 5, 1947, pp. 13‑17.

[123] Journals, February 8, 1955, pp. 127‑8.

[124] Journals, May 30, 1958, p. 71.

[125] Journals, April 26, 1967, pp. 1769‑74. These temporary changes reflected a consensus with regard to the various House decisions and recommendations of procedure committees which had been presented throughout the period 1964‑67. See, for example, the Fifteenth Report of the Special Committee on Procedure and Organization, presented to the House on December 14, 1964 (Journals, pp. 985‑96); the Nineteenth Report of the Special Committee on Procedure and Organization, presented to the House on March 26, 1965 (Journals, pp. 1176‑7); and the motion concerning supply proceedings adopted on June 8, 1965 (Journals, pp. 210‑1).

[126] For the purpose of the 30 days, the business of supply was defined as consisting of “main estimates; interim supply; and supplementary or additional estimates excepting supplementary or additional estimates introduced after the main estimates have been approved, and excepting always the final supplementary or additional estimates” (Journals, June 8, 1965, p. 210).

[127] Journals, December 6, 1968, pp. 429‑31.

[128] Journals, December 20, 1968, pp. 554‑73. The new supply provisions came into effect in 1969.

[129] Standing Order 81(4). In March 1975, the House agreed to a provisional Standing Order permitting opposition Members, on allotted days, to select certain items in the estimates to be considered in a Committee of the Whole. See the Second Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization, presented to the House on March 14, 1975 (Journals, pp. 372‑6), and concurred in on March 24, 1975 (Journals, p. 399). Although this procedure was followed on nine occasions over the next 15 months, the provision lapsed at the end of the session and the experiment was not renewed. Study of specific items of the main and supplementary estimates was carried out in a Committee of the Whole on May 9, 12, 13, 22, 28 and June 5 and 17, 1975, and on May 20 and 21, 1976. A similar experiment was repeated in October 2001, when the House agreed to major amendments to the Standing Orders suggested earlier in the year by the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons. See the First Report of the Committee, par. 35 and 36, presented to the House on June 1, 2001 (Journals, p. 465), and concurred in on October 4, 2001 (Journals, pp. 691‑3), pursuant to an Order made on October 3, 2001 (Journals, p. 685). The new rule provided that the Leader of the Official Opposition could consult with the leaders of other opposition parties and, not later than May 1, select the main estimates of two named departments or agencies to be considered in Committee of the Whole for a period not exceeding five hours. For further information on this procedure, see the section in this chapter entitled “Consideration of Main Estimates in Committee of the Whole”.

[130] Standing Order 81(1).

[131] Standing Order 81(13). On one occasion, the House considered specific items in the estimates on a supply day. See Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, June 26, 1973, pp. 435‑6.

[132] The question of what constitutes a lack of confidence in the government is of a political nature and not one the Speaker should decide. See, for example, Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, May 4, 1970, pp. 742‑3; Deputy Speaker Champagne’s ruling, Debates, September 19, 1991, pp. 2374‑6. Many see the combination of the confidence convention and strong party discipline as a principal reason for the weak scrutiny of government expenditure currently exercised by the Canadian House of Commons. See the Fifty‑First Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (The Business of Supply: Completing the Circle of Control), in particular Section IX, “The Confidence Convention and the Business of Supply”, presented to the House on December 10, 1998 (Journals, p. 1435). In its response to the Fifty‑First Report, tabled on May 7, 1999 (Journals, p. 1839), the government expressed the view that “the proposal to use confidence sparingly on supply matters would not be in keeping with our tradition and would be extremely difficult to implement”. For further information on the confidence convention, see Chapter 2, “Parliaments and Ministries”.

[133] See the Second Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and Organization, Journals, March 14, 1975, pp. 372, 375; March 24, 1975, p. 399. The House adopted the first opposition motion on an allotted day on February 12, 1976 (Journals, p. 1016, Debates, p. 10883). At the time, the government found the wording of the motion acceptable (Debates, February 11, 1976, p. 10842).

[134] Journals, June 27, 1985, pp. 910, 914‑5, 919. This change was recommended in the First Report of the Special Committee on the Reform of the House of Commons (McGrath Committee), presented to the House on December 20, 1984 (Journals, p. 211). The government had responded that it supported the proposal on the grounds that it provided an opportunity for the government and the opposition to discuss and debate policy without the sometimes rigid restriction of the non‑confidence motion (Debates, April 18, 1985, p. 3869). This amendment was made permanent two years later (Journals, June 3, 1987, pp. 1016, 1023). On one occasion, a Member proposed a motion which specified that it was not to be considered a question of confidence in the government. A point of order having been raised, the Deputy Speaker declared that the determination of confidence in the government is not a question of procedure and therefore not an issue to be ruled on by the Speaker (Debates, September 19, 1991, pp. 2374‑6).

[135] Journals, February 6, 1986, pp. 1644, 1655‑6; February 13, 1986, p. 1710; Standing Order 81(4). This rule change was recommended in the Third Report of the Special Committee on the Reform of the House of Commons (McGrath Committee), presented to the House on June 18, 1985 (Journals, p. 839).

[136] Journals, April 11, 1991, p. 2917.

[137] Journals, April 11, 1991, p. 2918.

[138] Journals, April 11, 1991, p. 2917. In 1994, an amendment (consequential upon the adoption of Standing Order 28(4)) provided that, if the House met only for the ceremony of Royal Assent, that day would not be counted as a sitting day for the purposes of proportionately increasing the number of supply days overall. See the Twenty-Seventh Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on June 8, 1994 (Journals, p. 545), and concurred in on June 10, 1994 (Journals, p. 563). See also Standing Order 81(10)(c) of September 1994.

[139] Journals, February 7, 1994, pp. 112, 117.

[140] Journals, February 7, 1994, p. 117. The standing committees could then report on these priorities until the last supply day was called in June.

[141] Journals, June 12, 1998, pp. 1027‑8. See, for example, Journals, June 8, 1999, pp. 2064‑6; June 6, 2002, pp. 1483‑4; June 14, 2005, pp. 882‑5.

[142] See the First Report of the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons, par. 33 to 39, presented to the House on June 1, 2001 (Journals, p. 465), and concurred in on October 4, 2001 (Journals, pp. 691‑3), pursuant to an Order made on October 3, 2001 (Journals, p. 685).

[143] See, for example, Journals, November 1, 2001, pp. 777‑9 (first occurrence); October 27, 2005, pp. 1219‑21; February 28, 2008, pp. 481‑3.

[144] See, for example, Journals, May 3, 2002, p. 1379; May 7, 2002, p. 1385 (first study in Committee of the Whole); June 4, 2002, p. 1472; May 5, 2003, p. 734; May 13, 2003, p. 780; May 27 2003, pp. 815‑6; May 2, 2008, p. 759; May 28, 2008, p. 866; May 29, 2008, p. 878. In the event that no Adjournment Proceedings are held on the day designated for consideration of specific votes in the main estimates, their consideration in Committee of the Whole takes place immediately following Private Members’ Business.

[145] See, for example, Debates, October 22, 2001, p. 6391 (first occurrence). On certain Wednesdays, the Speaker has waited until Oral Questions has ended before informing the House of the supply motion to be considered the next day. See, for example, Debates, February 27, 2002, p. 9303; March 13, 2002, p. 9593; April 24, 2002, p. 10770. On one occasion, the House agreed that the opposition motion for Monday, March 8, 2004, be not read to the House on the prior sitting day, but that it be filed with the Clerk of the House on Thursday, March 4, 2004 (Journals, February 18, 2004, p. 95).

[146] A practice had developed whereby Members of the opposition parties moved amendments to their own supply motions in order to prevent amendments by any other party. For an example of an amendment moved by a government Member to a supply day motion which changed the direction and purpose of the original motion, see Journals, October 23, 1997, pp. 142‑3; October 28, 1997, pp. 155‑7. For an example of a Member of an opposition party moving an amendment to the motion originally moved by a Member of his or her own party on a supply day, see Journals, February 8, 2001, p. 54. See also the First Report of the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons, par. 38 and 39, presented to the House on June 1, 2001 (Journals, p. 465), and concurred in on October 4, 2001 (Journals, pp. 691‑3), pursuant to an Order made on October 3, 2001 (Journals, p. 685).

[147] Journals, May 27, 2002, pp. 1431‑2. The House followed up on certain of the recommendations made in the Fifty‑First Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on December 10, 1998 (Journals, p. 1435). Later, the House expressed the opinion that the government should fully implement the recommendations contained in the report (Journals, March 12, 2002, pp. 1167‑8).

[148] Standing Order 108(3)(c). For further information on the role of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, see Chapter 20, “Committees”.

[149] Standing Order 108(3)(c)(v). To date, however, this power has never been exercised. The requirement for coordination specified in the wording of the Standing Order implies that it can only be exercised by the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, with the consent of the standing committees to which the votes have been referred. The Standing Order is, however, silent on possible forms of coordination.

[150] See the Fourth Report of the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons, par. 43 and 44, presented to the House on June 12, 2003 (Journals, p. 915), and concurred in on September 18, 2003 (Journals, p. 995).

[151] Standing Order 81(4)(a). See, for example, Journals, November 16, 2004, p. 226; November 23, 2004, p. 253; May 18, 2005, p. 774; May 31, 2005, p. 810.

[152] Standing Order 81(4)(a). See the various statements by the Chair of Committees of the Whole, Debates, November 16, 2004, p. 1439; May 18, 2005, p. 6163; November 1, 2006, p. 4572; May 16, 2007, pp. 9593‑4; May 28, 2008, p. 6201.

[153] Standing Order 81(14)(a)(ii) of the consolidated version as of November 5, 2003. See, for example, Order Paper and Notice Paper, March 22, 2004, pp. 11, IV.

[154] Standing Order 81(10)(a). See Journals, February 18, 2005, pp. 451‑5, in particular p. 453.

[155] Standing Order 81(14)(a). See, for example, Notice Paper, March 9, 2005, p. IV; Order Paper, March 10, 2005, p. 15.

[156] Standing Order 81(16)(a). See Journals, February 18, 2005, pp. 451‑5, in particular p. 453. See also Notice Paper, March 5, 2008, p. III; Order Paper, March 6, 2008, p. 28.

[157] See, for example, Debates, October 5, 2004, p. 12; April 4, 2006, p. 10. There have been occasions where the traditional request for funds was not included in the Speech from the Throne: September 8, 1930; January 25, 1940; October 9, 1951; December 12, 1988; April 3, 1989; October 16, 2007; November 19, 2008. In 1989, a question of privilege was raised contending that, since the Crown had not requested supply, the House had no obligation to consider it (Debates, April 6, 1989, p. 177). In his ruling, Speaker Fraser noted that the Standing Orders do not require that a request for funds be included in the Speech from the Throne and that its inclusion has been a matter of tradition, not procedural necessity (Debates, May 2, 1989, p. 1177).

[158] Standing Order 81(1). See, for example, Journals, October 5, 2004, p. 15; April 4, 2006, p. 12; October 16, 2007, p. 4.

[159] On March 30, 1990, an allotted day, the House was adjourned for lack of quorum. At that time, the lack of quorum and the subsequent adjournment of the sitting superseded the supply proceedings then underway (Debates, p. 10050). The continuing order for supply was lost and removed from the Order Paper. Speaker Fraser subsequently ruled that losing the order for supply did not nullify all of the House’s previous decisions respecting supply. The order could be redesignated on a non‑debatable motion proposed by a Minister of the Crown (Debates, April 3, 1990, pp. 10119‑21). A motion to redesignate the continuing order for supply was moved and agreed to (Journals, April 3, 1990, p. 1486). In 1991, the Standing Orders were amended so that loss of quorum no longer had the effect of superseding proceedings then before the House (Journals, April 11, 1991, p. 2910). For further information on quorum and superseded orders, see Chapter 9, “Sittings of the House”, and Chapter 12, “The Process of Debate”.

[160] Standing Order 81(3).

[161] Standing Order 81(2) and (10)(a).

[162] Standing Order 81(3).

[163] Standing Order 81(7) also permits standing committees of the House to study and report on the future expenditure plans and priorities of the departments and agencies whose estimates they are considering. Such studies have previously been permitted under Standing Order 108(2), which sets out the general mandate for standing committees, but the inclusion of an explicit Standing Order for this purpose indicates the House’s willingness to empower its committees accordingly.

[164] Standing Order 81(10)(a). When the new supply procedures came into effect in 1969, the rules provided for 25 allotted days, 5 in the period ending December 10, 7 in the period ending March 26 and 13 in the period ending June 30 (Journals, December 20, 1968, pp. 554, 557). Effective June 8, 1987, the distribution was changed to 6, 9 and 10, respectively (Journals, June 3, 1987, pp. 1016, 1023). On May 13, 1991, the end date of the third period was changed to June 23 from June 30, the number of allotted days was reduced from 25 to 20 and the distribution was changed to 5, 7 and 8, respectively (Journals, April 11, 1991, pp. 2905‑6, 2917, 2931). The total number of days was increased to 21 to accommodate four opposition parties, seven to be allotted in each of the three periods, effective September 21, 1998 (Journals, June 12, 1998, p. 1028). This distribution was changed most recently on March 7, 2005, to 7, 7 and 8 days, respectively (Journals, February 18, 2005, pp. 451‑5, in particular p. 453).

[165] Standing Order changes approved in 1998 (Journals, June 12, 1998, pp. 1027‑8) made provision to discuss an opposition motion on the last supply day in the period ending June 23. Before this change, that day was set aside entirely for the consideration of a motion or motions to concur in the main estimates.

[166] In reply to a point of order raised regarding the admissibility of this proposed amendment to the Standing Order in April 1991, Speaker Fraser stated that it was very difficult to see these changes as any more than an adjustment to the supply process, and went so far as to say that the proposed changes, by establishing a set formula to determine how adjustments are to be made, would add an element of certainty to what had until then been an ad hoc process (Debates, April 9, 1991, pp. 19233‑5).

[167] Standing Order 81(10)(b). See, for example, Journals, September 30, 2002, p. 2; February 2, 2004, p. 2; October 5, 2004, p. 15; October 16, 2007, p. 5; November 19, 2008, p. 12. The number of days the House sits is determined according to the House of Commons calendar set out under Standing Order 28(2).

[168] Standing Order 81(10)(c). See, for example, Journals, January 30, 2001, p. 13. In the fall of 2005, the House found itself in the unusual situation where both formulae could be applied. Since the end of the previous supply period, the House had sat two additional days, namely June 27 and 28. Moreover, the House had resumed its sittings on Monday, September 26, five sitting days later than usual. The Speaker ruled that a reduction of three sitting days was insufficient to cause a reduction in the number of supply days (Debates, September 26, 2005, p. 8015).

[169] See footnote No. 138.

[170] Standing Order 81(11).

[171] Standing Order 81(12).

[172] See, for example, Journals, November 30, 1970, p. 164, Debates, p. 1598.

[173] See, for example, Journals, March 14, 1975, p. 376; June 17, 1975, p. 641; April 30, 1993, p. 2884; September 23, 1997, p. 14; October 10, 2002, pp. 57‑8; October 5, 2004, p. 15.

[174] See, for example, Journals, April 4, 2006, pp. 13‑4. The Standing Orders were temporarily amended so that 15 sitting days were allotted to the business of supply for the period ending December 8, 2006, provided that eight were allotted before June 23.

[175] Notwithstanding the Special Order of April 4, 2006 (Journals, pp. 13‑4), cited in the previous footnote, the number of supply days was reduced by unanimous consent from 15 to 14 on November 9, 2006 (Journals, p. 673).

[176] See, for example, Journals, June 2, 1971, p. 600; December 4, 1975, p. 911. See also Debates, March 14, 1975, p. 4115; June 17, 1975, p. 6829.

[177] Journals, June 3, 1991, p. 132.

[178] On Thursday, October 6, 2005, in response to a question from the Opposition regarding the designation of the seven opposition days for that period, the Leader of the Government informed the House that the business of supply would be considered following the Remembrance Day break (Debates, p. 8515).

[179] See, for example, Debates, February 26, 2008, p. 3329; March 14, 2008, p. 4197; June 3, 2008, p. 6449. Supply days have been designated by a Minister rising on a point of order. See, for example, Debates, February 16, 2000, p. 3604; May 16, 2001, p. 4102; September 17, 2001, p. 5147; March 10, 2005, p. 4243. On one occasion, the House agreed to consider the business of supply although the day had not been designated previously (Debates, May 28, 1987, p. 6467).

[180] See, for example, Debates, February 28, 2008, pp. 3440‑1; April 3, 2008, pp. 4448‑9. For further information about the “Thursday Statement”, see Chapter 10, “The Daily Program”.

[181] When a point of order was raised concerning the method by which two opposition days were designated, the Speaker stated that he had checked the precedents and ruled that the Standing Orders had been followed to the letter. See Debates, February 3, 1986, pp. 10353‑5; Order Paper and Notice Paper, January 31, 1986, p. 7; February 3, 1986, p. 7. See also the letter from the President of the Privy Council and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons dated March 12, 1982. See Order Paper and Notice Paper, March 2, 1982, pp. 6, V; March 18, 1982, pp. 7‑8, XXI‑II. See also the letter from the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform, dated April 24, 2008. See Order Paper and Notice Paper, April 18, 2008, p. 25; April 28, 2008, p. 25.

[182] See Speaker Sauvé’s ruling, Debates, February 11, 1982, pp. 14899‑900; Deputy Speaker Francis’ ruling, Debates, October 27, 1983, p. 28375; Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, March 26, 1990, p. 9759; Speaker Milliken’s ruling, Debates, March 29, 2007, pp. 8136-8, in particular p. 8137.

[183] See, for example, Debates, February 22, 2000, p. 3868; May 6, 2002, p. 11197; March 17, 2003, p. 4215; April 8, 2003, p. 5263; May 15, 2007, p. 9541. On occasion, the announcement has been made in the House on a point of order. See, for example, Debates, October 4, 2000, p. 8859; April 18, 2005, p. 5237. Exceptionally, the announcement by the Government House Leader, on April 18, 2005, was made after the Official Opposition had given notice of a motion which, if it had passed, would have designated the other supply days for the period, which by convention is the prerogative of the government (Notice Paper, April 19, 2005, pp. III‑IV). Similarly, on April 22, 2005, the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs presented to the House its Thirty-Fifth Report, in which it recommended that, if the government had not designated any of the remaining six allotted days so that an opposition motion could be considered on or before May 18, 2005, that May 19, 2005, be designated a supply day (Journals, p. 673). The report’s recommendation was not implemented. The six remaining days were designated May 31, June 2, 3, 7, 9 and 14, 2005, respectively (Status of House Business at Dissolution, November 29, 2005, pp. 68‑9).

[184] See the letter from the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, dated November 28, 2008. See also the Projected Order of Business and the Projected Order of Business (revised) dated December 1, 2008.

[185] See Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, March 22, 1990, p. 9628.

[186] See Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, December 4, 1986, pp. 1811‑2. On one occasion, the House agreed that the debate on a question of privilege should be adjourned to the following day so that the House could move on to the consideration of the opposition motion (Journals, February 5, 2002, pp. 1006‑7, Debates, p. 8680).

[187] See, for example, Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, April 3, 1990, pp. 10119‑20. See also Journals, March 30, 1990, pp. 1476‑7, Order Paper and Notice Paper, p. 13; Order Paper and Notice Paper, April 2, 1990, p. 13; April 4, 1990, p. 13.

[188] Standing Order 40. See Journals, November 16, 1999, p. 189.

[189] Standing Order 81(15).

[190] Standing Order 81(15) and (18).

[191] Standing Order 81(13).

[192] See Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, March 6, 1973, pp. 166‑7; Speaker Jerome’s ruling, Journals, November 14, 1975, pp. 861-2; Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, June 8, 1987, p. 6820; Speaker Milliken’s rulings, Debates, March 20, 2001, pp. 1873‑5, in particular p. 1875; October 31, 2002, pp. 1147‑50, in particular pp. 1149‑50. It is clear from previous rulings that the Chair was not disposed to interfere with the use of the allotted day “except on the clearest and most certain procedural grounds.” For instance, the Speaker has ruled out of order an opposition motion moving passage at all stages of four public bills sponsored by the government (Debates, March 29, 2007, pp. 8136‑8). He stated that the proposed motion would have the effect of imposing closure or time allocation on the four bills, and noted that the precedents, with the exception of cases dealing with the reinstatement of bills, would not permit the Chair to allow a government motion to deal with more than one bill. On another occasion, the Speaker refused to rule in favour of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons who believed the use of the word “condemn” in an opposition motion brought the confidence convention into play (Debates, March 6, 2008, pp. 3707‑8, 3754), and went on to say that confidence was not a matter of parliamentary procedure, nor was it something on which the Speaker could be asked to rule.

[193] Standing Order 81(9) and (13). See, for example, Journals, December 6, 1973, pp. 725‑6; Debates, December 10, 1979, p. 2189.

[194] Standing Order 81(7), (8) and (9).

[195] Standing Order 81(14)(a). The suspension of a sitting, as opposed to an adjournment, does not prevent Members from filing notices of motions. See Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Debates, January 27, 1969, p. 4813.

[196] Standing Order 54(1). An opposition motion which had not been filed in time to appear on the Order Paper was taken up with the agreement of the House. See Debates, October 5, 1998, p. 8729, Order Paper and Notice Paper, p. 13. On another occasion, the House agreed that an opposition motion that had not been placed on the Notice Paper be taken up instead of the one that had been placed on notice (Journals, March 19, 2001, p. 185, Order Paper and Notice Paper, pp. 15, III). During an adjournment period, notices may be filed any time up to 6:00 p.m. on the Thursday before the next scheduled sitting of the House, pursuant to Standing Order 54(2). The notice will appear on both the Notice Paper and the Order Paper for that sitting. See, for example, Order Paper and Notice Paper, May 29, 2006, pp. 15‑6, IV‑V; March 31, 2008, pp. 25, VI‑VII.

[197] See Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, December 7, 1989, pp. 6583‑5. See also, for example, Order Paper and Notice Paper, January 30, 2008, pp. 19, IV.

[198] See Speaker Sauvé’s ruling, Debates, February 15, 1982, pp. 14997‑8. See, for example, Debates, April 18, 2005, p. 5237; Order Paper and Notice Paper, April 19, 2005, pp. III‑IV; Debates, May 15, 2007, p. 9541; Order Paper and Notice Paper, May 16, 2007, p. III.

[199] See Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, December 7, 1989, pp. 6583‑5.

[200] See Speaker Milliken’s ruling, Debates, March 12, 2002, pp. 9547‑8. In the absence of an agreement between the House Leaders on the number of votable motions for the PC/DR Coalition, the Speaker told the Members that the interests of the House would not be well served if the Speaker were drawn into disputes among parties. He stated that it would be prudent for the Chair not to accept the designation of any motion as votable until an agreement had been reached. An agreement was introduced in the form of a motion and was passed by unanimous consent the following day (Journals, March 13, 2002, p. 1172). See also the statement on this matter by the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Debates, April 1, 2003, p. 5002.

[201] See the Acting Speaker’s ruling, Debates, November 22, 1983, p. 29061; Speaker Francis’ ruling, Debates, May 31, 1984, pp. 4223‑4.

[202] See Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, December 7, 1989, pp. 6583‑5; Speaker Milliken’s ruling, Debates, November 5, 2002, pp. 1263‑4. See also Debates, October 30, 2002, pp. 1081‑2. On May 30, 2005, there were three notices of opposition motions on behalf of Conservative Members on the Order Paper, all of them with notice of 48 hours or more. They could therefore all be chosen for debate on the next supply day. However, at the request of the Conservative Party, the motion that was to take precedence on the supply day was the one that had been placed on the Notice Paper first (Order Paper and Notice Paper, May 30, 2005, pp. 25‑6). The next day, the three opposition motions were in the order in which they had been placed on notice (Order Paper and Notice Paper, May 31, 2005, p. 23). The motion that had been highlighted on May 30, 2005, was ultimately the one that was debated on the supply day.

[203] Standing Order 81(14)(b). See Speaker Lamoureux’s rulings, Debates, March 3, 1969, p. 6121; Journals, December 10, 1973, p. 734. See also Speaker Sauvé’s ruling, Debates, February 18, 1982, p. 15143; the Acting Speaker’s ruling, Debates, November 22, 1983, p. 29061; Speaker Francis’ ruling, Debates, May 31, 1984, pp. 4223‑4; Speaker Milliken’s ruling, Debates, March 12, 2008, pp. 4055‑7. In the latter case, there were 30 opposition motions on the Order Paper and all had been placed on notice with more than 48 hours’ notice and were therefore eligible to be chosen for debate on days that had been awarded to the party that had placed them on notice (Order Paper and Notice Paper, March 12, 2008, pp. 23‑8). The New Democratic Party objected to the fact that the Liberal Party had only made its final decision regarding the motion for debate at 2 p.m. that day, just one hour before the period set aside for Government Orders. The Speaker ruled that, no matter which motion was chosen for debate, the motion had met the notice requirements of the Standing Orders.

[204] See Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, December 7, 1989, pp. 6583‑5; Speaker Milliken’s rulings, Debates, November 5, 2002, pp. 1263‑4; November 13, 2007, pp. 773‑6. See also the Acting Speaker’s ruling, Debates, November 22, 1983, p. 29061; Speaker Francis’ ruling, Debates, May 31, 1984, pp. 4223‑4.

[205] Standing Order 81(16)(a). See, for example, Notice Paper, March 5, 2008, p. III; Order Paper, March 6, 2008, p. 28. Initially, only two votable motions were provided for in each supply period. That was changed in 1987 to provide for a maximum of eight in any annual supply cycle but not more than four in any supply period (Journals, June 3, 1987, pp. 1016, 1023). That was changed again in 1991 to reduce to three the maximum number of votable opposition motions that could be considered in any supply period (Journals, April 11, 1991, pp. 2905‑6, 2918). In 1998, another amendment provided that a total of 14 opposition motions could be votable in the course of a year, with no limit on the number of votable motions in each period (Journals, June 12, 1998, pp. 1027‑8). The House has, on occasion, agreed to increase the number of votable opposition motions in a supply period. See, for example, Journals, September 23, 1997, p. 14. When the Standing Orders in relation to supply were changed in 1968, the wording respecting votable opposition motions referred to motions of “no‑confidence” in the government. However, this is no longer the case. In June 1985, the House introduced changes to the Standing Orders which modified the wording to remove the reference to “no‑confidence” (Journals, June 27, 1985, pp. 910, 914, 919). For further information on non‑confidence opposition motions, see the section in this chapter entitled “Supply Proceedings Since 1968”.

[206] See, for example, Journals, February 12, 1992, pp. 1010‑2; March 8, 1994, pp. 220‑2; October 28, 1997, pp. 155‑7; October 30, 1997, p. 175; February 9, 1999, pp. 1482‑3; June 8, 1999, pp. 2064‑6, 2069‑71. This occurs more frequently when there is a minority government. See, for example, Journals, November 2, 2004, pp. 182‑3; November 30, 2004, pp. 275‑6; November 21, 2005, pp. 1301‑3; November 28, 2005, pp. 1352‑3; November 13, 2007, p. 144; December 6, 2007, p. 271; March 3, 2008, pp. 501‑3; March 31, 2008, pp. 611‑2, 621‑2; April 8, 2008, pp. 665‑7; June 5, 2008, pp. 919‑21.

[207] Standing Order 81(19). On occasion, the question on a non‑votable motion was put by unanimous consent and agreed to (Journals, May 14, 1987, pp. 917‑8, Debates, p. 6093; Journals, November 24, 1989, pp. 880‑2). See also Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, May 14, 1987, p. 6112.

[208] Standing Order 26(1). See, for example, Journals, June 23, 1969, pp. 1222-3; March 19, 2002, p. 1189 (deemed withdrawn); March 19, 1976, p. 1134 (adopted). On one occasion, the House agreed that the period set aside for supply proceedings be extended by the period of time corresponding to the time taken for Royal Assent the same day, and that the ordinary hour of daily adjournment be delayed accordingly (Debates, May 11, 2006, pp. 1222, 1280).

[209] Standing Order 81(2). On one occasion, the proceedings ended just before Statements by Members. Following Question Period, the government called the order for second reading and reference to a committee of Bill C‑10, An Act to amend the Municipal Grants Act. Unanimous consent was sought twice for the House to return to the supply day motion, but on both occasions it was instantly denied (Debates, November 16, 1999, pp. 1321, 1335‑6, 1338).

[210] Standing Order 81(16)(c). The Speaker interrupts the proceedings even if the House has already passed a motion to concur in the opposition motion at the end of the debate (Journals, March 14, 2002, p. 1176), or a motion stating that, at the conclusion of the day’s debate on the opposition motion, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put and a recorded division deemed requested and deferred. See, for example, Journals, May 4, 2006, pp. 131‑2; April 19, 2007, pp. 1238‑9; November 1, 2007, pp. 130‑1.

[211] Standing Order 45(5)(b). The recorded division is deferred to an appointed time, which must be no later than the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on the next sitting day that is not a Friday.

[212] Standing Order 45(5)(a)(iii).

[213] Standing Order 45(5)(b).

[214] Standing Order 81(18)(b).

[215] Standing Order 45(6)(a). See, for example, Journals, March 7, 2008, p. 547.

[216] Standing Order 81(16)(b).

[217] See, for example, Debates, January 23, 1969, p. 4716; Journals, January 29, 1969, p. 637; January 30, 1969, p. 646; Debates, November 17, 1970, p. 1250; Journals, November 18, 1970, p. 113; November 19, 1970, pp. 116‑7; Debates, April 20, 1989, pp. 739‑40, 760; Journals, April 21, 1989, pp. 124, 128; April 24, 1989, pp. 132, 134‑5.

[218] Standing Order 81(16)(b). See, for example, Order Paper and Notice Paper, April 21, 1989, p. V.

[219] Standing Orders 81(22) and 43(1)(b). During the supply period ending December 10, 1997, when five recognized parties were present in the House, the time allocated to all speakers in the first round of debate, with the exception of the Member proposing the motion, was reduced to 10 minutes, with a five‑minute period reserved for questions and comments (Journals, September 26, 1997, p. 30). Subsequently, the House agreed to continue that order indefinitely during the session (Journals, February 9, 1998, p. 427).

[220] See, for example, Debates, February 2, 1990, p. 7755; February 8, 1990, p. 8070; March 15, 1990, p. 9315; October 20, 1998, p. 9136; October 26, 1998, p. 9372; November 19, 1998, pp. 10174‑7. Frequently in the past, where a party had signalled to the House that Members would be sharing their time, the Member following the Member who moved the motion had proposed an amendment to prevent the content of the debate from being changed. See, for example, Debates, October 20, 1998, pp. 9136‑9; October 26, 1998, pp. 9372‑6; March 15, 1999, p. 12839. This practice has fallen into disuse since the Standing Orders were amended in 2001 to provide that amendments to supply day motions could only be moved with the consent of the mover of the motion. See footnote No. 146.

[221] Standing Order 85. The subamendment must amend or clarify the amendment and not change the original question (Debates, February 8, 2001, pp. 430‑1).

[222] See, for example, Debates, March 16, 1971, p. 4306; November 3, 1971, pp. 9304‑6; October 12, 1989, p. 4588; February 1, 1990, p. 7731; March 12, 1991, p. 18378.

[223] See, for example, Debates, March 16, 1971, p. 4306; November 3, 1971, pp. 9304‑6; December 10, 1984, p. 1071; March 26, 1992, p. 8877.

[224] See, for example, Debates, February 12, 1992, p. 6878; April 2, 1992, p. 9268.

[225] See, for example, Journals, May 8, 2001, p. 374.

[226] See footnote No. 146. See also Debates, May 16, 2006, p. 1475; February 1, 2007, pp. 6259, 6263; February 22, 2007, p. 7184 (sponsor’s consent denied); November 22, 2005, p. 10015; June 15, 2006, pp. 2431‑2; April 8, 2008, p. 4598 (sponsor’s consent given). In the absence of the sponsor, it is permissible for consent to be either given or denied by the House Leader, the Deputy House Leader, the Whip or the Deputy Whip of the sponsor’s party. See Debates, February 8, 2007, p. 6558.

[227] A vote in the estimates may be referred to variously as a “vote”, an “estimate” or an “item”. The votes for each department or agency are numbered consecutively 1, 5, 10, 15, etc. supplementary votes which modify an appropriation authorized under the main estimates will bear the same number followed by the letter which corresponds to the particular set of supplementary estimates in question (i.e., typically “a”, “b” or “c”). Entirely new votes included in the supplementary estimates will be numbered 2 through 4, 6 through 9, 11 through 14, etc., for each department or agency.

[228] The Main Estimates include: Program Expenditure Votes; Operating Expenditure Votes; Capital Expenditure Votes; Grants and Contributions Votes; Non‑Budgetary Votes (identified by the letter L); Special Votes: Crown Corporation Deficits and Separate Legal Identities; Special Votes: Treasury Board Centrally Financed Votes. See 2007-2008 Estimates, Part II, The Main Estimates, “Introduction to Part II”, pp. 1‑34, 1‑35.

[229] See 2007‑2008 Estimates, Part II, The Main Estimates, “Introduction to Part II”, p. 1‑34.

[230] See the Ninth Report of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance, March 21, 1990, Issue No. 20, p. 15. However, because statutory items are not referred to committees for study, they may not be the object of any motion, vote or recommendation. Questions requesting information on statutory items are nevertheless allowed.

[231] Until 1997, each department and agency also tabled, along with its main estimates, an individual expenditure plan, known as the Part III. Part IIIs were referred, along with the items in the estimates, to the appropriate standing committees.

[232] Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons 1992, Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada, November 1992, Chapter 6, pp. 165‑6.

[233] Debates, February 3, 1938, pp. 148‑9.

[234] Debates, February 11, 1970, p. 3468.

[235] See, for example, Debates, February 26, 1981, pp. 7721‑2, for comments on the new format.

[236] Debates, February 23, 1982, p. 15289. On February 22, 1990, the President of the Treasury Board tabled in the House Parts I and II of the estimates and 73 out of 87 departmental plans of Part III with the promise that the remaining 14 plans would be tabled by March 12 (Debates, pp. 8651‑3). A point of order was raised arguing that the adoption by the House of the Twelfth Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (presented to the House on December 17, 1981 (Journals, p. 4460), and concurred in on June 23, 1982 (Journals, p. 5075)), obliged the President of the Treasury Board to table all departmental Expenditure Plans (Part IIIs) by March 1. Speaker Fraser ruled that the Standing Orders only require that Part II of the estimates be tabled by March 1 (Debates, March 16, 1990, pp. 9381‑3). Nonetheless, he did indicate that since the standing committees require Part III in order to understand the votes in Part II adequately, Part IIIs should be tabled with Part II.

[237] Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons 1992, par. 6.21 to 6.23, p. 167.

[238] Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons 1992, par. 6.26, pp. 167‑8.

[239] Journals, April 24, 1997, p. 1533. See also the Fifty‑First Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (The Business of Supply: Completing the Circle of Control), in particular Section IV, “Completing the Circle: New Procedures for the Business of Supply”, presented to the House on December 10, 1998 (Journals, p. 1435).

[240] 2007-2008 Estimates, Parts I and II, The Government Expense Plan and Main Estimates, inside cover.

[241] See, for example, Journals, March 29, 2007, pp. 1183‑7.

[242] Standing Order 81(7).

[243] 2007-2008 Estimates, Parts I and II, The Government Expense Plan and Main Estimates, inside cover.

[244] See, for example, Journals, November 1, 2007, pp. 125‑9.

[245] See, for example, Journals, December 14, 2004, p. 349; June 12, 2006, p. 262 (Strategic Outlook); June 13, 2007, p. 1518; June 13, 2008, p. 986 (Report to Canadians). The Strategic Outlook replaces the former Report on Plans and Priorities, while the Report to Canadians replaces the former Performance Report. The Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs is normally charged with the consideration of the House’s estimates.

[246] See the Thirty‑Seventh Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs entitled “Improved Reporting to Parliament Project—Phase Two: Moving Forward”, presented to the House on June 15, 2000 (Journals, p. 1883), as well as the Sixth Report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates entitled “Meaningful Scrutiny: Practical Improvements to the Estimates Process”, presented to the House on September 25, 2003 (Journals, pp. 1039‑40). This report focused on practical strategies that would improve Parliament’s examination of estimates documents, and strengthen the information provided within the estimates and incentives to review it. See also the government response to the Sixth Report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates, presented to the House on February 20, 2004 (Journals, p. 107). For an explanation of full accrual accounting and its extension to budgeting and appropriations, see pp. 5‑6 of the First Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, presented to the House on May 17, 2006 (Journals, pp. 185‑6), as well as the government response to the report, presented to the House on August 16, 2006 (Journals, September 18, 2006, p. 379). For a statement as to whether departmental performance reports are fulfilling their purpose, see pp. 5‑6 of the Sixteenth Report of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, presented to the House on May 29, 2007 (Journals, p. 1434), as well as the government response to the report, presented to the House on October 17, 2007 (Journals, p. 17).

[247] See pp. 1‑4 of the paper entitled “Results for Canadians”, published in 2000, which set out a management framework for the government of Canada and an agenda for change in the way that departments and agencies managed and delivered their programs and services (Journals, March 30, 2000, p. 1509). See pp. 53‑4 of the document entitled “Canada’s Performance”, introduced in 2001 and tabled once a year by the President of the Treasury Board, which provides a whole-of-government perspective from which to view the plans, results and resources of individual federal departments and agencies as presented in their spring planning and fall performance reports. See, for example, Journals, December 6, 2001, p. 925; November 23, 2006, p. 799; November 23, 2007, p. 205.

[248] Standing Order 81(4).

[249] Constitution Act, 1867, R.S. 1985, Appendix II, No. 5, s. 54; Standing Order 79. See, for example, Journals, February 28, 2008, p. 481, Debates, p. 3395.

[250] Standing Order 81(4). See, for example, Journals, February 28, 2008, pp. 481‑3. Since October 2001, the main and supplementary estimates have been deemed referred to the appropriate committees following their tabling in the House, as opposed to referral by a votable motion. See the First Report of the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons, par. 33 to 39, presented to the House on June 1, 2001 (Journals, p. 465), and concurred in on October 4, 2001 (Journals, pp. 691‑3), pursuant to an Order made on October 3, 2001 (Journals, p. 685). See also Journals, November 1, 2001, pp. 777‑9 (first occurrence).

[251] See, for example, Journals, March 22, 2007, pp. 1145‑6; March 12, 2008, pp. 579‑81.

[252] See, for example, Notice Paper, March 20, 2007, p. iv; March 11, 2008, pp. iv‑v.

[253] See, for example, Debates, March 20, 1975, pp. 4357‑8; Journals, May 3, 2006, pp. 124‑5; March 22, 2007, pp. 1145‑6.

[254] Standing Order 81(17).

[255] See, for example, Journals, February 14, 2008, p. 441.

[256] Standing Order 81(5). See, for example, Journals, May 13, 2008, pp. 811‑3; November 24, 2008, pp. 30‑2.

[257] Standing Order 81(5). On one occasion, the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates presented a report to the House “expressing its dismay and frustration at the lack of time allowed for the study of the Supplementary Estimates (B)” for 2004‑05. It recommended that the supplementary estimates be referred to the Committee at least 21 sitting days before the required reporting date pursuant to the Standing Orders. See the Committee’s Sixth Report, presented to the House on March 23, 2005 (Journals, p. 545), and concurred in on May 17, 2005 (Journals, pp. 764‑5). There was no follow-up to this report.

[258] Standing Order 81(12).

[259] See, for example, Appropriation Act No. 3, 2007‑2008 (S.C. 2007, c. 34, Schedule 1, pp. 34‑5), Supplementary Estimates (A), NATURAL RESOURCES—Department, Votes 1a, 5a and 10a.

[260] See, for example, Appropriation Act No. 4, 2006‑2007 (S.C. 2007, c. 3, Schedule 1, p. 4), Supplementary Estimates (B), AGRICULTURE AND AGRI-FOOD—Department, Vote 13b.

[261] See, for example, Appropriation Act No. 3, 2006‑2007 (S.C. 2006, c. 7, Schedule 1, p. 24), Supplementary Estimates (A), HUMAN RESOURCES AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT—Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Vote 27a.

[262] See, for example, Appropriation Act No. 3, 2007‑2008 (S.C. 2007, c. 34, Schedule 1, p. 38), Supplementary Estimates (A), PUBLIC SAFETY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS—Department, Vote 5a.

[263] See, for example, Appropriation Act No. 4, 2001‑2002 (S.C. 2002, c. 5, Schedule 1, p. 28), Supplementary Estimates (B), PUBLIC WORKS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES—Department, Votes 6b, 7b, 8b and 9b. A Member rose on a point of order regarding the procedural acceptability of these votes, stating that they sought to amend an existing statute, the Revolving Funds Act, by means of an appropriation act and that the government should have amended the enabling act (Debates, March 18, 2002, pp. 9782‑3). After taking the matter under advisement, the Deputy Speaker ruled that Parliament had given its approval to the Revolving Funds Act, including the provision in section 12, permitting modification of the dollar limit in the optional services revolving fund by way of an appropriation act. Under the circumstances, he saw no reason to depart from the usual practices of the House (Debates, March 19, 2002, pp. 9791, 9814‑5, 9851‑2).

[264] See Speaker Jerome’s ruling, Journals, December 7, 1977, p. 185; Speaker Sauvé’s rulings, Debates, March 25, 1981, p. 8601; June 12, 1981, p. 10546. See also, for example, Appropriation Act No. 3, 1996‑97 (S.C. 1996, c. 29, Schedule, p. 13), Supplementary Estimates (A), PUBLIC WORKS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES, Vote 19a.

[265] See, for example, Debates, March 31, 1952, pp. 966‑73; March 27, 1961, pp. 3368‑75; April 1, 1964, pp. 1678‑95.

[266] In some cases, the wording of the dollar item would specify the statute it was amending or superseding. See, for example, Appropriation Act No. 5, 1963, Schedule B (Supplementary Estimates (A), 1963‑64), FINANCE, Votes 58a, 59a and 64a, and Schedule E (Supplementary Estimates (D) 1963‑64), PUBLIC WORKS, Vote 178d (S.C. 1963, c. 42, pp. 40‑1, 54); Appropriation Act No. 10, 1964, Schedule B (Supplementary Estimates (A) 1964‑65), LABOUR, Vote 7a and Schedule D (Supplementary Estimates (C) 1964‑65), FINANCE, Vote L18c (S.C. 1964‑65, c. 34, pp. 31, 44); Appropriation Act No. 2, 1965, Schedule (Supplementary Estimates (D) 1964‑65), EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, Vote 33d and TRANSPORT, Vote 73d (S.C. 1964‑65, c. 50, pp. 5, 13).

[267] Items were challenged by Members in opposition. See, for example, the debate on a “one dollar” item respecting the Unemployment Insurance Act (Debates, April 1, 1964, pp. 1678‑95). On April 2, 1965, three “one dollar” items having the effect of amending the Public Service Superannuation Act were challenged in the House and subsequently withdrawn by the government (Debates, pp. 13125‑32), even though similar items had been approved in previous Appropriation Acts. See, for example, Appropriation Act No. 5, 1963, Schedule B (Supplementary Estimates (A), 1963‑64), FINANCE, Votes 58a and 64a (S.C. 1963, c. 42, pp. 40‑1). See also Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, March 10, 1971, pp. 395‑7. In 1969, the Standing Committee on Miscellaneous Estimates expressed its concern over the extensive use of one dollar items for the purpose of statutory amendments. See the Fourth Report of the Committee, presented to the House on February 28, 1969 (Journals, p. 756).

[268] See Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, March 10, 1971, p. 396; Speaker Jerome’s rulings, Journals, March 22, 1977, pp. 604‑8, December 7, 1977, p. 184; Speaker Sauvé’s ruling, Debates, March 25, 1981, pp. 8600‑1.

[269] See, for example, Speaker Jerome’s ruling, Journals, March 22, 1977, pp. 606‑7.

[270] Speaker Jerome’s suggestion that such points of order be taken up on the next to last allotted day of a supply period was supported by Speaker Sauvé. See Speaker Jerome’s ruling, Journals, March 22, 1977, pp. 607‑8; Speaker Sauvé’s ruling, Debates, June 21, 1982, pp. 18646‑7; Speaker Parent’s ruling, Debates, November 25, 1997, p. 2208.

[271] See Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, December 10, 1973, p. 737. Even where legislative authority exists, the Speaker has suggested that where a matter involves not only money but also a question of principle, it was preferable that it be brought to the House in the form of a separate bill. See Speaker Jerome’s ruling, Journals, June 22, 1976, p. 1368.

[272] Journals, March 22, 1977, p. 607. See Speaker Sauvé’s rulings, Debates, March 25, 1981, p. 8601; June 12, 1981, p. 10546; June 21, 1982, p. 18646; March 21, 1983, p. 23968; Speaker Francis’ ruling, Debates, March 21, 1984, p. 2308; Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, March 20, 1991, pp. 18731‑2; Speaker Parent’s ruling, Debates, November 25, 1997, p. 2208; Speaker Milliken’s ruling, Debates, November 22, 2001, pp. 7453‑5. John Williams (St. Albert) rose on a point of order with regard to two items in the 2001‑02 Supplementary Estimates (A): Vote 10 for $50 million under ENVIRONMENT CANADA and Vote 10 for $50 million under NATURAL RESOURCES CANADA, both amounts for the Sustainable Development Technology Fund. The Speaker noted that in this case there was no multi-year appropriation, nor was there an attempt to legislate through the estimates. However, the Speaker concluded that no authority had ever been sought from Parliament for the $50 million in grants paid earlier the same year and that the note in the Supplementary Estimates (A), 2001‑02 on the disbursement of these funds was not sufficient to be considered a request for approval of those grants. After voicing his concern over the lack of clarity and transparency in this case, the Speaker stated that there was ample time for the government to take corrective action and to make the appropriate request of Parliament through the supplementary estimates process. See also Debates, December 4, 2001, pp. 7859‑60.

[273] Journals, December 7, 1977, p. 184.

[274] Standing Order 81(4) and (5). For further information about the consideration of the estimates in committee, see Chapter 20, “Committees”.

[275] See, for example, Journals, May 29, 2003, pp. 825‑6. An estimate should not be reduced by a trifling amount (Beauchesne, A., Beauchesne’s Rules & Forms of the House of Commons of Canada, 6th ed., edited by A. Fraser, W.F. Dawson and J.A. Holtby, Toronto: The Carswell Company Limited, 1989, cit. 955(3), p. 261). That said, however, the House approved the supplementary estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005, including Vote 1b under FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE (Foreign Affairs), as reduced from $12,011,400 to $12,011,399 by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Journals, March 10, 2005, pp. 514‑5; March 22, 2005, p. 536; Appropriation Act No. 4, 2004‑2005 (S.C. 2005, c. 12, Schedule 1, p. 10). When Vote 1b was under consideration in committee, Alexa McDonough (Halifax) said that she had moved to reduce the estimate, purely for symbolic reasons, “to express [our] dissatisfaction with the manner in which the government has dealt with the whole issue of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the budgetary support for Foreign Affairs and International Trade” (Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Evidence, March 10, 2005, Meeting No. 27, pp. 13‑28, in particular p. 14).

[276] See, for example, Journals, March 21, 1973, p. 200; December 7, 1979, p. 324.

[277] See Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, June 18, 1973, p. 420.

[278] See also Chapter 20, “Committees”.

[279] See Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, March 24, 1970, p. 637. See also Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 427.

[280] See, for example, Journals, November 29, 2004, p. 269; April 15, 2005, p. 636.

[281] See Supplementary Estimates (A), 2007‑2008, “Introduction to Supplementary Estimates”, p. 21.

[282] Standing Order 81(4) and (5).

[283] Standing Order 81(4)(b). See, for example, Notice Paper, May 29, 2001, p. III; May 29, 2008, p. III. In 1999, because the Leader of the Opposition had chosen not to provide such a notice, Peter MacKay (Pictou–Antigonish–Guysborough) placed a notice of motion on the Notice Paper to the effect that consideration of the main estimates of the Department of Human Resources Development by the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities be extended beyond May 31 (Notice Paper, May 27, 1999, p. V). The Member asked that the Speaker transfer the power which is normally reserved solely for the Leader of the Opposition under Standing Order 81(4)(b) to another opposition party (Debates, May 27, 1999, pp. 15351‑2). After taking the matter under advisement, the Acting Speaker stated that Standing Order 81(4)(b) permits the measure but does not require it, that there is no Standing Order that allows anyone other than the Leader of the Opposition to propose an extension and that, on the issue of extension, the Standing Orders leave the Speaker no discretionary power (Debates, May 28, 1999, pp. 15429‑30).

[284] See, for example, Journals, May 30, 2001, p. 453; May 30, 2007, p. 1447; May 30, 2008, p. 880.

[285] Standing Order 81(4)(c).

[286] Standing Order 81(4)(d). See, for example, Journals, June 8, 2001, p. 518.

[287] See Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, June 18, 1973, p. 420.

[288] See Speaker Jerome’s ruling, Debates, December 10, 1979, p. 2189.

[289] See Speaker Jerome’s ruling, Debates, December 10, 1979, p. 2189.

[290] Standing Order 108(2).

[291] Standing Order 81(9). See Speaker Lamoureux’s rulings, Journals, June 18, 1973, p. 420; December 6, 1973, p. 725; Speaker Jerome’s ruling, Debates, December 10, 1979, p. 2189. For examples of a committee report on estimates being the subject matter of an opposition motion on an allotted day, see Journals, March 3, 1969, p. 762; Debates, June 19, 1969, p. 10410.

[292] Standing Order 81(7). Many House standing committees have studied the future expenditure plans and priorities of the departments and agencies whose estimates they were considering, but none have reported back to the House. See, for example, Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, April 13, 1994, Issue No. 14, p. 14:4; April 19, 1994, Issue No. 15, p. 15:3‑4; April 26, 1994, Issue No. 16, p. 16:3; April 28, 1994, Issue No. 17, p. 17:3‑4; May 3, 1994, Issue No. 18, p. 18:3; May 5, 1994, Issue No. 19, p. 19:3; May 31, 1994, Issue No. 20, p. 20:3‑4.

[293] Standing Order 81(8).

[294] Standing Order 81(4)(a). See the First Report of the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons, par. 33 to 39, presented to the House on June 1, 2001 (Journals, p. 465), and concurred in on October 4, 2001 (Journals, pp. 691‑3), pursuant to an Order made on October 3, 2001 (Journals, p. 685). For further information on the consideration of the main estimates in Committee of the Whole, see Chapter 19, “Committees of the Whole”.

[295] See, for example, Notice Paper, May 2, 2002, p. III; May 2, 2007, p. III.

[296] See, for example, Journals, May 3, 2002, p. 1379; May 3, 2007, p. 1348. On one occasion, the motion to refer to Committees of the Whole the consideration of all votes under FINANCE and all votes under FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL TRADE was placed on notice the same day as the Standing Committee on Public Accounts reported back to the House on Vote 15 under FINANCE in the 2008‑09 main estimates (Journals, April 30, 2008, p. 746; Notice Paper, May 1, 2008, p. III). The votes under the motion were deemed withdrawn from the standing committees to which they had originally been referred, with the exception of Vote 15 that had already been reported back to the House (Journals, May 2, 2008, p. 759). All votes under FINANCE were considered in Committee of the Whole on May 28, 2008 (Journals, p. 866).

[297] The government appoints these days the same way it designates opposition days, that is, by means of an announcement in the House. See, for example, Debates, May 10, 2007, pp. 9331‑2. On one occasion, the House consented to the consideration of all votes under PUBLIC WORKS AND GOVERNMENT SERVICES in the main estimates being deferred from May 28 to June 4, 2002 (Journals, May 27, 2002, p. 1430). In the fall of 2004, due to the dissolution of the Thirty-Seventh Parliament, all votes under CANADIAN HERITAGE and all votes under HEALTH in the main estimates were referred to Committees of the Whole on November 1 (Journals, pp. 177‑8), and considered on November 16 and 23 respectively (Journals, pp. 226, 253). See the Special Order made by the House on this matter (Journals, October 5, 2004, pp. 12‑4).

[298] See, for example, Journals, May 31, 2005, p. 810; May 28, 2008, p. 866; May 29, 2008, pp. 877‑8.

[299] Standing Order 81(4)(a). See, for example, the statements by the Chair of the Committee of the Whole at the opening of the debate, Debates, May 7, 2002, p. 11333; November 16, 2004, p. 1439; May 18, 2005, p. 6163; November 1, 2006, p. 4572; May 16, 2007, pp. 9593‑4. At this point in a Committee of the Whole debate, details are normally provided with regard to the order of statements and the rotation of the recognized parties in the House, as well as the duration of questions and answers.

[300] See, for example, Debates, November 16, 2004, pp. 1439‑40, 1449, 1461; May 18, 2005, pp. 6165, 6173; May 28, 2008, pp. 6203, 6208‑9.

[301] Although Members may speak more than once in Committee of the Whole, the Chair will generally try to ensure that all Members wishing to speak are heard before inviting Members to speak again. See, for example, Debates, November 1, 2006, p. 4572. The House frequently adopts special orders enabling a number of Members from the same political party to share the 15 minutes allocated for each statement, or precluding quorum calls, dilatory motions or requests for unanimous consent. See, for example, Journals, June 4, 2002, p. 1471; November 16, 2004, p. 221; November 1, 2006, p. 609; May 27, 2008, p. 852.

[302] On May 27, 2003, during the consideration of votes under JUSTICE in Committee of the Whole, Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot) moved that Vote 1 for the Department of Justice in the amount of $308,238,000 be reduced by $100 million. The Chair expressed doubt that the motion was in the spirit of the kind of debate that the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons had originally intended. Nevertheless, he allowed the motion to go forward but refused, despite requests from some Members, to proceed with a vote on the motion until the Committee had had an opportunity to debate it. That decision was challenged and the Speaker made a ruling sustaining it. He stated that he had found no provisions suggesting that he might take different action, whether in the Special Order made by the House earlier the same day to govern the debate, or in Standing Order 81(4)(a) (Journals, pp. 814‑6, Debates, pp. 6590‑3).

[303] Standing Order 81(17) and (18).

[304] See, for example, Journals, December 6, 2007, pp. 271‑3.

[305] See, for example, Journals, March 12, 2008, pp. 573‑4, 579‑81.

[306]See, for example, Journals, June 5, 2008, pp. 921‑4, 926.

[307] Standing Order 81(14)(a). See, for example, Notice Paper, June 5, 2008, pp. III-IV.

[308] For example, the Standing Committee on Transport reduced Vote 25 under TRANSPORT, in the 2003‑04 main estimates (Journals, May 29, 2003, pp. 825‑6). The vote was later restored by the House (Journals, June 12, 2003, pp. 919‑21) and the full amount was included in the Appropriation Act No. 2, 2003‑2004 (S.C. 2003, c. 13, Schedule 1, p. 48). See also Debates, June 9, 2003, pp. 7030‑1. The following year, the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates reduced Vote 1 under GOVERNOR GENERAL as well as Vote 1 under PRIVY COUNCIL, in the 2004‑05 main estimates (Journals, November 29, 2004, p. 269). However, on this occasion, the reduced budget was upheld by the House (Journals, December 9, 2004, pp. 325, 327‑329) and the smaller amount was included in the Appropriation Act No. 2, 2004‑2005 (S.C. 2004, c. 27, Schedule 1, pp. 22, 40). In the spring of 2003, the government chose not to move to reinstate Vote 45 under JUSTICE, in the 2003‑04 main estimates, a vote which had been reduced by the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (Journals, May 29, 2003, p. 825; June 12, 2003, p. 925; Appropriation Act No. 2, 2003‑2004, S.C. 2003, c. 13, Schedule 1, p. 34). Similarly, the government chose not to move to reinstate Vote 25 under PRIVY COUNCIL, in the 2005‑06 main estimates, a vote that had been reduced by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development to express the Committee’s discontent regarding the appointment of Glen Murray as Chair of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (Journals, April 15, 2005, p. 636; June 14, 2005, pp. 888‑9; Appropriation Act No. 2, 2005‑2006, S.C. 2005, c. 28, Schedule 1, p. 44). See Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, Evidence, April 14, 2005, Meeting No. 33, pp. 20‑1, as well as the Committee’s Fourth Report, presented to the House on March 24, 2005 (Journals, p. 564), and concurred in on April 6, 2005 (Journals, pp. 583‑4).

[309] Standing Order 81(14)(a). See, for example, Notice Paper, June 12, 2003, p. IV; December 9, 2004, p. IV.

[310] Standing Order 81(14)(a).

[311] See, for example, the notice of opposition to the total amount of Vote 1 under PARLIAMENT—The Senate—Program expenditures, in the amount of $58,467,000 (Notice Paper, June 5, 2008, p. III).

[312] See, for example, the notice of opposition to an amount of $250,000 in Vote 10 under NATURAL RESOURCES—Department—Grants and contributions, of the total amount of $256,094,000 (Notice Paper, November 28, 2006, p. IV). See also the notice of opposition to an amount of $38,206,000 in Vote 1 under PARLIAMENT—The Senate—Program expenditures, of the total amount of $53,905,150 (Notice Paper, November 28, 2006, p. IV).

[313] See Speaker Lamoureux’s rulings, Journals, June 22, 1972, pp. 401‑2; February 7, 1973, p. 102; December 10, 1973, pp. 736‑7.

[314] Standing Order 81(20).

[315] See Speaker Jerome’s ruling, Journals, March 24, 1976, pp. 1144‑5. A vote in supplementary estimates, for which a notice of opposition had been given, was defeated in the House (Debates, March 26, 1973, pp. 2620‑6).

[316] See, for example, Journals, June 5, 2008, pp. 921‑4, Notice Paper, p. III.

[317] See Debates, June 8, 1999, pp. 16069, 16079‑81, Notice Paper, pp. VII‑LIV.

[318] The House ordered that the 2002‑03 Supplementary Estimates (A) be amended by reducing Vote 1a under JUSTICE by the amount of $62,872,916 and Vote 5a under JUSTICE by $9,109,670. This agreement was reached after a Member had submitted two notices of opposition to similar amounts in the same two votes. See Notice Paper, December 3, 2002, pp. III‑IV; Journals, December 5, 2002, pp. 263, 266‑268; Appropriation Act No. 3, 2002-2003, S.C. 2002, c. 27, Schedule 1, p. 22.

[319] See, for example, Journals, December 9, 2004, p. 332; June 5, 2008, pp. 923‑4.

[320] Standing Order 81(17) and (18)(d).

[321] See, for example, Journals, June 8, 1994, pp. 546‑7.

[322] Standing Order 81(17). See Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, December 10, 1973, p. 736.

[323] Standing Order 81(18)(a).

[324] Standing Order 81(18)(b). See, for example, Journals, June 5, 2008, p. 919.

[325] Standing Order 81(18)(c). See, for example, Journals, June 6, 2002, pp. 1484‑9. Frequently, the House has adopted by unanimous consent a special order to reduce the length of the debate on the estimates motion. See, for example, Journals, June 11, 2003, p. 906; June 12, 2003, pp. 918‑9; June 7, 2007, pp. 1490‑1; June 3, 2008, p. 900; June 5, 2008, p. 919.

[326] While Standing Order 81(18) enumerates the items that must be called to a vote, the rule does not establish the sequence; this has been established by practice.

[327] Standing Order 81(21).

[328] On March 22, 2005, the House concurred in Bill C‑42, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2006, based on interim supply concurred in earlier in the sitting (Journals, pp. 536‑8; Appropriation Act No. 1, 2005‑2006, s. 2). The motion to concur in interim supply stated that a sum not exceeding $20,524,196,055.76 be granted to Her Majesty on account of the fiscal year, including six‑twelfths of the total of the amount of SOLICITOR GENERAL (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), Votes 50 and 85 (Schedule 1.5), or $15,835,000.00. Bill C‑42, on the other hand, sought to obtain only authority to spend $20,516,278,555.76, including three‑twelfths of the total of votes 50 and 85 under SOLICITOR GENERAL (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness), or $7,944,500.00. As the maximum amount provided in Bill C‑42 was less than the amount appropriated through interim supply, the difference between the two amounts did not infringe on the financial initiative of the Crown.

[329] Standing Order 81(21).

[330] See, for example, Bill C‑49, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2009 (Journals, March 12, 2008, p. 581).

[331] See Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, December 10, 1973, p. 737; Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, March 20, 1991, p. 18732; Speaker Parent’s ruling, Debates, June 8, 1999, p. 16065. See also Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 417; Journals, April 30, 1879, p. 335, Debates, p. 1668; Journals, May 6, 1879, p. 367.

[332] See the point of order raised by John Williams (St. Albert) on Bill C‑86, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial years ending March 31, 2000 and March 31, 2001, and Speaker Parent’s subsequent ruling (Debates, June 8, 1999, pp. 16053, 16065‑6).

[333] See Debates, June 8, 1999, p. 16082. See also Debates, December 13, 1999, pp. 2775‑7, 2783‑4.

[334] From 1867 to 1939, the estimates were printed separately in English and French, with neither version ordered alphabetically. From 1939 to 1970, the estimates continued to be printed separately but each version listed the departments alphabetically, according to their English titles. In 1970, the first bilingual edition of the Estimates was published, in tumble format and ordered alphabetically according to their title in the language in which they were printed. Only the schedules in the supply bills continued to list the departments alphabetically in the English text, with the French translation of those schedules appearing on the opposite pages. Following complaints by Members, departments began to be listed alphabetically in the schedules, in each language. See, for example, Debates, February 16, 1973, pp. 1385‑6; June 26, 1973, p. 5098; December 10, 1973, p. 8609; December 6, 1989, pp. 6581‑2. The first such bill was Appropriation Act No. 2, 1990‑91, S.C. 1990, c. 33. See remarks by Marcel Prud’homme (Saint‑Denis) on the matter (Debates, June 6, 1990, pp. 12420‑1).

[335] Standing Order 81(17) and (18).

[336] See, for example, Debates, June 5, 2008, p. 6573.

[337] See also Chapter 16, “The Legislative Process”.

[338] Standing Orders 81(21) and 73(4). See, for example, Journals, June 5, 2008, pp. 923‑5. See also Chapter 19, “Committees of the Whole House”.

[339] On occasion, through special orders, the House has agreed to debate a supply bill at the second reading stage (see, for example, Journals, March 21, 1977, p. 598; March 24, 1977, p. 621; June 22, 1989, p. 431; June 27, 1989, p. 467) and at the Committee of the Whole stage (see, for example, Journals, October 23, 1974, p. 82, Debates, p. 639; Journals, October 24, 1974, p. 83; October 25, 1974, p. 86).

[340] Standing Orders 81(22) and 43.

[341] See also Chapter 19, “Committees of the Whole House”.

[342] See Debates, June 8, 1999, p. 16082; June 5, 2008, p. 6659.

[343] Standing Order 76.1(12).

[344] The Deputy to the Governor General is referred to as “Your Honour”.

[345] See, for example, Journals, December 14, 2007, pp. 328‑9. On May 17, 1995, the House concurred in the Seventy‑Seventh Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs requiring that the Journals reproduce the form of words used by the Speaker and the Clerk of the Senate. See the Committee’s Seventy‑Seventh Report, presented to the House on May 10, 1995 (Journals, p. 1456), and concurred in on May 17, 1995 (Journals, p. 1492).

[346] See, for example, Journals, March 13, 2008, pp. 600‑1. For further information about the declaration of Royal Assent to bills passed by the Houses of Parliament, see Chapter 16, “The Legislative Process”.

[347] See, for example, Journals, April 4, 1989, pp. 20‑1; May 23, 1991, p. 59; March 4, 1996, pp. 34‑5, 39‑41; September 23, 1997, p. 14; October 5, 2004, pp. 12‑4; April 4, 2006, pp. 13‑4.

[348] See, for example, Journals, April 4, 1989, p. 20; April 4, 2006, pp. 13‑4.

[349] See, for example, Journals, September 23, 1997, p. 14; April 4, 2006, pp. 13‑4.

[350] See, for example, Journals, April 4, 2006, pp. 13‑4.

[351] See, for example, Journals, April 4, 1989, pp. 20‑1; May 23, 1991, p. 59; March 4, 1996, pp. 34‑5; September 23, 1997, p. 14; October 5, 2004, pp. 12‑4; April 4, 2006, pp. 13‑4.

[352] See, for example, Journals, April 4, 1989, p. 21; September 23, 1997, p. 14; April 4, 2006, pp. 13‑4.

[353] See, for example, Journals, June 22, 1989, p. 431.

[354] Standing Order 82.

[355] See Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, February 7, 1973, pp. 102‑3. See also Debates, February 7, 1973, pp. 1052‑61.

[356] See Speaker Lamoureux’s ruling, Journals, February 7, 1973, p. 103.

Top of Page