House of Commons Procedure and Practice

Second Edition, 2009

House of Commons Procedure and Practice - 24. The Parliamentary Record - Parliamentary Publications


The following publications of the House of Commons are described in this chapter:

*       Journals: The official record of what is done in the House, drawn from the scroll kept by Table Officers during the sittings of the House and signed by the Clerk of the House.

*       Debates: The transcribed, edited and corrected record of what is said in the House and in a Committee of the Whole.

*       Order Paper and Notice Paper: The Order Paper is the official agenda of the House, produced for each sitting day, and listing all items that may be brought forward in the Chamber on that day. The Notice Paper contains notices of items which Ministers and Members may wish to bring before the House.

*       Projected Order of Business: A document, produced each day the House sits, containing an unofficial forecast of the order of business for the House that day, including such information as the length of speeches and any time limits on debate.

*       Status of House Business: Updated daily when the House is sitting, this document provides cumulative information on the status of bills, motions and written questions.

*       Minutes of Proceedings, Evidence and Reports of Committees: These three documents form the records produced by parliamentary committees: the “minutes” being the official record of business; the “evidence” being the verbatim transcript of proceedings held in public; and the “reports” containing the observations and recommendations that committees make to the House.

*       Bills: A bill is a proposed law, submitted to Parliament for its approval.

In 1994, the House began to distribute its publications electronically and, the following year, it began the process of making its publications accessible worldwide through the Parliament of Canada Web site.[1] The growing accessibility of official publications by electronic means rationalized the production and distribution of the printed product.[2]

*   Governing Provisions

The House of Commons has exclusive control of its publications.[3] These documents are published under the authority of the House (as represented by the Speaker or the Clerk). All parliamentary publications are produced in both official languages. The Constitution and the Official Languages Act provide for the use and equal status of the official languages in the “records and journals” of Parliament.[4]

Many of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons make explicit reference to the Journals, the Debates, the Order Paper and the Notice Paper.[5] These publications, along with minutes of committees and bills introduced in the House of Commons, are produced by order of the House, under the authority of the Speaker and are considered “official” publications. Other unofficial publications (for example, the Projected Order of Business and the Status of House Business) have come into existence through administrative decisions or following recommendations of committees. The Status of House Business is published under the authority of the Speaker, while the Projected Order of Business is published under the authority of the Clerk of the House.

The Standing Orders confer on the Clerk of the House responsibility for the preparation of House documents, as well as the safekeeping of parliamentary documents and records.[6]

*   The Journals

The Journals record all that is done, or deemed done, by the House. They are the minutes of the meetings of the House[7] and as such, the authoritative record of its proceedings, which may be used as evidence in a court of law.[8] The Journals are prepared by House staff under the authority of the Clerk. The basis of the Journals is the scroll—notes and records kept by the Clerk of the House and other Table Officers in the course of a sitting. Formerly, the House produced daily Votes and Proceedings which were not designated as Journals until they had been revised and bound at the end of the session. Since September 1994, revised weekly Journals have been produced as well as unrevised daily Journals.[9]

No explicit authority exists by which the Journals are published. At the time of Confederation, the then Votes and Proceedings were published under a Sessional Order[10] which read as follows:

That the Votes and Proceedings of this House be printed, being first perused by Mr. Speaker, and that he do appoint the printing thereof, and that no person but such as he shall appoint, do presume to print the same.[11]

The record has since been produced without interruption; by the late 1870s, however, the practice of adopting a sessional order appeared to have fallen into disuse.[12]

When the House is sitting, the printed unrevised Journals for a given sitting are available on the morning of the following weekday; revised compilations are published on a weekly basis. The Journals are also available in electronic format on the Parliament of Canada Web site within a few hours of the adjournment of the House. At the end of a session, a compilation of the revised Journals along with other information is produced in a limited number of bound copies;[13] and a CD‑ROM of this information is made available at the end of a Parliament.

Format and Contents

Until the Second Session of the Thirtieth Parliament (1976‑77), the Journals were printed in separate English and French editions; thereafter they have been printed in a bilingual side‑by‑side format. The Journals follow the order of proceedings in the House and succinct entries are made of the business conducted and decisions taken by the House.

The Standing Orders expressly state that a record is to be made in the Journals when a vote is cast by the Chair and reasons are given,[14] when documents and papers are tabled, presented or filed, including petitions and reports from committees and parliamentary delegations,[15] and when a question is made an Order for Return.[16] In the event the House adjourns for want of a quorum, the names of Members present are to be recorded in the Journals.[17] Similarly, when a recorded vote has taken place, and Members have been registered as paired, their names are to be recorded in the Journals.[18] When a bill involving expenditure of public funds is introduced in the House, the accompanying royal recommendation is recorded, as are royal recommendations accompanying report stage motions in amendment.[19] During adjournments of the House, when Royal Assent is granted by written declaration, the Speaker may inform the House by having published in the Journals the message received concerning the written declaration of Royal Assent, as well as the prior messages from the Senate concerning every bill in the declaration.[20] Also, when the Clerk of Petitions reports to the House following the presentation of a petition for a private bill, the report is published in the Journals[21], and further Journals entries are made at subsequent points in the legislative process with regard to private bills.[22]

The Journals contain no record of debate in the House, except to note that it took place on a question. Likewise, no record is made of the proceedings or decisions taken in a Committee of the Whole, except to note when a Committee of the Whole sits, reports progress and reports a bill with or without amendment. When amendments are reported, they are published in the Journals.

Corrections and Alterations

The daily Journals are revised and corrections or changes are incorporated prior to publication of the weekly Journals. The accuracy of the record has rarely been questioned.[23] Errors or omissions have on occasion been brought to the attention of the House;[24] editorial errors are corrected by those responsible for the publication.[25] On one occasion, the Speaker informed the House that the record of the previous day’s proceedings had to be reprinted to correct a number of inaccuracies in voting lists.[26] On another occasion, the Speaker informed the House that a decision on a motion recorded in the previous day’s Journals could not stand, as it rested on one incorrectly recorded vote.[27]

*   The Debates

The House of Commons Debates, commonly known as the Debates or as Hansard,[28] is the report in extenso of the debates which take place in the House and in a Committee of the Whole, with due regard to necessary grammatical, vocabulary and editorial changes.

In the pre‑Confederation assemblies, and for some years after Confederation, there was no official reporting of debates in the House of Commons.[29] Contemporary newspapers carried accounts of legislative proceedings including debates, with varying degrees of thoroughness, accuracy and impartiality.

After Confederation, there were attempts to establish a reporting service, which did not succeed as not all Members were convinced of the need.[30] In 1875, reporting of proceedings in the House of Commons began to be carried out on a contract basis, overseen by a committee of the House and in accordance with guidelines meant to ensure the accuracy of the record.[31] Over time, the system of contract reporting was found wanting, and the House came to the view that an improved and comprehensive official parliamentary report was needed.[32] In April 1880, the House concurred in a committee report which recommended, in the interests of “greater permanency” and “a higher state of efficiency”, that the House engage its own permanent reporting staff.[33] Thus, verbatim reporting of debates became an official function of the House under the control of a committee of the House. In 1882, with the adoption of a report from a committee appointed to supervise the Official Report of the Debates, the House agreed to produce an index to the Debates.[34]

The Debates are published under the authority of the Speaker of the House. They are compiled using the audio recording of the proceedings as well as information provided by Reporting Service staff stationed on the floor of the House. They are produced in both official languages and are available on the following weekday. The Debates are also available in electronic format on the Parliament of Canada Web site within several hours of the adjournment of the House. At the end of a session, a compilation of the revised Debates is produced in a limited number of bound copies and a CD‑ROM is made available at the end of a Parliament.

Format and Contents

The Debates are published under separate cover in each official language, with uniformity of pagination between the two editions.[35] The language used by the Member speaking is indicated.[36] Like the Journals, the Debates follow the actual order of proceedings in the House, based on the order of business for the sitting; unlike the Journals, the Debates contain the full deliberations of the House: speeches and statements of Members as well as other comments and interventions made in the Chamber. It is not considered usual or regular to include in the Debates material not delivered in the Chamber; however, some exceptions exist. For example, the Debates contain:

*       division lists, when a recorded division takes place (paired Members are included);[37]

*       written answers to questions on the Order Paper;[38]

*       the text of the Speech from the Throne at the beginning of each session; and

*       other material specifically ordered by the House.[39]

For information purposes, the House has occasionally agreed to publish a text as an appendix to the Debates.[40] In certain circumstances, editorial notes may also be inserted.[41] Each Friday,[42] the Debates contain an appendix including the following lists:

*       Chair Occupants;

*       members of the Board of Internal Economy;

*       Members of the House of Commons listed alphabetically and by province, including constituency name and political affiliation;

*       committees and their membership;

*       the Panel of Chairs of Legislative Committees;

*       the Ministry, with ministerial titles and according to precedence; and

*       Parliamentary Secretaries.

Corrections and Alterations

The unedited in extenso transcriptions of the Debates, at one time produced on blue paper, continue to be known as the “blues”. The Reporting Service staff sends to a Member who speaks in the House the transcription of his or her intervention.[43] The blues are available on Intraparl, Parliament’s internal Web site, and are also sent to the Press Gallery. Question Period blues are sent to the offices of party leaders, party research offices and the office of the Speaker. The blues may also be made available on request to other Members, to the Clerk and to senior House officials. At times, the Chair has referred to the blues in deciding points of order or grievances raised by Members.[44] However, the blues are a preliminary copy and are not to be quoted from during debate.[45]

Hansard e-blues permit Members and their authorized delegates to use the Web page or e‑mail to submit suggested changes to their text for consideration by the editorial staff of the Reporting Service. Members may suggest corrections to errors and minor alterations to the transcription but may not make material changes in the meaning of what was said in the House. It is a long‑standing practice of the House that editors of the Debates may exercise judgment as to whether or not changes suggested by Members constitute the correction of an error or a minor alteration.[46] The editors may likewise alter a sentence to render it more readable but may not go so far as to change its meaning.[47] Editors must ensure that the Debates are a faithful reflection of what was said; any changes made, whether by Members or editors, are for the sole purpose of improving the readability of the text, given the difference between the spoken and written word.

In order for corrections and alterations to be considered, the blues must be returned within stipulated deadlines. Returned blues must be clearly approved by the Member or an authorized delegate. If a Member’s blues are not returned, it is assumed there are no suggested modifications to be made.

Substantial errors in the Debates, as opposed to editorial changes, must be brought to the attention of the House by means of a point of order, as soon as possible after the sitting, if a Member wishes to have the verbatim record changed. Such mishaps may be attributed to a misstatement on the part of the Member, or to a transcription error.[48] A Member may correct the record of his or her own statement, but may not correct that of another Member.[49] When a question arises in the House as to the accuracy of the record, it is the responsibility of the Speaker to look into the matter.[50] On occasion, the Speaker has seen fit to order the printing of a corrigendum to the Debates.[51]

Since the advent of broadcasting of House proceedings, occasional points of order have been raised on the basis of discrepancy in the content of the Debates and the broadcast tape.[52] While such matters have been resolved as they arose, the Speaker, in 1978, noted:

An examination of the record through these electronic recording devices is being resorted to by more and more Canadians all the time. Therefore, additional strain is being put on the reporting staff who have enjoyed this editorial licence in the past. They now find themselves under the constraint of matching their records exactly with the language used on the radio and television.[53]

In 1986, the Speaker repeated these remarks and suggested that the issue of the official status of the electronic Hansard ought to be clarified.[54] Until this occurs, each discrepancy must be examined on its own merit.[55]

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*   The Order Paper and Notice Paper

The Order Paper and the Notice Paper are published together daily when the House sits. The Order Paper is the complete and authoritative agenda of all items of business which may be considered by the House of Commons; unless otherwise provided for in the Standing Orders, only those items may be considered by the House during a sitting. As its name suggests, the Notice Paper contains all items for which notice must be given. Together, these documents contain virtually all items of business which are before the House or which may be brought before the House.

The rules of the House require notice to be given before almost any matter of substance can be raised for consideration by the House.[56] The sponsoring Member gives notice by sending a secure electronic notice, or a written and signed notice, to the Clerk for inclusion in the Notice Paper. Notices given or deemed given on a particular day are published in that day’s Notice Paper and transferred to the Order Paper after the applicable notice period has elapsed. All items, with the exception of Government Orders, are to be taken up in accordance with the precedence assigned them on the Order Paper.[57] Thus, the Order Paper has a double significance. It contains, first, all items of business to be considered (orders), and, second, the sequence in which the orders are to be considered.[58]

The Standing Orders require the Clerk of the House to provide the Speaker, each day before the House meets, with the official agenda of proceedings for the day.[59] This rule has traditionally been interpreted to mean that the Speaker must be in possession of a copy of the Order Paper and Notice Paper before the business of the House may proceed.

Historical Perspective

The Order Paper originated as a document containing any item of business which the House had ordered to be taken up on a specified day. The Order Paper still contains such items;[60] other items are placed on the Order Paper not because the House has adopted an order but because the Standing Orders require it, after proper notice.[61]

Formerly, it was the practice for notices submitted by Members to be appended to the Votes and Proceedings of the sitting during which the notice was given.[62] The current practice of producing the Notice Paper with the Order Paper began on October 27, 1969, when the House was in the process of computerizing its production processes for publications.[63] On April 4, 2005, the E-Notices Web site was introduced, enabling Members to submit notices of motions and written questions electronically for inclusion in the Notice Paper.[64]

Role of the Speaker

As with other parliamentary publications, the Order Paper and Notice Paper is published under the authority of the Speaker of the House. When a notice is submitted for inclusion on the Notice Paper, it is examined by procedural staff of the Clerk. If any procedural irregularity is found, modifications as to the form and content of the notice may then be made in consultation with the sponsoring Member.[65] Where items of Private Members’ Business are concerned, it may happen that a certain item for which notice has been given is deemed to be substantially the same as another. In such cases, the rules give the Speaker discretionary power to refuse the most recent notice, inform the Member and return the item.[66]

Format and Contents

The Order Paper and Notice Paper is a bilingual publication, available electronically and in a printed version. The part containing the Order Paper is divided into sections corresponding to the various categories of orders the House considers:

*       Order of Business: Items of business that can be dealt with in a given sitting follow a predetermined sequence outlined in the Standing Orders. The sequence of items varies from day to day, and includes: Daily Routine of Business, Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers (Wednesdays only), Orders of the Day, Statements by Members, Oral Questions and Private Members’ Business.

*       Privilege, Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne and Statutory Debates: Items which are already before the House and are awaiting first consideration, resumption of debate, or decision. When debate on a privilege motion is not concluded by the time of adjournment, then on the next sitting day the item takes priority over all other Orders of the Day and appears on the Order Paper in first position in the Orders of the Day. Similarly, when the Order of the Day is called to resume debate on the motion for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, the Order takes precedence over all other business of the House, except the Daily Routine of Business and Private Members’ Business, and appears on the Order Paper in first position in the Orders of the Day.[67] Finally, when a statute requires that a debate take place on the use of an instrument of delegated legislation and as soon as the notice period has expired, the item appears on the Order Paper in first position in the Orders of the Day.

*       Government Orders: Items which are already before the House and are awaiting first consideration, resumption of debate, or decision. They are listed under Business of Supply, Ways and Means, Government Bills (Commons), Government Bills (Senate), Government Business and Concurrence In Committee Reports.

*       Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers: This list is published in the Order Paper on Wednesdays only[68] and may be consulted on the Parliament of Canada Web site. On other days of the week, the complete list is available for consultation at the Table in the House, or by consulting the previous Wednesday’s Order Paper on the Parliament of Canada Web site.

*       Private Members’ Business: Items in the Order of Precedence appear in the order in which they are to be considered by the House. The list may change from day to day as items are added or dropped and because the rules allow exchanges of place.[69] Although it is not printed for distribution, the list of items outside the Order of Precedence is available electronically on the Parliament of Canada Web site, and an updated copy is kept for consultation at the Table in the House.

*       Questions: Written questions are printed only when they appear on the Notice Paper. However, the complete list of questions on the Order Paper is available electronically on the Parliament of Canada Web site and at the Table for consultation.

Similar to the Order Paper, items on the Notice Paper are listed under the following categories of business:

*       Introduction of Government Bills;

*       Introduction of Private Members’ Bills;

*       Notices of Motions (Routine Proceedings);

*       Questions;

*       Notices of Motions for the Production of Papers;

*       Business of Supply;

*       Government Business;

*       Private Members’ Notices of Motions;

*       Private Members’ Business;

*       Report Stage of Bills;

*       Motions Respecting Senate Amendments to Bills;

*       Appeal of Designation of an Item of Private Members’ Business; and

*       Statutory Debates.

Transfer from Notice Paper to Order Paper

When the notice requirement for a given item has been met, the notice is transferred to the appropriate section of the Order Paper. Some particularities found in the Notice Paper are worth noting:

*       Notices of opposition to any item in the estimates require only 24 hours’ notice in the supply periods ending not later than December 10 and March 26. However, 48 hours’ written notice must be given in the supply period ending not later than June 23.[70] These notices appear on the Notice Paper under the heading “Business of Supply” and remain in it even after the notice requirement has been met.

*       Motions respecting Senate amendments to a bill require only 24 hours’ notice.[71] They appear on the Notice Paper under the heading “Motions Respecting Senate Amendments to Bills” and remain in it even after the notice requirement has been met.

*       Motions to amend a bill at report stage following second reading also require only 24 hours’ notice.[72] In order to keep all such proposed amendments together, the list of these notices, together with the list of any deferred divisions on report stage motions, are kept in the Notice Paper even after the notice requirement has been met.

*       The Standing Orders require that any item of Private Members’ Business to be considered on a given day must also appear on that day’s Notice Paper; if the notice does not appear, no Private Members’ Business is taken up that day.[73]

*       Written questions appear once on the Notice Paper when notice is given, and are then moved to the list of questions on the Order Paper which is available electronically and at the Table.[74] When a question has been dealt with (answered, made an Order for Return, withdrawn or transferred[75]), it is removed from the Order Paper and its status is noted in the Status of House Business.

Withdrawing Items from the Order Paper

As long as a motion has not been proposed to the House, it remains a notice and the sponsoring Member is free to withdraw it; the consent of the House is not required.[76] A notice may be withdrawn in one of two ways: the Member either makes a written request to the Clerk to withdraw the notice or rises in the House to withdraw the notice orally.[77] This applies to items on the Notice Paper and on the Order Paper, as long as the House has not been seized of them—for example, bills not yet introduced, motions not yet moved[78] and notices of motions for the production of papers.[79] The item is then removed from the Notice Paper or the Order Paper. In addition, in certain circumstances notices have been removed from the Order Paper and Notice Paper by the Speaker upon his being informed, for example, of the death or resignation of a sponsoring Member.[80] On one occasion, the Speaker informed the House that a revised Notice Paper had been prepared, which included notices of report stage amendments inadvertently left off the original.[81]

Once a notice has been transferred to the Order Paper and moved in the House,[82] it is considered to be in the House’s possession and can only be removed from the Order Paper by an order of the House; that is, the Member who has moved the motion requests that it be withdrawn, and the House must give its unanimous consent.[83]

Special Order Paper

From time to time, a Special Order Paper is published.[84] This may happen before the opening of the first or a subsequent session of a Parliament, or when the House stands adjourned and the government wishes the House to give immediate consideration to a matter or matters for which notice would have to be given.[85] Once advised of this, the Speaker ensures that the required notice is published in a Special Order Paper, which is circulated to Members at least 48 hours before the session either begins or resumes.

The format of a Special Order Paper is like that of a regular Order Paper. It contains only the notices of the item or items which are to receive the immediate consideration of the House.

*   The Projected Order of Business

The Order Paper lists all the business which might be taken up by the House on a given day, but it does not indicate which items the government intends, or is likely, to call. The Projected Order of Business, published each sitting day, is a tentative working agenda which lists all the government and private Members’ business expected to be taken up on a particular day. It was first published in 1983 as a result of a special procedure committee’s identification of the need for a “simplified, unofficial, daily agenda, in addition to the Order Paper, to indicate the likely order of business for any particular day”.[86]

Format and Contents

The Projected Order of Business is produced in side‑by‑side bilingual format. A printed version is available and distributed daily to Members when the House sits; in addition, it is available electronically on the Parliament of Canada Web site and may also be viewed on the parliamentary television channel.

Material is organized under a sequence of headings corresponding to the Order of Business for the day, including Government Orders and Private Members’ Business. Entries under the headings indicate which items from the Order Paper are expected to be taken up when that heading is called by the Chair. When no entry appears under items for which notice is required, it may be taken to mean either that the Order Paper has no items listed for that category of business, or that any of the items appearing on the Order Paper under that heading may be taken up. Typically, there would be no entries under items which do not require notice, such as “Tabling of Documents” or “Presenting Petitions”.

In addition, the Projected Order of Business contains notes providing the reader with information, such as the length of bells for recorded divisions, the length of speeches and any time limits on debate (with reference to the applicable Standing or Special Orders) applying to items expected to come before the House, as well as a projection of business for subsequent days. The projection is based on the Order of Precedence for Private Members’ Business, on orders of the House such as those relating to the taking of deferred recorded divisions or to the holding of special debates, and on the weekly statement on government business.[87]

Subject to Change

Items listed under the heading of Government Orders are included on the basis of the weekly business statements and information provided to the Clerk by the office of the Government House Leader. As indicated on the document itself, the listing is subject to change without notice, as the government retains its right to determine the sequence in which items of government business are called and considered.[88]

*   The Status of House Business

The Status of House Business provides a concise history of each item of business which has been considered by the House or which has appeared on the Order Paper and Notice Paper since the beginning of the session or, in the case of private Members’ items, since the beginning of the Parliament. Produced under the authority of the Speaker, it is available electronically and updated daily. Until the end of the Thirty‑Fifth Parliament (1994‑97), the Status of House Business was printed approximately once a month when the House was sitting.

Format and Contents

The Status of House Business is produced in both official languages and has five parts. Part I contains the legislative history of all the government bills introduced in the House and Senate, as well as all motions under Government Orders (motions in relation to the business of supply, ways and means motions and government business). Part II provides similar information on private Members’ bills introduced in the House, Senate bills, private bills and private Members’ motions (including motions for the production of papers). Part III contains information on all written questions submitted by private Members, while Part IV provides information about motions for concurrence in committee reports and other motions regarding standing and special committees. Part V contains information on motions which deal with other business of the House, such as the times of sitting of the House and its order of business, amendments to the Standing Orders and emergency debates.

The Status of House Business is accompanied by an alphabetical, subject‑based index. References in this index are to the various items of business and sections of the document. Lists are provided under certain headings, such as Government Bills, Private Members’ Bills, Government Business, Business of Supply and Ways and Means.

*   Minutes of Proceedings, Evidence and Reports of Committees

Each committee of the House produces its own records. Since 1995, these records have become available primarily by electronic means. They include three main documents:

*       the Minutes of Proceedings: the formal record of business occurring during a committee meeting;

*       the Evidence: the in extenso transcript of what is said during a committee meeting;[89] and

*       reports to the House: the means by which committees make their views and recommendations known.

All committee records are made available electronically under the authority of the Speaker of the House. Under the Standing Orders, committees are empowered to print papers and evidence as may be ordered by them.[90] However, this authority is somewhat qualified by limitations set by the Board of Internal Economy.[91]

Corrections and Alterations

Unedited transcripts of committee proceedings, known (as with the Debates) as “blues”, are made available to users of Intraparl, Parliament’s internal Web site, usually within 24 hours after a committee meets. Traditionally, minor corrections can be effected by submitting the proposed change to the editors; corrections of a more significant nature are made by the committee itself as a corrigendum.[92] Should this happen, the electronic version is expeditiously updated. In 1993, the decision of a committee to alter its official record by expunging portions of testimony gave rise to a question of privilege in the House. The Speaker’s ruling established that a committee’s power to print includes the right not to print, which may be extended to a decision to omit evidence from the record.[93]

*   Bills

The House of Commons considers proposed laws—or bills—submitted for its approval by Ministers or private Members. Bills originating in the House are published and circulated under the authority of the Speaker; they are also available in electronic format. They are designated by letter and number in accordance with the type of bill and its chamber of origin. Bills originating in the House and sponsored by Ministers are numbered from C‑1 to C‑200, in the order of their introduction during a session. Bills originating in the House and sponsored by private Members are numbered from C‑201 to C‑1000 throughout a Parliament. Senate government bills are numbered from S‑1 to S‑200, while Senate public bills are numbered from S‑201 to S‑1000. Numbers from S‑1001 onward are reserved for private bills. While most private bills originate in the Senate, those originating in the Commons are numbered from C‑1001. All bills originating in the House are published in both official languages by order of the House.[94]

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[1] See minutes of the meeting of the Board of Internal Economy on June 21, 1995, tabled in the House on October 16, 1995 (Journals, p. 2012). The Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament jointly created and maintain the Parliament of Canada Web site ( which provides information on the Parliament of Canada.

[2] See minutes of the meeting of the Board of Internal Economy on April 12, 1994, tabled in the House on May 12, 1994 (Journals, p. 461), and September 19, 1995, tabled in the House on December 1, 1995 (Journals, p. 2199).

[3] See May, T.E., Erskine May’s Treatise on The Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament, 23rd ed., edited by Sir W. McKay, London: LexisNexis UK, 2004, p. 98; Maingot, J.P.J., Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, 2nd ed., Montreal: House of Commons and McGill‑Queen’s University Press, 1997, pp. 40‑4. For further information, see Chapter 3, “Privileges and Immunities”.

[4] Subsection 18(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982 (R.S. 1985, Appendix II, No. 44) states: “The statutes, records and journals of Parliament shall be printed and published in English and French and both language versions are equally authoritative”. This repeats a portion of section 133 of the Constitution Act, 1867 (R.S. 1985, Appendix II, No. 5). See also subsection 4(3) and section 5 of the Official Languages Act (R.S. 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.)).

[5] Most such references are to the Order Paper or Notice Paper (see Standing Orders 37(1), 39, 40(1), 54, 55(1), 76(2) and (3), 76.1(2) and (3), 79(2), 86.1, 86.2(1), 87(1)(c), 90, 94(1)(a)(ii), 97(1), 97.1(2)(a), 123(5), 124, 141 and 152); there are also references to the Journals (see Standing Orders 9, 28(5), 29(4), 32(3), 39(7), 44.1(2), 45(1), 79(2), 131(5), 135 and 141(2)(b)) and to the Debates (see Standing Orders 39(3)(b) and 44.1(2)).

[6] Standing Order 151.

[7] Unlike some assemblies, such as the United States House of Representatives, there is no requirement to adopt or approve the minutes at the beginning of the following sitting.

[8] Bourinot, Sir J.G., Parliamentary Procedure and Practice in the Dominion of Canada, 4th ed., edited by T.B. Flint, Toronto: Canada Law Book Company, 1916, pp. 186‑7.

[9] The current system was put into place following decisions taken by the Board of Internal Economy and the adoption of the Twenty‑Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (Journals, June 3, 1994, p. 529). For the text of the report, see Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence, June 1, 1994, Issue No. 14, pp. 4‑5.

[10] An order is a decision of the House governing the conduct of House or committee business. A sessional order is effective for the remainder of the session in which it is adopted.

[11] Journals, November 7, 1867, p. 5.

[12] Sessional Orders for the publication of the Votes and Proceedings were also adopted on the following dates: Journals, April 15, 1869, p. 8; February 15, 1870, p. 8; February 15, 1871, p. 10; April 11, 1872, p. 8; March 6, 1873, p. 5; March 27, 1874, p. 4; February 4, 1875, p. 54; February 8, 1877, p. 12.

[13] The bound Journals, produced at the end of a session for use of the Clerk and the Library of Parliament, contain a comprehensive index, lists and other information of general interest:

proclamations of the Governor General opening and closing the session;

the Ministry in order of precedence, as of the final day of the session;

alphabetical list of Members, including constituency names and party affiliations; and

alphabetical list of constituencies, including Members’ names and party affiliations.

[14] Standing Order 9. For further information on the casting vote of the Chair, see Chapter 7, “The Speaker and Other Presiding Officers of the House”.

[15] Standing Order 32(3). It also happens on occasion that papers are tabled with the unanimous consent of the House. See, for example, Journals, October 21, 1991, p. 496. For further information on tabling of documents, see Chapter 10, “The Daily Program”.

[16] Standing Order 39(7). For further information on responses to written questions, see Chapter 11, “Questions.

[17] Standing Order 29(4). For further information on quorum, see Chapter 9, “Sittings of the House”.

[18] Standing Order 44.1(2). For further information on recorded votes and pairing, see Chapter 12, “The Process of Debate”.

[19] Standing Orders 79(2), 76(3) and 76.1(3). For further information on the royal recommendation, see Chapter 18, “Financial Procedures”.

[20] Standing Order 28(5). As this is not a regular sitting of the House, the Journals assign to it the sitting number of the last regular sitting day of the House, along with a letter. See, for example, Journals, June 20, 2007, p. 1565 (sitting No. 175); June 22, 2007, p. 1583 (sitting No. 175A). This is the case whether the Speaker of the House receives a message signifying Royal Assent by written declaration for one or more bills, or whether the House convenes for the sole purpose of attending Royal Assent. Sitting numbers including a letter also appear in the Journals when Parliament has been prorogued or dissolved during an adjournment and the Speaker is bound to advise the House of the documents, if any, that were deposited with the Clerk of the House during the adjournment. See, for example, Journals, September 14, 2007, p. 1587.

[21] Standing Order 131(5). For further information on private bills, see Chapter 23, “Private Bill Practice”.

[22] Standing Orders 135(1) and (2) and 141(2)(b).

[23] On one occasion when this occurred, the Speaker found that the record was correct (Debates, June 26, 1985, pp. 6203‑4). There have been occasions where the decision was taken to remove items from the Votes and Proceedings (as the daily Journals were formerly known). On April 6, 1925, for example, the Speaker ruled that the Government’s answer to a written question contained unnecessary facts and that it should be “expunged from the records” (Journals, p. 193). On June 6, 1944, the House ordered that a committee report “presented by mistake” be deleted from the Votes and Proceedings (Journals, p. 434). On June 7, 1973, the Speaker informed the House that an item in the Votes and Proceedings of the previous day would be expunged, a Senate public bill having inadvertently been treated as a private bill (Journals, p. 389).

[24] See, for example, Journals, March 31, 1871, pp. 173‑4; Debates, November 6, 1996, p. 6191; Journals, June 20, 2002, p. 1614; Debates, October 7, 2002, pp. 365‑6.

[25] See, for example, the corrigendum appended to the daily version of the Journals for May 30, 2006, and for February 15, 2007.

[26] Debates, June 4, 1992, pp. 11381‑2.

[27] Journals, June 22, 2005, pp. 966‑8, Debates, pp. 7645‑6; Journals, June 23, 2005, p. 976, Debates, pp. 7694‑6.

[28] Hansard is the name of the family responsible for arranging the official reporting of debates in the British House of Commons throughout most of the nineteenth century. The term is now used to refer generally to official reports of parliamentary debates. See Wilding, N. and Laundy, P., An Encyclopaedia of Parliament, 4th ed., London: Cassell & Company Ltd., 1972, pp. 340‑5.

[29] An exception took place in 1865, when by Special Order of the United Canada Legislative Assembly, the debates on Confederation were officially recorded. See the history of Canadian parliamentary reporting in the Introduction to the reconstructed Debates of the Legislative Assembly of United Canada, 18411867, Vol. I, edited by E. Nish, Montreal: Presses de l’École des hautes études commerciales, 1970‑93, pp. XXVIII‑LIV.

[30] Bourinot, 2nd ed., rev. and enlarged, Montreal: Dawson Brothers, Publishers, 1892, pp. 227‑8. Members argued that the newspaper accounts were adequate, that costs to the House of setting up its own service would be prohibitive, and that official verbatim reporting would encourage excessive verbosity and lead to unnecessary lengthening of parliamentary sessions. See, for example, Debates, December 10, 1867, pp. 231‑2; March 27, 1868, pp. 409‑10; April 25, 1870, pp. 1176‑80.

[31] See the First and Second Reports of the select committee appointed to report on the subject of a Canadian Hansard, presented to the House on May 8, 1874 (Journals, pp. 200‑1), and concurred in on May 18, 1874 (Journals, pp. 264‑5).

[32] See, for example, Debates, April 28, 1880, pp. 1815‑9.

[33] See the report of the committee, presented to the House on April 26, 1880 (Journals, pp. 268‑9), and concurred in on April 28, 1880 (Journals, p. 281).

[34] See the report of the committee, presented to the House on March 30, 1882 (Journals, p. 231), and concurred in on April 3, 1882 (Journals, p. 242).

[35] In 1965, after a period of experimentation, the House concurred in a recommendation to proceed to uniform pagination between the English and French versions of the Debates and other publications (Journals, June 1, 1964, pp. 381‑2; April 2, 1965, pp. 1211‑2).

[36] The official language used by a Member is indicated by the notes [English] and [Translation] in the English Debates and [Français] and [Traduction] in the French Debates. Languages other than the two official languages are occasionally used in the House. See Chapter 13, “Rules of Order and Decorum”.

[37] Standing Order 44.1(2).

[38] Standing Order 39(3)(b).

[39] The House has on more than one occasion consented to dispense with the reading of a motion and to have the text published in the Debates as if read. For example, the Speaker will sometimes ask to dispense with the reading of many motions in amendment at report stage (see Debates, December 2, 1998, p. 10794; December 2, 1999, p. 2031; October 3, 2005, pp. 8302‑6). Rarely, the House has consented to have material not read in the House incorporated in the Debates as part of a Member’s speech. See, for example, Debates, March 23, 1971, pp. 4533‑5; December 8, 1997, pp. 2851‑2.

[40] The House has agreed to append such documents as Budget documents (see, for example, Debates, March 16, 1964, pp. 974, 998‑1003), exchanges of correspondence (see, for example, Debates, December 4, 1980, pp. 5356, 5394), reports (see, for example, Journals, November 15, 1977, p. 102, Debates, pp. 920‑2) and texts of addresses to Parliament by foreign dignitaries (see, for example, Journals, February 24, 2004, p. 119; Debates, March 9, 2004, pp. 1293‑8; Journals, May 5, 2006, pp. 134‑5; Debates, May 18, 2006, pp. 1581‑6; Journals, September 18, 2006, p. 358; Debates, September 22, 2006, pp. 3153‑9; Journals, May 16, 2008, pp. 833‑4; Debates, May 26, 2008, pp. 6073‑9). In a very unusual occurrence, the House agreed to append to the Debates the texts of a ministerial statement and two opposition responses, none of which was delivered in the House (Journals, January 25, 1990, p. 1114). On November 20, 2002, the House agreed that the speeches delivered at the unveiling of the official portrait of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney be published as an appendix to the Debates (Journals, November 20, 2002, p. 209, Debates, pp. 1663‑4, 1691‑6).

[41] See, for example, Debates, May 11, 1970, p. 6796 (disturbance in the galleries); June 4, 1993, p. 20356 (remarks in a language other than English or French); September 29, 1994, p. 6348 (sounding of the fire alarm).

[42] Until September 1996, the appendix was attached to Wednesday’s Debates. This information also appears in an electronic version, updated as changes occur, on the Parliament of Canada Web site.

[43] The blues are sent by electronic mail and may occasionally be delivered by hand to a Member in the Chamber. Due to environmental considerations, the automatic faxing of blues was terminated in the Forthieth Parliament.

[44] See, for example, Debates, February 18, 1997, p. 8279.

[45] See Debates, September 24, 1985, p. 6893. At times, the blues have been referred to by Members raising points of order or questions of privilege. See, for example, Debates, March 15, 1996, pp. 786‑7.

[46] See Journals, November 1, 1973, p. 613.

[47] See Debates, March 20, 1978, p. 3925; September 20, 1983, pp. 27299‑300.

[48] See, for example, Debates, November 19, 1969, p. 982; September 26, 1990, p. 13455; November 6, 1996, p. 6191; March 19, 2001, p. 1828; March 20, 2001, p. 1917.

[49] See, for example, Debates, July 9, 1980, p. 2705; May 28, 1982, p. 17872.

[50] See, for example, Debates, October 27, 1994, p. 7318; February 25, 1998, p. 4406; March 26, 2001, pp. 2199‑200; March 27, 2001, p. 2299. There have been occasions where it was decided to expunge text from the Debates (see, for example, Journals, April 6, 1925, p. 193; Debates, July 27, 1942, p. 4798; December 1, 1960, p. 391; June 30, 1972, p. 3724); however, such instances have not formed part of recent House practice.

[51] See, for example, Debates, November 15, 1983, p. 28894; April 1, 2003, p. 5023; April 7, 2003, pp. 5177‑8; April 10, 2003, pp. 5364‑5. In 1995, the Speaker ordered a corrigendum to be printed, having found a substantial difference between a Member’s remarks in the House and in the Debates, and having ruled that the Member’s changes to the blues ought not to have been accepted by the editors of the Debates (Debates, March 16, 1995, pp. 10618‑9).

[52] See, for example, Debates, November 28, 1978, pp. 1569‑70; February 2, 1984, p. 1015; June 6, 1986, pp. 14055‑6.

[53] Debates, November 28, 1978, p. 1570.

[54] Debates, June 6, 1986, pp. 10455‑6.

[55] In the British House of Commons, it has been established that the authoritative version of its deliberations is the printed Debates (May, 23rd ed., p. 271).

[56] Standing Order 54. For further information, see Chapter 12, “The Process of Debate”.

[57] Standing Order 40.

[58] See, for example, Standing Order 66, which stipulates that not more than one motion for the concurrence in a report from a standing or special committee may be moved on any sitting day. When two or more Members rise to move a concurrence motion on the same day, the Speaker moves the motion which was submitted on notice first. See Debates, May 2, 2005, p. 5517; May 3, 2005, p. 5549; May 4, 2005, p. 5661.

[59] Standing Order 152. The rule, which dates from Confederation, has precursors in the pre‑Confederation assemblies. Redlich, tracing the evolution of British parliamentary practice, refers to the establishment in the seventeenth century of the “custom … of making the daily programme known to the House at the beginning of the sitting” (Redlich, J., The Procedure of the House of Commons: A Study of its History and Present Form, Vol. I, translated by A.E. Steinthal, New York: AMS Press, 1969 (reprint of 1908 ed.), p. 47). The 1854 Rules and Standing Orders of the Legislative Assembly of Canada, for example, required the Clerk “to lay on the Speaker’s table, every morning, previous to the meeting of the House, the order of the proceedings for the day”; and secondly, “that a copy of the same be hung up in the lobby, for the information of Members”. This seems to indicate that at that time, the daily distribution of the Order Paper to all Members was not possible and that it was produced by the Clerk, primarily for the Speaker.

[60] For example, after a bill is read a first time, the Speaker asks when it shall be read a second time, and the usual reply is “At the next sitting of the House”. An order for the bill’s second reading is then placed on the Order Paper so that the bill might, in principle, be taken up at that time.

[61] See, for example, Standing Order 56(1).

[62] Bourinot, 4th ed., pp. 295‑6.

[63] For background information, see Small, A., “The Use of Computers in the Bilingual Publishing and Retrieval of Parliamentary Publications”, The Table, Vol. XLII, 1974, pp. 66‑72. The Standing Orders were changed in 1987 to reflect alterations to publications (Journals, June 3, 1987, pp. 1002‑28, in particular p. 1022).

[64] In June 2003, the Special Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons recommended the creation of a portal for the e-filing of notices, which would include a security procedure to verify the authenticity of the notices. See the Fourth Report of the Committee, par. 32, presented to the House on June 12, 2003 (Journals, p. 915), and concurred in on September 18, 2003 (Journals, p. 995). It was in the subsequent Parliament that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs endorsed the proposal for a system for the electronic submission of notices prepared by the staff of the House of Commons. See the Twenty-Sixth Report of the Committee, presented to the House and concurred in on February 9, 2005 (Journals, pp. 407‑8).

[65] This practice has a long history. See Bourinot, South Hackensack, New Jersey: Rothman Reprints Inc., 1971 (reprint of 1st ed., 1884), pp. 308‑9.

[66] Standing Order 86(4). For further information on the interpretation of this rule, see Chapter 21, “Private Members’ Business”.

[67] Should orders relating to the resumption of debate on a privilege motion and on a motion for an Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne both appear in the Order Paper, the entry respecting privilege will precede the entry respecting the Address in the Orders of the Day. See, for example, Order Paper and Notice Paper, March 18, 1996, p. 9. See also Chapter 3, “Privileges and Immunities”, and Chapter 15, “Special Debates”.

[68] See Chapter 10, “The Daily Program”, and Chapter 21, “Private Members’ Business”.

[69] Standing Order 94(2)(a).

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

[71] Standing Order 77(1).

[72] Standing Order 76.1(2). Where report stages precedes second reading, the notice period is 48 hours (Standing Order 76(2)).

[73] Standing Order 94(1).

[74] Under the heading “Questions”, the printed Order Paper refers readers to the electronic version and to the complete list of questions on the Order Paper, which is available for consultation at the Table. At one time all questions were printed on the Order Paper. In 1983, in accordance with the recommendation of a special committee on procedure (see Section 9 in Part II of the Third Report of the Special Committee on Standing Orders and Procedure, presented to the House on November 5, 1982 (Journals, p. 5328), and the Special Order adopted by the House on November 29, 1982 (Journals, p. 5400)), questions began to be printed in a Monthly Supplement to the Order Paper. The Monthly Supplement ceased to be published in 1997 when a recommendation of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (see Minutes, Issue No. 3, pp. 26‑7) was approved by the Board of Internal Economy (see minutes of the meeting of the Board on March 18, 1997, tabled in the House on April 25, 1997 (Journals, p. 1557)).

[75] See Chapter 11, “Questions”.

[76] See Speaker Fraser’s ruling, Debates, December 7, 1989, p. 6584.

[77] See Journals, January 13, 1910, p. 154; Debates, December 7, 1989, p. 6584.

[78] See, for example, Debates, June 19, 1991, p. 2111.

[79] This is one of the options open to Members when the government is unable to accede to the request for the production of papers. See, for example, Debates, March 18, 1981, pp. 8377‑8; April 19, 1989, pp. 691‑2. For further information on notices of motions for the production of papers, see Chapter 10, “The Daily Program”.

[80] For example, notices sponsored by Jean‑Claude Malépart (Montreal–Sainte‑Marie) (died November 16, 1989), Catherine Callbeck (Malpeque) (resigned January 25, 1993) and Stephen Harper (Calgary West) (resigned January 14, 1997) were withdrawn. They included notices of motions for Private Members’ Business (including items in the Order of Precedence), notices of written questions and notices of motions for the production of papers. Private Members’ bills awaiting introduction and notices of motions under Routine Proceedings would also be withdrawn in such circumstances. In another instance, the House concurred in a committee report by unanimous consent, following which an earlier notice of motion to concur in the same report was removed from the Order Paper (Order Paper and Notice Paper, November 25, 1997, p. 9, Journals, p. 257; Order Paper and Notice Paper, November 27, 1997, p. 10).

[81] Debates, September 27, 1971, p. 8173.

[82] In the case of Private Members’ Business, the item must first be placed in the Order of Precedence (Standing Order 87(5)).

[83] Standing Order 64. See, for example, Journals, March 12, 1993, p. 2627, Debates, pp. 16925‑6; Journals, May 11, 1994, p. 451, Debates, p. 4211; Journals, October 3, 2005, p. 1085, Debates, p. 8335.

[84] Standing Order 55. See also Chapter 12, “The Process of Debate”.

[85] See, for example, the Special Order Papers published on September 23, 1997, October 5, 2004, and April 4, 2006 (before the opening of a first session), February 27, 1996 (before the opening of a subsequent session), and August 11, 1987, September 19, 1994, and September 17, 2001 (during an adjournment of the House).

[86] See section 9 in Part II of the Third Report of the Special Committee on Standing Orders and Procedure, presented to the House on November 5, 1982 (Journals, p. 5328). Although the report was not concurred in, a motion agreed to on November 29, 1982 (Journals, p. 5400), put this and other portions of the report into effect. The Projected Order of Business appeared for the first time on January 17, 1983.

[87] For further information on the weekly business statement or “Thursday statement”, see Chapter 10, “The Daily Program”.

[88] Standing Order 40(2). This was emphasized in Speaker Parent’s ruling (Debates, March 20, 1997, pp. 9281‑2).

[89] Evidence is generally transcribed and published on the Parliament of Canada Web site in chronological order. It is standard procedure in the Committees Directorate to give precedence to clause-by-clause meetings over those at which testimony is heard. See Speaker Milliken’s ruling, Debates, November 26, 2001, pp. 7503, 7527.

[90] Standing Orders 108(1)(a) and 113(5). For further information on this and other powers of committees, see Chapter 20, “Committees”.

[91] For example, committee reports may be printed and distributed from time to time in accordance with guidelines established by the Board of Internal Economy. See the Board’s decision of October 29, 1986. On May 9, 2007 (Journals, p. 1375, Debates, p. 9253), the Chair of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development rose on a point of order to clarify an administrative issue related to the presentation, on March 29, 2007 (Journals, p. 1188, Debates, p. 8096), of the Seventh Report of the Committee. In accordance with Standing Order 109, the Committee had agreed to a motion requesting a government response to the Report within 120 days (Minutes of Proceedings, March 22, 2007, Meeting No. 42). The Chair had also requested a government response when he presented the Report to the House but since the request did not appear in the text of the Report itself, it was not printed in the Journals for that sitting. The Chair signed a revised copy of the Report in order to correct this oversight and the Speaker directed the Clerk of the House to take the appropriate administrative measures to address the situation.

[92] 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, p. 233.

[93] See Debates, March 16, 1993, pp. 17071‑2. See also Chapter 20, “Committees”.

[94] Standing Orders 69(1) and 70. See also Chapter 16, “The Legislative Process”.

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