Voters send Members to the House of Commons-the official meeting place of the elected representatives of the Canadian people. Members' daily duties include responsibilities in several areas. Their work is carried out in the Chamber, in committee, in Members' offices in Ottawa and in their constituencies, and in caucus. They also represent Canadians internationally and welcome foreign visitors to our country.
Members debate and vote on legislation, present documents and petitions, ask and respond to questions and raise issues of importance to their constituents in the Chamber. In doing so, they are fulfilling their constitutional mandate to keep the government accountable.
Members' responsibilities also include work in the various committees. Committees investigate current matters, study proposed legislation and receive input from citizens and other experts about important issues.
As most Members belong to a political party, one of their duties at the House of Commons is to discuss policies and parliamentary strategy at regular party caucus meetings. The parties have staff who provide research and other support to the caucus and who help Members with their responsibilities in the Chamber and in committees.
Members have a responsibility to be available to constituents who want to discuss matters of concern or who need help with federal programs and services. All Members maintain offices and staff in their constituencies, to allow the public to be in touch with them at any time. One week per month is usually scheduled for Members to return to these offices to meet with constituents, and longer periods are scheduled for this purpose during the summer and from late December through late January.
In their role promoting democratic institutions and strengthening ties with other countries, Members represent Canada internationally and receive visitors from abroad.
Members of Parliament come from different walks of life
and age groups: they have diverse cultural backgrounds
and they bring a wealth of personal and professional
experience to the House of Commons.
Members of the 40th Parliament are knowledgeable in finance, law, journalism, education, farming, the environment, the arts, health, labour studies and science. The membership of the House includes representatives of the Inuit, Métis and First Nations and many Members who were born outside of Canada in countries as varied as Italy, England, India, China, Greece, Portugal and Tanzania.
Most Members of the 40th Parliament belong to one of four recognized political parties, although they may also sit as an independent Member. The parties are the Bloc Québécois, the Conservative Party of Canada, the Liberal Party of Canada and the New Democratic Party of Canada.
Information on Members of Parliament
To learn more about Members of Parliament, visit the Parliament of Canada Web site at www.parl.gc.ca. Also, please refer to the insert in the middle of this report for photographs of the Members of the 40th Parliament.
Opportunities to Become Involved
Canadians can observe the activities in the House of
Commons in several ways. Visitors are welcome to watch
sittings in the Chamber. Please consult the Parliament
of Canada Web site at www.parl.gc.ca
to make sure a planned visit to Ottawa coincides with a
sitting day, and either contact individual Members for
passes to the Visitors' Gallery or watch the
proceedings from the public galleries (subject to space
availability). Alternatively, Canadians can watch each
day's sitting in the Chamber and many of the committee
meetings live on the Internet-go to http://parlvu.parl.gc.ca.
Each committee has its own page on the www.parl.gc.ca
Web site. Committees' Web pages have information on how
to watch a meeting in person or to participate. There
is also a contact link for directing questions.
Visitors to Parliament Hill are encouraged to take guided tours, which include information about the workings of Parliament. For more information, go to www.parl.gc.ca. Last year, more than 650,000 visitors, including almost 59,000 students, took guided tours of the Parliamentary Precinct. Also, visitors are welcome to walk around the grounds and enjoy the architecture, the national capital landscape, the flowers, the lighting, the statues, and the view.
A Parliamentary Milestone
Speaker Peter Milliken is the longest-serving Speaker in the Canadian House of Commons. In October 2009, he passed the milestone of eight years, eight months and thirteen days in the Speaker's chair, a record held by former Speaker Lucien Lamoureux since 1974.