Unlike the provincial legislatures, our federal Parliament is "bicameral," which means it has two chambers:
the Senate, sometimes referred to as the "Upper House," and
the House of Commons or "Lower House"
Generally, the two Houses have equal privileges and powers, but each is far from being a duplicate of the other. From a procedural point of view, many of the events in the two chambers are similar. This bicameral system has a significant impact on the way Parliament works.
This Model Parliament places equal emphasis on both chambers. As the media do not often cover the Senate, students may have a less informed understanding of its role and significance. You will find two complete sets of Student Pre-simulation Activities and simulation scripts: one for the Senate and one for the House of Commons. We encourage you to carry out simulations of both chambers.
It is important that students gain a broad appreciation for the full range of parliamentary activities and not just those that get media attention. Class time, class size and previous instruction in parliamentary procedure will determine your choices. A number of options are presented to provide for flexibility.
Option 1 – Use selected activities to encourage class study of current issues
This list provides suggestions for class simulations that may be carried out as single activities. The accompanying activity sheets require students to investigate current issues in preparation for each simulation activity.
Option 2 – Focus on core activities
This core list focuses on the passage of legislation, one of Parliament's central functions. However, Parliament does many other crucial things and it is important that students understand this, and that as many of the activities as possible are integrated.
Option 3 – Enact the full simulation (see Teacher File)
In order that the Senate and the House of Commons receive equal emphasis, consider one of the following options:
Refer to the Teacher Guide for more detailed suggestions.