PARLIAMENT of CANADA
House of Commons Procedure and Practice
Edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
2000 EditionMore information …
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4. The House of Commons and Its Members

[301] 
See, for example, Debates, September 10, 1985, p. 6473; November 25, 1985, p. 8794; May 27, 1996, p. 3041. In December 1997, the Minister of Finance (Paul Martin) rose on a point of order to indicate that in the process of the House agreeing to apply the results of one vote to another vote, he had been registered as voting for a bill at third reading (Bill C-9, Canada Marine Act). He asked for the unanimous consent of the House to have his vote deleted from the record. Consent was granted. See Debates, December 9, 1997, pp. 3007-9, 3011.
[302] 
See, for example, Debates, May 3, 1886, p. 1011; June 21, 1982, pp. 18708-9.
[303] 
Standing Order 22. This Standing Order was adopted on February 3, 1986, after the Government House Leader addressed the House on the desirability of keeping a registry of the foreign travel of Members. See Debates, November 4, 1985, pp. 8323-7; Journals, February 6, 1986, p. 1664; February 13, 1986, p. 1710.
[304] 
In March 1986, five Members travelled to South Korea at that country’s expense. Certain Members raised objections when it was discovered that some of the travellers had not registered the trip before departing. It became clear in the ensuing discussion that the Standing Order did not specify when the registration should be done and the matter was left to the House Leaders to decide. See Debates, March 18, 1986, pp. 11618, 11624-7.
[305] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, ss. 55, 56 as amended by R.S.C. 1985, c. 38 (2nd supp.), s. 1; S.C. 1991, c. 30, s. 23; S.C. 1993, c. 13, s. 11; S.C. 1994, c. 18, s. 10; and S.C. 1998, c. 23, s. 1. In 1999, Members of the House of Commons received a basic annual salary of $66,900 and an annual tax free expense allowance of between $22,100 and $29,200 (depending on the size of the constituency they represented). In 1867, Members received a sessional indemnity of six dollars a day if a session did not extend beyond 30 days; if the session continued longer, Members received a sessional allowance of $600 (see Bourinot, 4th ed., pp. 153-6). For an overview of the evolution of the sessional indemnity, see Supporting Democracy, Vol. 2, pp. 32-3.
[306] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, ss. 60-2 as amended by S.C. 1998, c. 23, ss. 2-4. The amount of the indemnity varies with the position.
[307] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, s. 63(3).
[308] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, ss. 50-4 as amended by S.C. 1991, c. 20, s. 2 (s. 52.5(1)). In 1998, the Board of Internal Economy increased the limit for Members’ Travel Status Expenses from $6,000 to $12,000 for the 1998-99 fiscal year. See By-law 501 of the By-laws of the Board of Internal Economy.
[309] 
See Debates, June 25, 1952, pp. 3678-80.
[310] 
R.S.C. 1985, c. M-5 as amended by S.C. 1992, c. 46, s. 81, and S.C. 1995, c. 30, s. 11. Contributions under the Actare ordinarily mandatory, but were made optional for Members of the Thirty-Fifth Parliament (1994-97) (see S.C. 1995, c. 30, s. 2). In 1998, amendments to the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowance Act permitted Members who opted out of the pension plan during the Thirty-Fifth Parliament to opt back in (see S.C. 1998, c. 23, s. 10). For Members who chose not to opt back in, a supplementary severance allowance is provided. For additional information, see Manual of Allowances and Services, Chapter F-2, “Retirement Benefits”.
[311] 
Members of Parliament Retiring Allowance Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. M-5, s. 15 as amended by S.C. 1992, c. 46, s. 81.
[312] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, ss. 70(1), 70(4), 71, as amended by S.C. 1998, c. 23, s. 6.
[313] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, s. 70(2).
[314] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, s. 68(1). This provision was added to the Parliament of Canada Act following the 1970 recommendations of an advisory committee appointed to review parliamentary salaries and expenses. For a history and overview of the recommendations of these commissions since 1979, see Supporting Democracy, Vol. 2, pp. 7-17. Budgetary entitlements and other allowances are reviewed annually by the Board of Internal Economy.
[315] 
Report of the Commission to Review Salaries and Allowances of Members of Parliament and Senators, Ottawa, 1979. Alfred D. Hales was the sole commissioner appointed to look into this matter.
[316] 
Report of the Commission to Review Salaries of Members of Parliament and Senators, Ottawa, 1980. Cliff McIsaac and Léon Balcer were the two commissioners.
[317] 
Report of the Commission to Review Salaries of Members of Parliament and Senators, Ottawa, 1985. William H. Clarke and Coline Campbell, former Members of the House of Commons, were appointed to this Commission.
[318] 
Commission to Review Allowances of Members of Parliament, Ottawa, 1989. Gerry St. Germain and Francis Fox, both former Cabinet Ministers, sat on this commission.
[319] 
Democratic Ideals and Financial Realities, Commission to Review Allowances of Members of Parliament, Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services, 1994. This Commission was composed of Charles Lapointe (chair), Jean Pigott (a former Member of the House of Commons) and C.E.S. Franks (a professor of political studies at Queen’s University).
[320] 
Supporting Democracy, Jean-Jacques Blais (chair and former Cabinet Minister), Monique Jérôme-Forget (a public policy expert) and Ray Speaker (a former Member of the House of Commons) were the members.
[321] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, s. 68(2). See, for example, Journals, May 14, 1985, p. 614; October 13, 1989, p. 623; September 19, 1994, p. 690; February 4, 1998, p. 413.
[322] 
Standing Order 32(5). Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(a)(i) which mandates the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to review and report on the administration and provision of services and facilities to Members, the Committee considered the Blais report in 1998 and submitted a response to the House. See the Thirty-Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, presented to the House on June 3, 1998, and concurred in later that day (Journals, p. 929).
[323] 
See Supporting Democracy, Vol. 2, pp. 13-5.
[324] 
See An Act to amend the Senate and House of Commons Act, the Parliamentary Secretaries Act and the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act, S.C. 1980-81-82-83, c. 77; An Act to amend the Senate and House of Commons Act, S.C. 1986, c. 50; An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act, S.C. 1991, c. 20; An Act to amend the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act and to provide for the continuation of a certain provision, S.C. 1995, c. 30; An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act, the Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act and the Salaries Act, S.C. 1998, c. 23. See also Debates, July 9, 1981, pp. 11370-6; November 19, 1986, pp. 1337-9; May 4, 1995, pp. 12151-6; June 11, 1998, pp. 8060-2.
[325] 
R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1 as amended by S.C. 1991, c. 20, s. 2 (ss. 52.3 and 52.5(1)(b)). For more information on the Board of Internal Economy, see Chapter 6, “The Physical and Administrative Setting”.
[326] 
By-law 101 of the By-laws of the Board of Internal Economy of the House of Commons.
[327]
House Officers include leaders of parties, House leaders, whips, the Speaker and other presiding officers.
[328] 
See By-law 501 of the By-laws of the Board of Internal Economy of the House of Commons.
[329] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, as amended by S.C. 1991, c. 20, s. 2 (s. 52.6(1)). In its Fourth Report presented and adopted on June 1, 1990, the Special Committee on the Review of the Parliament of Canada Act proposed amendments to the Parliament of Canada Act to clarify the jurisdiction and the authority of the Board of Internal Economy (Journals, June 1, 1990, pp. 1797-1804). In particular, the Special Committee wanted to ensure that Members would not be exposed to charges or proceedings based on a misunderstanding of the nature of their work or the structure and rules of the House of Commons.
[330] 
See s. 7 of By-law 102 of the By-laws of the Board of Internal Economy of the House of Commons.
[331] 
In 1991, Louis Plamondon (Richelieu) rose on a question of privilege after his parliamentary precinct offices had been entered and all his documents, files and personal effects, and those of his staff, had been removed to another building without his consent. The Speaker ruled that it was an administrative matter to be settled outside the Chamber (Debates, April 8, 1991, pp. 19126-7). See also Debates, April 9, 1991, pp. 19232-3; April 11, 1991, p. 19340.
[332] 
Electoral and geographic supplements, where applicable, are made available to Members and are integrated into the Member’s Office Budget. The electoral supplement is a graduated supplement available to eligible constituencies where the number of electors exceeds 70,000. The geographic supplement is also a graduated supplement for constituencies where the geographic area to be served is 8,000 sq. km. or more. See Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, s. 63(3)(b). See also By-law 501 of the By-laws of the Board of Internal Economy of the House of Commons.
[333] 
See By-law 301 of the By-laws of the Board of Internal Economy of the House of Commons.
[334]
In 1913, secretarial assistance was first made available to Members for a few days at a time. Beginning in 1916, Members shared a pool of secretaries who were laid off during periods of recess and dissolution. In 1958, secretaries became dedicated to individual Members. In 1968, each Member was authorized to hire one full-time secretary. In 1974, a second full-time secretary was authorized for each Member. The same year, constituency offices were established. In 1978, each Member received a staff budget of $58,000, including at least $12,000 for constituency staff, to be used at the Member’s discretion for staffing requirements. For the 1999-2000 fiscal year, the base Office Budget was set at $190,000.
[335] 
Canada Post Corporation Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-10, s. 35.
[336] 
For additional information, see the Members’ Manual of Allowances and Services. On occasion, questions of privilege have been raised alleging the misuse of these privileges. See, for example, Debates, March 9, 1987, pp. 3958-66; April 13, 1989, p. 458. The Speaker has ruled that the breach of mailing and householder guidelines does not obstruct in any way a Member from carrying out the activities for which he or she was elected (Debates, March 18, 1987, pp. 4301-2; April 13, 1989, p. 458). The Chair has indicated, however, that a question of privilege could exist if the content of the communication sent out under the frank “worked against the right of Members to free expression and the carrying out of their obligations as Members” (Debates, October 16, 1986, pp. 405-6). See also Debates, April 23, 1990, pp. 10522-8, and May 17, 1990, pp. 11561-3, where a question of privilege was raised alleging the misuse of parliamentary stationery by a former Member. The Speaker ruled that the matter was arguably one of contempt rather than privilege.
[337] 
Travel provisions have changed dramatically since Confederation. In 1867, travel expenses were authorized at $0.10 per mile for a return trip, once per session, between Ottawa and the constituency and in 1903, free rail transportation, without limitation, was made available to Members, their spouses and dependent children. Access to free rail transportation ended as of July 1, 1996, with the repeal of the Canadian National Railway Act. Nonetheless, Members, their spouses and dependants are entitled to free VIA train transportation in Canada in accordance with VIA Rail Canada’s policy. For information on air transportation provisions, which were first authorized in 1948, see Commission to Review Allowances of Members of Parliament, Democratic Ideals and Financial Realities, 1994, pp. 57-9.
[338] 
See By-law 303 of the By-laws of the Board of Internal Economy of the House of Commons.
[339] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, s. 69. See also By-law 305, of the By-laws of the Board of Internal Economy of the House of Commons.
[340] 
See, for example, Journals, October 10, 1997, p. 105.
[341] 
Maingot, 2nd ed., pp. 22-3.
[342] 
See, for example, Debates, September 19, 1994, pp. 5811-4; September 20, 1994, p. 5900; February 3, 1997, pp. 7581-3; February 4, 1997, p. 7615.
[343] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, s. 28(1).
[344] 
See, for example, Debates, November 23, 1989, p. 6067; February 26, 1993, p. 16511. On December 9, 1998, Shaughnessy Cohen (Windsor–St. Clair) collapsed on the floor of the House of Commons and later died in hospital. The following day, tributes were paid to the Member (Debates, December 10, 1998, pp. 11123-6) and an entry announcing the vacancy was published in the Journals (December 10, 1998, p. 1431). Four Members have died on the parliamentary precinct: Bowman Law (in 1916 during the fire which destroyed the Centre Block; see Debates, February 7, 1916, pp. 590-1), John L. MacDougall (Debates, June 6, 1956, p. 4786), Owen Trainor (Debates, November 28, 1956, pp. 114-5), and Joseph Gour (Debates, March 24, 1959, p. 2209; March 25, 1959, pp. 2213-5).
[345] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, s. 28(2).
[346]
There have been 10 instances since Confederation where a Member has been elected to the House but has died before the opening of Parliament: Adelbert Edward Hanna (1918); Peter McGibbon (1921); Joseph Marcile (1925); Benoit Michaud (1949); John Ernest McMillan (1949); Gordon Graydon (1953); Azra Clair Casselman (1958); Colin Cameron (1968); Rt. Hon. John Diefenbaker (1979); and John Dahmer (1988).
[347] 
See, for example, Debates, October 9, 1979, p. 7; December 12, 1988, p. 11.
[348] 
See, for example, Debates, September 24, 1990, p. 13215.
[349] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, s. 25(1)(a). See, for example, Journals, September 24, 1990, pp. 1975-6.
[350] 
Parliament of Canada Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. P-1, s. 25(1)(b). See, for example, Journals, February 3, 1997, p. 1025; October 1, 1997, p. 55.


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