PARLINFO

House of Commons Section
Officers and Officials of Parliament

The term “Officers of Parliament” has been used loosely and inconsistently, and in different contexts to refer to different things. The term has not been legally defined, and, presently, it is used to describe several related types of positions:

  1. those members of the Senate and House who are appointed to certain offices in connection with Parliament;
  2. independent, watchdog officers who report to Parliament; and
  3. procedural officers and senior officials of the Senate, the House of Commons and the Library of Parliament.

Traditionally, at the federal level in Canada, the term “Officers of Parliament” refers to those independent, accountability agencies created to assist Parliament in holding ministers and the bureaucracy accountable and to protect various kinds of rights of individual Canadians, or to carry out certain functions independent of the executive. The holders of these offices are responsible to Parliament rather than to the federal government or an individual minister, and their appointments (and removal from office) usually involve Parliament in some capacity.

“Officers of Parliament” has further been used to refer to the offices of the Senate and the House of Commons that are occupied by politicians. These officers have a role to play in the operations of the chamber – the Speaker and other Chair occupants, the House Leaders, the party Whips, the caucus Chairs, and certain other offices.

The term is also sometimes used to describe the senior staff of the Senate, House of Commons, and the Library of Parliament. These are the officers appointed to serve Parliament, independent of the executive, and who facilitate the functioning of the legislative branch.

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Updated on: 2007.04.17

Revised on: 2007.04.17

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