as the Seat of Government
Parliament Buildings and Grounds
Location and Disposition
6.1 Parliament Hill
Management, Care and Control
The Centre Block
6.2 Floor Plan of the Centre
Library of Parliament
6.3 The House of Commons Chamber
The Bar of the House
in the Galleries
Sound Reinforcement, Simultaneous Interpretation, and
for Still Photography
Other Uses of the Chamber
Structures and Services
Overall Authority of the Speaker
Board of Internal Economy
and Decisions of the Board
Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs
Office of the Clerk of the House
There is no such thing as a bad seat in
the House of Commons.
Speaker Gilbert Parent
(Debates, September 30, 1998,
While the House of Commons conducts its business in accordance with
established procedures and practices, it does so in its own unique physical
setting and under administrative structures of its own making. These two
factors are an important backdrop to the procedural operations of the House.
This chapter provides information about Ottawa as the seat of government, the
Parliament Buildings, the House of Commons Chamber and the administrative
framework through which are provided an array of facilities and services
dedicated to the operations of the House and the needs of its Members.
In 1857, Queen Victoria chose Ottawa as the
seat of government for the Province of Canada. This followed years of intense
rivalry among the elected representatives of the pre‑Confederation
colonies of Upper and Lower Canada, who could not agree on a permanent site.
The itinerant Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada met in several
different cities, beginning with Kingston in 1841. In 1844, it moved to Montreal where it remained until 1849 when the legislative building was
burned by rioters.
Thereafter a system was adopted under which the Assembly met alternately in Quebec and Toronto before finally settling into its permanent home in Ottawa, where it met
for the first time in 1866. With the advent of Confederation the following
year, the capital of the Province of Canada became the national capital, in
compliance with the Constitution Act, 1867, which states that “the seat
of Government of Canada shall be Ottawa”.
Accordingly, the Parliament of Canada assembled in Ottawa on
November 6, 1867 for the First Session of the First Parliament.
 For a complete history of the selection of Ottawa as the capital
city, see Eggleston, W., The Queen’s Choice, Ottawa: Queen’s
Printer, 1961, pp. 99-110.
 During a time of political and economic crisis, protest coalesced
against the governor’s assent to the Rebellion Losses Bill (compensating losses
suffered in Lower Canada during the 1837 rebellion). There were days of
rioting, in the course of which an angry mob invaded the Parliament Building. The building burned on April 25, 1849, and very little was saved. See
Careless, J.M.S., The Union of the Canadas, Toronto: McClelland
and Stewart Limited, 1967, pp. 122‑6.
 R.S. 1985, Appendix II, No. 5, s. 16. The
choice of Ottawa as the national capital is reflected in the Quebec Resolutions
of 1864, adopted by delegates from the provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New
Brunswick, and the colonies of Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, and the
London Resolutions of 1866, adopted by delegates from the provinces of Canada,
Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The Quebec Resolutions, 1864, and the London
Resolutions, 1866, may be found in Ollivier, M., British North America
Acts and Selected Statutes, 1867‑1962, Ottawa: Queen’s Printer,
1962, p. 47, s. 52; p. 58, s. 51.
The Parliament Buildings are situated on a cliff,
originally a primeval forest of beech and hemlock, whose southern approach
consisted of dense cedar swamps and a beaver meadow. The site, which was formerly the location of military barracks, overlooks the
Ottawa River. It is bounded by Wellington Street to the south (the Wellington
Wall, which was built in 1872, stands on the north side of Wellington Street,
separating the lawns and buildings of Parliament Hill from the city street),
the Rideau Canal to the east, the Ottawa River to the north and Bank Street to
the west, and has the legal name of Parliament Hill.
(See Figure 6.1, Parliament Hill.) The original complex of buildings comprised
the Parliament Building—fronted by a tower and backed by the Library of
Parliament, a 16‑sided polygonal structure—as well as two extant
departmental buildings styled East Block and West Block. The Parliament Building, including the Victoria Tower, was destroyed by fire on February 3, 1916.
Only the Library survived intact, thanks to an employee who closed the great
iron doors connecting the Library to the rest of the building. For the next
four years, both Houses of Parliament met several city blocks south of
Parliament Hill in the Victoria Memorial Museum, now called the Canadian Museum of Nature.
6.1 Parliament Hill
Sittings resumed in 1920 in the new but unfinished Centre Block, which was built on the same site as the old building. The new building was completed in 1922. A new tower, called the Peace Tower in commemoration of Canada’s human and material
contributions to World War I, was completed in 1927.
While originally sufficient to house the
entire parliamentary and governmental apparatus, the Centre, East and West
Blocks ceased to provide adequate accommodation as the size, complexity and functions
of Parliament and government multiplied. Today, government departments are
housed in office buildings throughout the National Capital Region and elsewhere
in the country. The Parliamentary Precinct—those premises which both Houses of
Parliament “occupy from time to time for their corporate purposes”—has expanded to include several other buildings in the immediate
vicinity of Parliament Hill.
The House of Commons and Senate Chambers
are located in the Centre Block. Offices for Members of Parliament are for the
most part located in the Centre Block, East Block and West Block, as well as
the Confederation Building and the Justice Building. Committee rooms are found
in the Centre, East and West Blocks, as well as in other buildings located near
Parliament Hill. Offices for House staff and parliamentary services are found
in these and other locations in the capital.
The grounds around Parliament Hill have
undergone several stylistic transformations since Confederation but have always
included a wide central walk leading from the gateway at the south end of the
grounds to the main entrance at the base of the Peace Tower. At the southern
end of the walkway is a fountain; in its centre burns the Centennial Flame,
which was lit on New Year’s Eve 1966 to mark the first hundred years of
Confederation (1867‑1967). The fountain is a 12‑sided truncated pyramid, each side
holding a bronze shield bearing the coats of arms of a province or territory. Water flows continuously around the shields; the flame, fed by
natural gas, burns through the water and gives the impression of the flame
dancing over the water. Coins tossed into the fountain are retrieved to fund the
Centennial Flame Research Award Fund.
The grounds of Parliament Hill are the site
of 19 bronze statues, erected between 1885 and 2000.
Represented are seven former Prime Ministers (John A. Macdonald,
Alexander Mackenzie, Wilfrid Laurier, Robert Borden, William Lyon Mackenzie
King, John Diefenbaker and Lester B. Pearson), five Fathers of Confederation
(George‑Étienne Cartier, a joint memorial to Robert Baldwin and Louis‑Hippolyte Lafontaine,
George Brown and Thomas D’Arcy McGee) and two monarchs (Victoria and Elizabeth
II). There is
also a monument dedicated to the “Famous Five” and their victory in the 1929
There are several other notable features
found on the grounds of Parliament Hill. Behind Centre Block and facing the Ottawa River is the Summer Pavilion, a replica of a gazebo originally built for the Speaker
of the House of Commons, but demolished in 1956. In 1995, the Summer Pavilion was re-built as a tribute to Canadian police and peace officers
killed in the line of duty. Nearby, the Canadian Police
and Peace Officers Memorial Honour Roll, which lists
the names of each officer killed in the line of duty, is mounted along the
fence separating Parliament Hill from the cliffs along the Ottawa River. Next
to the Summer Pavilion is a monument displaying the Victoria Tower bell, one of the few artefacts which remains from the original building.
Given Parliament’s right to administer its
own affairs free from interference, including overseeing the areas used in the
performance of official parliamentary functions, the Speakers of the two Houses
have traditionally held authority and control over accommodation and services
within the Parliamentary Precinct. At Confederation, Parliament Hill (including the adjacent parcel of
land on which the Confederation Building stands) was transferred by the
imperial government to Canada as “ordnance property”. As
such, control of the grounds and construction, repair and maintenance of the
buildings fell and continues to fall under the general mandate of the
government department responsible for federal buildings and property. The National Capital Commission, a federal body whose mandate is
the improvement and beautification of the National Capital Region, is charged with the landscaping and upkeep of the grounds of
The grounds of Parliament Hill, including
the two lawns between the East and West Blocks, are treated as a public park,
and are frequently used for recreational purposes by visitors. Organized public
gatherings are also permitted on the grounds, although these require prior
permission from the Committee on the Use of Parliament Hill. The Committee,
which consists of the Sergeant-at-Arms and representatives of the Senate, the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the National Capital Commission, the
Privy Council Office, and the departments of Canadian Heritage and Public Works
and Government Services, ensures that the proposed activity does not obstruct
the work of Parliament or have a negative impact on the heritage character of
Built in a modern Gothic revival style, the
rectangular Centre Block is some 144 metres long by 75 metres deep, and six stories high. More than 25 different types of stone and marble were used in the
building’s construction; however, much of the exterior is Nepean sandstone,
quarried near Ottawa, and its interior walls are sheeted with Tyndall limestone
from Manitoba. Inside, the history and traditions of Canada are reflected in
many stone carvings which are the result of the ongoing, intermittent work of
over 60 sculptors and carvers since 1916.
The main entrance to the Centre Block is
located at the base of the Peace Tower, where a broad flight of steps leads
into a stately Gothic archway. The main doors open onto stairs leading up into
the octagonal Confederation Hall (also called the Rotunda) and the Hall of
Honour leading to the Library of Parliament (see Figure 6.2, Floor Plan of the
Centre Block). In the centre of the Confederation Hall is a massive stone
column dedicating the building to the Canadian soldiers who fought in World War
I. On the eastern end of the Centre Block is found the Senate Chamber and on
the western end, the House of Commons Chamber. Each House has a separate
entrance to the building for its members.
6.2 Floor Plan of the Centre Block
The Peace Tower with its four‑faced
clock is the focal point of the Parliament Buildings. It commemorates Canada’s contributions to World War I and houses on its third floor the Memorial Chamber, which
holds the seven Books of Remembrance naming those Canadians who have given
their lives in service to Canada. An enclosed observation deck below the clock
offers a view in all directions of the National Capital Region. The Tower,
which is 92.2 metres high, is surmounted by a mast from which the flag is
The Peace Tower also contains a carillon of
53 bells, inaugurated on July 1, 1927, in honour of the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation. Regular recitals are given by the Dominion Carillonneur. The bells chime every quarter‑hour, controlled by a mechanism
connected to the clock.
At the north end of the Centre Block’s Hall
of Honour, opposite the main entrance, are the doors to the Library of
Parliament building. Its style of architecture is High Victorian Gothic
Revival; its interior is circular in form and richly ornamented with carved
white pine panelling. The Library survived the fire of 1916, but in 1952 a fire broke out in the cupola of the Library, causing extensive smoke and water damage. From 2002 to 2006, the historic Library of Parliament building was
closed while craftspeople worked to conserve, rehabilitate, and upgrade the
building. Damages which the building had sustained over the years were repaired
and current building standards were met while preserving the Library’s existing
features and heritage character. During this period, the Library’s collections
were stored in various other buildings occupied by the Parliament of Canada,
and its services were not interrupted. The Library of Parliament Building
re-opened its doors on May 30, 2006. There are also
branch libraries in some of the other buildings used by Parliament.
The Library serves Parliament using state‑of‑the‑art
information technologies and has more than 17 linear kilometres of materials in
its collection (books, periodicals, government documents, CD-ROMS and videos).
Under the direction of the Parliamentary Librarian, the Library provides comprehensive information, research and
analysis services to parliamentarians, their staff, parliamentary committees,
parliamentary associations and delegations, and senior officials of both
Houses. It also provides information about Parliament to the general public.
 For a description of the original site, see Eggleston,
 Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1,
 The Victoria Tower was the most prominent feature of the original Parliament Building. It stood in approximately the same place as the Peace Tower stands today.
 The report of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the
origin of the fire was presented to the House later that year (Journals,
May 16, 1916, p. 388). The commissioners were “of the opinion that
there are many circumstances connected with this fire that lead to a strong
suspicion of incendiarism,” but as the inquiry was taken no further, the true
cause of the fire remains a mystery. The report noted that the fire started in
the Reading Room, which was furnished and fitted in “highly inflammable”
varnished white pine, and where many newspapers and files were kept. See also
Varkaris, J. and Finsten, L., Fire on Parliament Hill!, Erin, Ontario: The Boston Mills Press, 1988.
 Arrangements were quickly made and the House began sitting in the
Museum’s auditorium the day after the fire (Journals, February 4,
1916, p. 53). The Senate, which was not sitting at the time of the fire,
was accommodated in what had been the Geological Department (Debates of the
Senate, February 8, 1916, p. 50).
 When the session opened on February 26, 1920, the Senate
Chamber was not ready. The Senate met in the House of Commons, where the Speech
from the Throne was read, and the House met in the Railway Committee Room;
thereafter, until the Senate Chamber was ready, the Commons met in its Chamber
and the Senate in the Railway Committee Room (Debates of the Senate,
February 26, 1920, p. 1; February 27, 1920, p. 2). See also
Report of the Minister of Public Works for the Fiscal Year Ended
March 31, 1919, tabled on March 10, 1920 (Journals,
p. 39), pp. 5‑6.
 Maingot, J.P.J., Parliamentary Privilege in Canada, 2nd ed.,
Montreal: House of Commons and McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1997,
 The principal ones are the Confederation, Justice, Wellington,
Victoria and Chambers Buildings.
 The design and the construction of the fountain were the work of
the then Department of Public Works. The flame was originally conceived as a
project for the centennial year and the intention was to extinguish it at the
end of 1967. However, in response to popular demand, the government decided to
continue the flame in perpetuity (Debates, December 11, 1967,
p. 5260; December 12, 1967, pp. 5358‑9).
 Nunavut, which was created on April 1, 1999 as a result of the Nunavut
Act, S.C. 1993, c. 28, and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement
Act, S.C. 1993, c. 29, is not represented on the Centennial
 Centennial Flame Research Award Act, S.C. 1991,
c. 17. The Act originated as a private Member’s bill introduced by Patrick
Boyer (Etobicoke–Lakeshore); it established the Fund which is administered by
the parliamentary committee whose mandate includes matters relating to the
status of persons with disabilities. The Fund provides awards to disabled
persons to conduct research and prepare reports on the contributions of persons
with disabilities to the public life of Canada. Reports prepared by award
recipients are presented to the House by the Chair of the committee. See, for
example, Journals, June 14, 1993, p. 3204; June 10, 1999,
p. 2090; November 28, 2005, p. 1349; April 30, 2007,
 Originally planned for Parliament Hill, the statue of Louis St‑Laurent
(Prime Minister from 1948 to 1957) was erected in 1975 in front of the Supreme Court of Canada building and looks toward Parliament Hill, which is
nearby. This location was considered to be in keeping with his distinguished
legal career and service as Minister of Justice and Attorney General prior to
becoming Prime Minister.
 The monument to Elizabeth II is the only monument on Parliament
Hill not erected posthumously. It was unveiled in 1992, the year of the 40th
anniversary of her accession to the Throne.
 The “Famous Five” were five women (Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir
Edwards, Louise McKinney, Nellie McClung and Irene Parlby) who asked the
Supreme Court in 1927 to consider whether the word “person” in section 24 of
the British North America Act included female persons (Emily Murphy
had been denied an appointment to the Senate of Canada because she was not a
“qualified person”). The Court found that the Act did not include women. In
1929, they appealed the decision to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
in the United Kingdom, which was the highest court of appeal available at the
time. The Judicial Committee ruled that women were persons under the British
North America Act and thus eligible for appointment to the Senate.
 For further information on Parliament Hill and the precincts of the
Houses of Parliament, see Maingot, 2nd ed., pp. 163‑78.
 Constitution Act, 1867, R.S. 1985, Appendix II,
No. 5, s. 108, and The Third Schedule, item 9. See also Maingot,
2nd ed., pp. 168‑9.
 Public Works and Government Services Canada.
 National Capital Act, R.S. 1985, c. N‑4,
 Beauchesne, A., Canada’s Parliament Building: The
Senate and House of Commons, Ottawa, Ottawa: 1948, p. 24. Figures
converted from imperial to metric.
 The teams of sculptors who have worked on the stone carvings
in the Centre Block have been led by a chief sculptor, who is responsible for
overseeing the carving. Since the creation of the position in 1936, there have
been five chief sculptors: Cléophas Soucy (1936-50), William Oosterhoff
(1949-62), Eleanor Milne (1962-93), Maurice Joanisse (1993-2006) and Phil White
 On occasion, flags other than the Canadian flag have been flown
from the Peace Tower. When the Sovereign or the Governor General is present on
Parliament Hill for a state or public function, the Canadian flag is replaced
by Her Majesty’s Personal Canadian Flag or by the Governor General’s Flag, as
the case may be. For further information, see the Department of Canadian
Heritage Web site at www.pch.gc.ca. On January 19, 1943, the Dutch flag flew
atop the Peace Tower to commemorate the birth of Princess Margriet of the Netherlands. Princess Margriet was born in the Ottawa Civic Hospital, which had been
temporarily declared Dutch territory so that the Princess would have exclusive
Dutch citizenship, and thus remain in the line of succession to the Dutch
The flag atop the Peace Tower may be flown at half-mast as a symbol of mourning. This has occurred to mark the deaths
of sitting or former parliamentarians, sovereigns, and their relatives or
representatives, as well as to mark national or international tragedies. On
May 10, 2006, Speaker Milliken advised the House that the decision to
fly the flag at half-mast fell under the jurisdiction of the executive, not of
the Speaker of the House (Debates, pp. 1188-9).
 See Speaker Milliken’s remarks on the 80th anniversary of the
inauguration of the carillon (Debates, June 20, 2007,
 There have been five Dominion Carillonneurs since the inauguration
of the carillon: Percival Price (1927-39), Robert Donnell (1940-75),
Émilien Allard (1975-76), Gordon Slater (1977‑2008) and Andrea
McCrady (2008‑present). From time to time, guest carillonneurs have also
given recitals using the Peace Tower carillon.
 For further information on the history of the Library of
Parliament, see Dubé, A. and Graham, M., Chronology of a Building: The
Library of Parliament, Ottawa: House of Commons and Library of
Parliament, 1995 and Binks, K., Library of Parliament, Canada,
Ottawa: KCB Publications, 1979.
 The Parliamentary Librarian is responsible for the administration
and management of the Library. Pursuant to Standing Order 111.1, the Parliamentary
Librarian is appointed by Order in Council, following consideration of the
proposed appointment in committee and ratification by the Senate and the House.
See, for example, the appointment of William Robert Young (Journals,
November 17, 2005, p. 1283; November 22, 2005, p. 1309, Order
Paper and Notice Paper, p. III; Journals, November 23, 2005,
pp. 1314-6; Journals of the Senate, November 24, 2005, p. 1320).
There have been seven Parliamentary Librarians: Alpheus Todd (1870‑84),
Martin Griffin (1885‑1920), Martin Burrell (1920‑38), Francis
Hardy (1944‑59), Erik Spicer (1960‑94), Richard Paré (1994‑2005)
and William Young (2005‑present).
 In addition, the Library of Parliament is responsible for the
Parliamentary Tours Program, which provides guided tours of the Centre Block
for guests of parliamentarians, student groups, and the general public.
The South Corridor, where the portraits of
former Prime Ministers are displayed, links Confederation Hall to the Commons
Chamber. At the west end of the corridor is the spacious, high‑ceilinged
foyer of the House of Commons, which may also be accessed from the Members’
entrance at the western end of the Centre Block. On the four walls of the
foyer, just below the balcony which overlooks it from the floor above, is a
series of 10 bas‑relief sculpture panels depicting 25,000 years of
Canadian history from the arrival of the aboriginal peoples to that of the
United Empire Loyalists in the late eighteenth century. Opening off the
foyer are the doors to the south lobby which leads into the Chamber itself.
The doors, known as the Canada Doors, are made of white oak and trimmed with
hand‑wrought iron. The Canada Doors are usually open only for the Speaker’s
Parade, the Speech from the Throne, and Royal Assent ceremonies. Members use
the smaller doors on either side of the Canada Doors that lead into the south
lobby. A second set of doors in the south lobby lead into the Chamber while
doors on the west and east sides lead into the government and opposition
lobbies. The lobbies also open onto the Chamber.
Each day when the House meets to conduct
business, the Speaker’s Parade
leaves the Speaker’s office and passes through the Speaker’s Corridor, the Hall
of Honour, and the hall connecting the Hall of Honour to the Chamber. The
Parade enters the south lobby of the House through the Canada Doors and
proceeds into the Chamber.
The Chamber itself is rectangular in shape,
measuring approximately 21 metres in length and 16 metres in width; it is also sheeted with Tyndall limestone as well as white oak and, like its
counterpart at Westminster, it is decorated in green. (See Figure 6.3,
The House of Commons Chamber.) The 14.7‑metre high ceiling is made of
linen canvas, hand‑painted with the provincial and territorial coats of
The floral emblems of the 10 provinces
and 2 of the territories are depicted in 12 stained‑glass
windows on the east, west and north walls of the Chamber. On the east and
west walls, above the Members’ galleries and between the stained‑glass
windows, is the noted British North America Act (BNA) series of
sculptures. It consists of 12 separate bas‑relief sculptures in Indiana limestone. Each one depicts, in symbolic and story form, the federal roles and
responsibilities arising out of the BNA Act (now called the Constitution
6.3 The House of Commons Chamber
The Chamber is divided by a wide central
aisle and is furnished on either side with tiered rows of desks and chairs,
facing into the centre. The desks are equipped with a locked compartment in
which Members may store belongings, microphones, an electrical outlet for
laptop computers, and access to the Internet. Government Members sit to the
Speaker’s right, opposition Members to the left.
The Prime Minister and Cabinet sit in the front rows of the government side;
directly across the floor from the Prime Minister sits the Leader of the
Official Opposition who is flanked by Members of his or her party. The second‑ranked
opposition party and all other recognized parties in the House sit with their
leaders usually to the left of the Official Opposition, closer to the Bar of
the House. Traditionally, the front‑row seats to the left of the Speaker
are reserved for leading Members of the opposition parties, and opposition
parties are allocated front‑row seats in proportion to their numbers in
The distance across the floor of the House between the government and
opposition benches is 3.96 metres, said to be equivalent to two swords’
When there are more government Members than can be accommodated on the
Speaker’s right, some are seated on the left, usually in the seats closest to
the Speaker. Similarly, when there are more opposition Members than can be
accommodated on the Speaker’s left, the remaining opposition Members are seated
on the right, closer to the Bar of the House. Members of parties not recognized
in the House and independent Members are assigned seats at the discretion of the
All Members of Parliament have their own
assigned seats in the Chamber. Should the number of seats in the House be
increased following a decennial census, additional desks are installed. The
allocation of seats in the House is the responsibility of the Speaker and is
carried out in collaboration with the party Whips. Seat assignments
may change from time to time, but the Prime Minister and Leader of the
Opposition are always seated in the same places. It is customary for seats to
be assigned near the Chair for the use of the Deputy Speaker and other Chair
Occupants when they are not presiding over the House; no such allocation is
made for the Speaker.
The Speaker’s Chair stands on a dais
at the north end of the Chamber with the flag displayed to the right of the
In the years after Confederation, it was the custom for departing Speakers to
take their chairs with them and a new Chair to be made for the incumbent.
This custom ceased in 1916 when the Chair then in use was destroyed in the
fire. A new Chair arrived in 1921 as a gift from the British branch of what is
now the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. This Chair is an
exact replica of the original Speaker’s Chair at Westminster, made circa
1849, and then destroyed when the British House of Commons was bombed in 1941.
It is approximately four metres high, surmounted by a canopy of carved wood and
the Royal Coat of Arms. The oak used for the carving of the Royal Arms was
taken from the roof of Westminster Hall, which was built in 1397.
In recent years, the Chair has undergone
some minor renovations. Microphones and speakers have been installed and lights
placed overhead. The armrests now offer a writing surface and a small storage
space. A hydraulic lift was also installed to permit more comfortable seating
for the various occupants of the Chair.
At the foot of the Chair, visible only to its occupant, is a computer screen
which allows the Chair Occupant to see information generated by the computers
at the Table, the countdown timer used to monitor the length of speeches and
interventions when time limits apply, and a portion of the unofficial rotation
list for Members wishing to speak. The screen also displays a digital feed from
the television cameras in the Chamber, allowing the Speaker to see the image
At the foot of the dais below the Speaker’s
Chair is a bench where some of the House of Commons pages are stationed during
sittings of the House. The pages are first-year university students employed by
the House of Commons to carry messages and deliver documents to Members during
sittings of the House.
A door behind the Speaker’s Chair opens
onto a corridor, called the Speaker’s Corridor, leading directly to the
Speaker’s chambers. Hanging in this hallway are portraits of past Speakers of
A short distance in front of the dais and
the Speaker’s Chair is a long oak table where the Clerk of the House, chief
procedural advisor to the Speaker, sits with other Table Officers.
The Clerk sits at the north end of the Table, with Table Officers along its
right‑and left‑hand sides. The Clerk’s chair was made in 1873.
After the death in 1902 of the then Clerk, Sir John Bourinot, the chair was
presented to his widow. In 1940, it was donated back to the House by the
Each of the three seating positions at the
Table is equipped with a computer with wireless keyboard, mouse and microphone.
The computers are used to keep the records,
to manage the rotation lists of Members wishing to speak, to relay information
to the Chair and to send and receive electronic mail to and from other branches
of the House. The computers also have access to the digital feed from the
television cameras in the Chamber. The Mace rests at the south end of the Table.
Also on the Table is a collection of parliamentary reference texts for
consultation by Members and Table Officers, as well as a pair of bookends, a
calendar stand, inkstand and seal press.
The Mace is the ornamental staff, symbol of
the authority of the Speaker, which rests on the Table during sittings of the
House. In the Middle Ages, the mace was an officer’s weapon; it was made of
metal with a flanged or spiked head and was used to break through chain‑mail
or plate armour.
In the twelfth century, the Sergeants‑at‑Arms of the King’s
Bodyguard were equipped with maces. These maces, stamped with the Royal Arms
and carried by the Sergeants in the exercise of their powers of arrest without
warrant, became recognized symbols of the King’s authority. Maces were also
carried by civic authorities.
Royal Sergeants‑at‑Arms began
to be assigned to the Commons early in the fifteenth century. By the end of the
sixteenth century, the Sergeant’s mace had evolved from a weapon of war to an
ornately embellished emblem of office. The Sergeant‑at‑Arms’ power
to arrest without warrant enabled the Commons to arrest or commit persons who
offended them, without having to resort to the ordinary courts of law.
This penal jurisdiction is the basis of the concept of parliamentary privilege
and, since the exercise of this privilege depended on the powers vested in the
Royal Sergeant‑at‑Arms, the Mace—his emblem of office—was
identified with the growing privileges of the Commons and became recognized as
the symbol of the authority of the House and of the Speaker through the House.
At Confederation, the House of Commons’
Mace was that of the former Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada. It had
survived the burning of the Parliament building in Montreal in 1849,
as well as two fires in Quebec City in 1854,
but was lost in the great fire of February 3, 1916. When the House met in the Victoria Memorial Museum (as it was then known) in the immediate aftermath of the fire, the
Senate lent the House its Mace. For the following three weeks, the Mace
belonging to the Ontario Legislature was used until a temporary Mace, made of
wood, was fashioned. The Mace currently in use is a replica of the original.
Made of silver covered with heavy gilt, it is 1.47 metres long and weighs 7.9 kilograms. It was a gift from the Lord Mayor and the Sheriffs of
London and was presented in May 1917.
The wooden Mace was kept and since 1977 has been used in the Chamber on the
anniversary of the date of the fire.
The Mace is integral to the functioning of
the House; since the late seventeenth century it has been accepted that the
Mace must be present for the House to be properly constituted. The guardian of the
Mace is the Sergeant‑at‑Arms,
who carries it on the right shoulder in and out of the Chamber at the beginning
and end of each sitting of the House. At the opening of a sitting of the House, the Mace is laid across
the foot of the Table with its crown pointing to the government side of the
House. When the House sits as a Committee of the Whole, it is placed on
brackets below the foot of the Table.
During the election of a Speaker, the Mace rests on a cushion on the floor
beneath the Table. During a sitting, it is considered a breach of decorum for
Members to pass between the Speaker and the Mace. Members have also been found in contempt of the House for touching
the Mace during proceedings in the Chamber. When the House is adjourned, the Mace is kept in the Speaker’s
office. During longer adjournments and recesses, it may be displayed in or near
the Commons Chamber, although this has not occurred in recent years.
The Bar is a brass rod extending across the
floor of the Chamber inside its south entrance. It is a barrier past which
uninvited representatives of the Crown (as well as other non‑Members) are
The Sergeant‑at‑Arms, or an assistant, sits at a desk on the
opposition side of the Chamber and inside the Bar.
Individuals may be summoned to appear
before the Bar of the House in order to answer to the authority of the House.
If someone is judged to be in contempt of the House—that is, guilty of an
offence against the dignity or authority of Parliament—the House may summon the
person to appear and order that he or she be reprimanded by the Speaker in the
name of and with the full authority of the House. On a number of occasions in
the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, individuals were summoned to
appear before the Bar of the House. Since 1913, there have been only two
instances of the House requiring someone to appear at the Bar to be
On occasion, individuals may be summoned to
the Bar for reasons other than to be admonished by the Speaker. Witnesses to be
examined by the House may stand at the Bar and reply to questions posed by
well, the House may call individuals to the Bar in order to pay tribute to
Overlooking the floor of the House on both
sides and at both ends of the Chamber are galleries which can accommodate more
than 500 people. (See Figure 6.3, The House of Commons Chamber.) In the gallery
facing the Speaker’s Chair, called the Ladies’ Gallery, the first rows are
reserved for the diplomatic corps and for other distinguished guests; the
remaining rows are reserved for the visiting public. At the opposite end of the
Chamber, immediately above the Speaker’s Chair, is the Press Gallery.
Admittance is restricted to members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery
(one of the galleries in which note‑taking is permitted). Immediately
behind the Press Gallery is another public gallery. On the side of the Chamber facing the government benches are three
galleries: one for guests of government Members, another for Senators and
their guests, and another one for guests of the Prime Minister and the Speaker.
Only from the Speaker’s Gallery can distinguished visitors (such as heads of
state, heads of government and parliamentary delegations invited to Canada and celebrated Canadians) be recognized and introduced to the House, and only by the
Speaker. Members other than the Speaker may not refer to the presence of any
visitors in the galleries at any time.
On the other side of the Chamber, facing the opposition benches, a gallery is
reserved for departmental officials (the other gallery in which note‑taking
is permitted), another for guests of the Leader of the Opposition, and two
others for guests of Members of other opposition parties.
The doors to the galleries are opened at
the start of each sitting of the House, after prayers are read. For reasons of decorum and security, photography, reading and
sketching materials, and note‑taking (with the above exceptions) are not
permitted in the galleries. Coats, briefcases, notebooks, photographic
equipment and the like may not be carried into the galleries. During the taking
of recorded divisions, no one may enter or leave the galleries.
“Stranger” is a term of long-time use in
the procedural lexicon; it refers to anyone who is not a Member or an official
of the House of Commons (for example, Senators, diplomats, government
officials, journalists or members of the general public). It underlines the distinction
between Members and non‑Members and gives emphasis to the fact that
strangers or outsiders may be present in the galleries or within the House
precincts only under the authority of the House. Strangers are not
permitted on the floor of the House of Commons when the House is sitting.
The right of the House to conduct its
proceedings in private—that is, without strangers present—is centuries old.
Until 1845 in the British House, sessional orders excluded strangers from every
part of its premises (while in practice the presence of strangers came to be
tolerated in areas not appropriated to the exclusive use of Members).
In Canada, at Confederation, the House adopted a rule giving individual Members
the power to order the galleries to be cleared. In 1876, the rule
was substantially amended to allow Members only to move a motion “that
strangers be ordered to withdraw”; this non‑debatable and non‑amendable
motion was then left for the House to decide.
Since 1994, in addition to Members being allowed to move the motion, the
Speaker has had the authority to order the withdrawal of strangers without
putting the question to the House.
In practice such occurrences are not frequent and strangers are welcome so long
as there is space to accommodate them and proper decorum is observed.
The Sergeant‑at‑Arms, one of
the senior officials of the House, is responsible for maintaining order and
decorum in the galleries.
From time to time there have been instances of misconduct in the galleries and
the Sergeant‑at‑Arms and security staff have acted to remove
demonstrators or strangers behaving in a disruptive way. In cases of extreme disorder, the Speaker has directed that the
galleries be cleared.
In addition, should the House adopt the motion “That strangers be ordered to
withdraw”, it would be the duty of the Sergeant‑at‑Arms and
security staff to clear the galleries of strangers.
Adjacent to the government and opposition
sides of the Chamber is a long, narrow room known as a lobby. The one behind
the government benches is reserved for government Members; the other, on the
opposition side, is for Members of the opposition parties. Connected by doors
to the Chamber, the lobbies are furnished with tables and armchairs and
equipped with telephones, fax machines, photocopiers, computer terminals and
the like for Members’ use. Members attending the sitting of the House use the
lobbies to converse, discuss matters, make telephone calls, attend to
correspondence or other business and are able to return to the Chamber at a
moment’s notice. The party Whips assign staff to work from the lobbies and
pages are stationed in the lobbies to answer telephones and carry messages. The
lobbies are not open to the public. The House of Commons security staff
controls access to the lobbies in accordance with guidelines set by the Whips.
In 1951, a special committee of the House recommended the installation of a sound reinforcement system “similar to the one
in the House of Commons Chamber at Westminster”. For some years,
there had been complaints about the acoustics in the Chamber and the difficulty
that Members and those in the galleries had in following the proceedings. The
challenge in providing effective sound amplification lay in devising a system
for use in an assembly where Members speak from their places (rather than from
a rostrum) and only when recognized by the Speaker. The committee’s report was
adopted; the system was installed during a recess and used for the first time
in the session which opened on November 20, 1952. Each Member’s desk,
as well as the Speaker’s Chair, is equipped with a microphone. A microphone
switching console, staffed by console operators, is located at the front of the
gallery at the south end of the Chamber. Individual microphones are activated
when a Member is recognized by the Speaker. Only the Speaker has the power to
activate his or her own microphone (it may also be activated by the console
operator); when the Speaker’s microphone is activated, the Members’ microphones
will not function.
In 1958, the House agreed to the
installation in the Chamber of a system for simultaneous interpretation in both
Members were of the opinion that this would give further expression to the
Constitution, which provides for the equal status of the official languages and
for their use in parliamentary debate.
Enclosed booths for interpreters are
located in the corners of the Chamber opposite the Speaker’s Chair. Members’
desks are equipped with interpretation devices in order to receive simultaneous
interpretation of the proceedings into French or English. Visitors in the
galleries also have access to the sound reinforcement and interpretation
systems and may choose to listen to the proceedings with interpretation in the
official language of their choice, or without interpretation.
In 1977, the House
decided to televise its proceedings.
Following this decision, the Chamber became the site of extensive construction
to equip it for this purpose. During the summer adjournment, the Chamber was
refitted: the sound systems were upgraded, appropriate lighting installed,
cameras were added (operated manually and later replaced with remote‑controlled
cameras), and a control room was constructed above the Ladies’ Gallery situated
at the south end of the Chamber.
In 2003, the House approved the broadcast of its proceedings over the Internet
via the Parliament of Canada Web site. Since then, sittings of the House, televised committee meetings,
and the audio feed from non-televised committee meetings have been broadcast
over the Internet.
During the summer adjournment in 2003,
significant upgrades to the technological equipment in the Chamber were
installed. The broadcasting infrastructure was replaced, and a wireless
simultaneous interpretation system for special events was added. Further
improvements followed during the summer adjournment in 2004 when a new sound
system and a new simultaneous interpretation system for the galleries were
Before the advent of broadcasting of House
of Commons’ proceedings, photographs of the House during a sitting were taken
with the permission of the House.
In the late 1970s, once the House had dealt with the question of broadcasting,
the matter of still photography arose. There were no provisions for print media
to take pictures of the House at work, except by special arrangement, whereas
the electronic media now had access to images of every sitting of the House.
On a trial basis, and now standard practice,
a photographer was allowed behind the curtains on each side of the House during
Question Period. The photographers are employed by a news service agency which
supplies other news organizations under a pooling arrangement. When in the
Chamber, they operate in accordance with the principles governing the use of
television cameras, described in Chapter 24, “The Parliamentary Record”. Only
these photographers, and the official photographers employed by the House of
Commons, are authorized to take photographs of the Chamber while the House is
in session; even Members are forbidden from taking photographs.
At times, the House of Commons Chamber is
used for purposes other than a parliamentary sitting. Some are recurring events
such as addresses by distinguished visitors,
orientation sessions for new Members,
and educational and other programs.
At other times, the Chamber has been used for special events. Since these events
are not actually sittings of the House, the Mace is not on the Table.
 The “History of Canada” series was begun in 1962 by Eleanor Milne
and her team of stonecarvers, and completed in 1974. The Loyalists were
American colonists of diverse ethnic backgrounds who supported the British
cause during the American Revolution, and who left the United States at the end
of the War of Independence or soon thereafter.
 Lobbies for the House and Senate were part of the design for the
new Parliament Building constructed after the fire of 1916; the original
building had no lobbies.
 A parade consisting of the Speaker, the Sergeant-at-Arms with the
Mace, the Clerk of the House and other House officials. For further information
on the Speaker’s Parade, see Chapter 9, “Sittings of the House”.
 The predominance of the colour red in the Senate Chamber and the
British House of Lords can be explained by its history as a royal colour used
in the room where the Sovereign met his Court and nobles, as was the case in
Parliament’s earliest days. The association of the colour green with the
Commons is not so easily determined. The colour green has been linked to the
Commons’ meeting places at least since 1663 (date of the first authoritative
written reference to green in the House of Commons). See Davies, J.M., “Red and
Green”, The Table, Vol. XXXVII, 1968, pp. 33‑40 as well
as United Kingdom, House of Commons, “House of Commons Green”,
Factsheet G10, www.parliament.uk, 2006.
 The windows were a special project, undertaken in 1967 by Speaker
Lamoureux to mark Canada’s centennial. They were designed by Dominion Sculptor
Eleanor Milne. The project was completed in 1973. See Canada, House of Commons, The Stained Glass Windows of Canada’s House of Commons, Ottawa:
published under the authority of the Speaker of the House of Commons. See also Debates,
September 7, 1971, p. 7545.
 This 11‑year project, completed in 1985, was undertaken by
Dominion Sculptor Eleanor Milne and her team. On the east wall are
featured civil law, freedom of speech, the Senate, the Governor General,
Confederation, and the vote; on the west wall are bilingualism, education, the
House of Commons, taxation, criminal law and communication. See Milne, R.E., Captured
in Stone: Carving Canada’s Past, with K.B. Lambert and E. Moore, Manotick, Ontario: Penumbra Press, 2002.
 If a Member is unable to occupy a desk due to a disability or
physical restriction (such as a wheelchair), the desk may be altered or
removed. See Standing Order 1.1, which permits the Speaker to make such
arrangements as may be required to allow Members with disabilities to perform
 This is said to have originated with the formation of political
parties and party government. In the Parliaments of seventeenth century Britain, according to Redlich, the division into right and left was “quite unknown”.
For information on the origins of this and other traditions associated with
seating in the British House, see Redlich, J., The Procedure of the House of
Commons: A Study of its History and Present Form, Vol. II, translated
by A.E. Steinthal, New York: AMS Press, 1969 (reprint of 1908 ed.),
 This relates to times gone by in the British House. Members in the
British House no longer wear swords, but red lines marked on the carpet two
swords’ length apart still serve as a reminder to seek resolutions by peaceful
 In response to a point of order, Speaker Parent explained the
process followed in assigning seats to parties and stated: “There is no such
thing as a bad seat in the House of Commons” (Debates,
September 30, 1998, pp. 8584‑5). For further information on the
assignment of seats, see Chapter 4, “The House of Commons and Its
 Seating plans for the House indicate that at one time the Speaker,
a government Member, was assigned a desk on the government side near the Chair.
It appears the practice was discontinued in the Thirty‑First Parliament
(1979) when, following a change of government, Speaker Jerome was elected to a
second term, becoming the first opposition Member to be nominated by the
governing party to preside over the House.
 This design element may be related to the fact that the Chair
is a replica of the original Speaker’s Chair at Westminster, which is also
raised above floor level. In St. Stephen’s Chapel, the home of the British
Commons from 1547 to 1834, the Speaker’s Chair was located atop the steps
leading to the altar.
 In 1973, the House adopted a motion authorizing the Speaker to
“display the Canadian Flag in the House of Commons in such location as he
chooses” (Journals, February 14, 1973, p. 119). With the
exception of the tenure of Speaker Parent (1994-2001) when the flag was
displayed on both sides of the Chair, Speakers have chosen to display one flag
to the right of the Chair.
 Debates, May 20, 1921, p. 3691.
 Journals, June 8, 1920, p. 324; Debates,
May 20, 1921, pp. 3689‑96.
 The lift was installed in 1981 during the tenure of Speaker Sauvé
 At one point, there was both a television monitor and a computer
screen at the foot of the Chair. At the beginning of the Thirty-Seventh
Parliament (2001‑04), a single computer screen was installed combining
the functions of the previous two screens.
 See Speaker Jerome’s comments about the Page Program, Debates,
March 22, 1978, pp. 4026‑7; October 10, 1978,
 The portraits are normally commissioned before a Speaker leaves
office, but hung only after a Speaker has left office. An unveiling ceremony is
held when a new portrait is added to the collection.
 The Table, with its elaborately carved base, was designed by John
A. Pearson, who, along with Jean‑Omer Marchand, also designed the
reconstructed Centre Block.
 In keeping with a long-established practice, Table Officers produce
a scroll for every sitting day. This is a handwritten record of proceedings in
the House and is used to produce the Journals.
 The calendar stand, inkstand and seal press are the handiwork of
ironmaster Paul Beau. They were placed on the Table in 1926 to replace items
lost in the fire of 1916 (Debates, May 26, 1926, p. 3731). For
a description of their design, see Journals, May 28, 1926,
pp. 364‑5. Mr. Beau was also responsible for many of the ironwork
items found elsewhere in the Centre Block. See
Pepall, R., Paul Beau, Montreal: Musée des beaux‑arts de
 The Mace developed from the club (prehistoric weapon) and the staff
(ancient symbol of age, wisdom and authority). See Grant‑Dalton, E., “The
Mace”, The Table, Vol. XXV, 1956, pp. 15‑20; Thorne, P.,
“Maces: Their Use and Significance”, The Parliamentarian,
Vol. 44, January 1963, pp. 25‑30. It is said that the mace
rather than the sword was carried into battle by the medieval warrior bishops,
in conformity with canonical rule forbidding priests to shed blood (Beauchesne,
Canada’s Parliament Building: The Senate and House of Commons, Ottawa,
 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, pp. 156‑7.
 At this time, the British Commons was at the start of its centuries‑long
struggle to assert and win the privileges essential to establishing its
distinct role in Parliament. In the Ferrers case of 1543, the House of Commons
successfully challenged the City of London authorities, securing the release of
an arrested Member (Ferrers) “by their Serjeant without writ, only by shew of
his mace, which was his warrant”. See the account in Hatsell, J., Precedents
of Proceedings in the House of Commons, Vol. I, South Hackensack, New Jersey: Rothman Reprints Inc., 1971 (reprint of 4th ed., 1818), pp. 53‑9.
See also Chapter 3, “Privileges and Immunities”.
 The legislative assemblies of the other provinces joining
Confederation did not use maces (Bourinot, J.G., Parliamentary Procedure and
Practice in the Dominion of Canada, 2nd ed., rev. and enlarged,
Montreal: Dawson Brothers, Publishers, 1892, pp. 277‑8,
note 5). Nova Scotia and New Brunswick obtained maces in 1930 and 1937
respectively. In Upper and Lower Canada (now Ontario and Quebec), maces were
used in the houses of assembly from the time of their first meetings in 1792.
 Bourinot, 2nd ed., pp. 277‑8, note 5.
 McDonough, J., “The History of the Maces of the British and
Canadian Parliaments”, Canadian Regional Review: Commonwealth Parliamentary
Association, Vol. II, No. 2, June 1979, p. 29.
 Journals, May 16, 1917, p. 216. For a description
of the design of the Mace, see Debates, May 16, 1917, pp. 1468‑9.
See also Wilding, N. and Laundy, P., An Encyclopaedia of Parliament, 4th ed.,
London: Cassell & Company Ltd., 1972, pp. 455‑6 for information
on maces in other Commonwealth Parliaments.
 See, for example, Debates, February 3, 2005,
p. 3011. The tradition began in 1961 during the tenure of Speaker Michener
(1957-62) (Debates, February 3, 1961, p. 1701), and was
revived by Speaker Jerome in 1977 (Debates, February 3, 1977,
 United Kingdom, House of Commons, “The Mace in the House of
Commons”, House of Commons Library Document No. 3, London: Her
Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1957, p. 7. See also Hatsell,
Vol. II, p. 141.
 Standing Order 157(1).
 The Mace is left on the Table whenever a sitting is suspended for a
short period of time; however, during an emergency such as a fire alarm, the
Sergeant-at-Arms removes it from the Chamber.
 This long‑standing custom may have originated in the
Elizabethan period, when the large committees of the time began to meet in the
Chamber as an alternative to less convenient locations outside the precinct.
The position of the Mace—on the Table or below it—would have provided a clear
indication as to whether Members were sitting as a House or as a committee
(“The Mace in the House of Commons”, pp. 9‑10).
 For further information on this custom, see Chapter 13, “Rules of
Order and Decorum”.
 Debates, October 30, 1991, pp. 4269‑70;
October 31, 1991, pp. 4271‑85, 4309‑10;
April 22, 2002, pp. 10654‑70; April 23, 2002,
pp. 10747‑8; April 24, 2002, p. 10770. For further
information, see the section below, “The Bar of the House”.
 In 1642, in a conflict over the respective rights and authority of
the monarch and the British Parliament, Charles I issued a warrant for the
arrest of five Members of the British House of Commons. The King himself went
to the Commons Chamber, crossed the Bar—the first and last monarch to do so—and
took the Speaker’s Chair, demanding the presence of the five Members. The
King’s intentions were foiled by Speaker Lenthall whose famous words
(“May it please Your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see, nor tongue to
speak in this place, but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I
am here, and I humbly beg Your Majesty’s pardon that I cannot give any other
answer than this to what Your Majesty is pleased to demand of me”) established
the precedence of the privileges of the Commons over the authority of the Crown
(Wilding and Laundy, 4th ed., pp. 708‑9).
When the House sits as a Committee of the
Whole, typically two departmental officials are permitted onto the floor of the
House in order to assist the Minister. Members requiring assistance in the
Chamber due to a disability may also have an aide present on the floor of the
House. See Standing Order 1.1.
 On October 30, 1991, angry at having missed a vote, Ian
Waddell (Port Moody–Coquitlam) attempted to take hold of the Mace as it was
borne out of the Chamber at the end of the sitting. The Member’s actions were
judged to be an attempt to obstruct the House, as well as a challenge to the
Chair’s authority to adjourn the sitting. A prima facie breach of
privilege was found and a motion was adopted calling the Member to the Bar to
be admonished by the Speaker (Debates, October 30, 1991,
pp. 4269‑70; October 31, 1991, pp. 4271‑85, 4309‑10).
On April 17, 2002, angry with the outcome of a vote on his private
Member’s bill, Keith Martin (Esquimalt–Juan de Fuca) took hold of the
Mace. This action was considered to be in contempt of the House and a prima
facie breach of privilege was found (Debates,
April 22, 2002, pp. 10654-70). On April 23, 2002, the
House adopted a motion calling not only for the Member to appear at the Bar of
the House, but also to apologize for his actions (Journals,
pp. 1337-8). The next day, Mr. Martin appeared at the Bar and apologized
to the House (Journals, April 24, 2002, p. 1341, Debates,
 For further information, see Chapter 3, “Privileges and
 On March 1, 2002, a motion was adopted by unanimous consent calling
for a former Member of Parliament, Herb Gray, to appear at the Bar to hear
remarks by one representative of each party, and to respond to them (Journals,
p. 1149). On March 13, 2002, Mr. Gray appeared at the Bar and Members paid
tribute to his long service as a Member of Parliament (Journals, p. 1171,
Debates, pp. 9588-93).
 At one time the Ladies’ Gallery was reserved for women (who tended
to be the wives and daughters of Members), as is the Ladies’ Gallery in the
British House. See Wilding and Laundy, 4th ed., p. 424; Redlich,
Vol. II, pp. 22, 35.
 The Parliamentary Press Gallery is a non‑profit corporation
whose membership comprises journalists assigned by media organizations to cover
 All persons going into the galleries must first go through a
security screening station.
 For further information on the recognition of visitors in the
galleries, see Chapter 7, “The Speaker and Other Presiding Officers of the
 On Wednesdays, the doors are not opened until after the prayers are
read and the national anthem has been sung.
 In March 1997, the House was made aware that an Aboriginal
visitor carrying an eagle feather had been refused admission to the public
galleries. The House took note of the sacred character of the eagle
feather for Aboriginal peoples, and the Speaker stated that it is permissible
for an Aboriginal person to bring an eagle feather into the House (Debates,
March 12, 1997, pp. 8946, 8954‑5).
 For further information on the authority of the House over its
precincts, see Chapter 3, “Privileges and Immunities”. When it came to the
attention of the House in June 1998 that Ernst Zündel (notorious for
having published his claims that the Holocaust never occurred) had been granted
use of the Centre Block press conference facility managed by the Parliamentary
Press Gallery (Debates, June 4, 1998, pp. 7608‑9, 7616),
the House agreed that, for the remainder of the session, Mr. Zündel would be
denied admission to the House of Commons precinct (Journals,
June 4, 1998, p. 937). In October 2007, the House adopted a
similar motion denying admittance to the precincts of the House for the
remainder of the parliamentary session to two representatives of a white
supremacy organization who had planned to hold a press conference in the Centre
Block (Journals, October 17, 2007, p. 12).
 There have been rare exceptions. In 1944, the House twice agreed to
permit the Minister of National Defence, who was newly appointed and not an
elected Member, to address the House during a sitting (Journals,
November 23, 1944, p. 926; November 24, 1944, p. 928). In
addition, the House met in a secret session at which the Minister was present
and participated (Journals, November 28, 1944, p. 931, Debates,
p. 6634). In 2007, when the House met in a Committee of the Whole to
consider emergency legislation, 10 witnesses were seated at a table on the
floor of the Chamber. Some of the witnesses made statements and answered questions
(Journals, December 11, 2007, pp. 295‑6, Debates,
pp. 2049‑78). In 2008, pursuant to two Special Orders adopted by the
House, the House met in a Committee of the Whole and guests representing the
First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples were permitted on the floor of the
Chamber to hear the Prime Minister’s statement of apology to former students of
Indian Residential Schools and the responses of the leaders of the opposition
parties. Five of the representatives were also permitted to make statements in response
to the apology. See Journals, June 10, 2008, p. 952;
June 11, 2008, pp. 963‑4, Debates, pp. 6849‑57.
Moreover, since 2005, a Member with a disability has required the presence of
an aide in the Chamber. See Standing Order 1.1.
On several occasions, the House has sat as a
Committee of the Whole in order to receive Canadian Olympic and Paralympic
athletes onto the floor of the Chamber to be recognized for their achievements.
See Journals, October 1, 1996, p. 699, Debates,
pp. 4944‑6; Journals, April 22, 1998, p. 691, Debates,
pp. 5959‑60; Journals, April 15, 2002, p. 1288, Debates,
p. 10394; Journals, November 1, 2004, p. 174, Debates, pp.
 For historical background, see May, T.E., A Treatise Upon the
Law, Privileges, Proceedings and Usage of Parliament, South Hackensack, New Jersey: Rothman Reprints Inc., 1971 (reprint of 1st ed., 1844), pp. 163‑4;
A Treatise on the Law, Privileges, Proceedings, and Usage of Parliament,
5th ed., rev. and enlarged, London: Butterworths, 1863, pp. 238‑40;
Redlich, Vol. II, pp. 34‑5.
 Rules and Forms of Proceedings of the House of Commons of Canada, 1868, Rule 6. See Debates, March 27, 1871, col. 655, for an example
of its use.
 Debates, March 29, 1876, p. 905. No such
motion has ever been adopted, although attempts have been made. See, for
example, Journals, September 7, 1950, p. 38; Debates,
April 4, 1990, pp. 10186‑7. In the 1990 example, Speaker
Fraser ruled that a Member could not propose the motion on a point of order.
 Standing Order 14 (Journals, June 10, 1994,
 Standing Orders 157(2) and 158.
 For example, on May 2, 2001, two demonstrators unfurled a
banner in the galleries and tossed stuffed animals onto the floor of the House.
Security staff took the initiative to remove the demonstrators before an
objection was raised in the House. The RCMP later charged the demonstrators
with causing a disturbance. On March 13, 2008 during the taking of a
vote on a motion to extend Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan,
26 visitors in one of the galleries stood up and began chanting in protest
to the motion. Security staff advised the demonstrators to leave the gallery
and they did so without incident.
 See, for example, Debates, May 11, 1970, p. 6796;
November 28, 1989, pp. 6342‑3. On October 18, 1990, a question of privilege was raised accusing a Member of complicity in a demonstration in the
galleries on the previous day, when some 20 individuals identified as students
had shouted and pelted Members with macaroni and messages of protest before
being escorted from the galleries by security staff (Debates,
pp. 14359‑68). The Speaker ruled out the allegation of complicity,
but found a prima facie breach of privilege in the demonstration. The
matter was referred to committee, which recommended that participants in such
demonstrations be charged or otherwise punished for their actions (Journals,
November 6, 1990, p. 2228, Debates, pp. 15177‑81;
Journals, March 6, 1991, pp. 2666‑7). For the text of
the report, see Standing Committee on Privileges and Elections, Minutes of
Proceedings and Evidence, March 6, 1991, Issue No. 39,
pp. 3‑8. The report was not taken up by the House.
 The development of the system in the British House was watched with
interest. See reports tabled by the Speaker in Journals,
December 5, 1947, pp. 7, 30‑2; March 15, 1951,
pp. 177‑9. The special committee’s report was presented to the House
and adopted on June 19, 1951 (Journals, pp. 517‑8).
 Journals, February 29, 1952, p. 9 (tabling of an
Order in Council authorizing the Minister of Public Works to contract for the
supply, installation and operation of a sound system); Debates,
June 25, 1952, p. 3732 (questioning of the Minister in Committee of
Supply); November 21, 1952, p. 11; November 26, 1952,
p. 123 (Members’ comments on the new system).
 Journals, August 11, 1958, p. 402.
 See Debates, August 11, 1958, pp. 3331‑40.
See also Debates, November 25, 1957, pp. 1456‑99.
 Journals, January 25, 1977, p. 287.
 See the Speaker’s statement when the House began broadcasting its
proceedings (Debates, October 17, 1977, pp. 8201‑2).
 See the Fourth Report of the Special Committee on the Modernization
and Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons, presented to the
House on June 12, 2003 (Journals, p. 915) and concurred in on
September 18, 2003 (Journals, p. 995), par. 23 to 30.
 The subject of broadcasting as an
“electronic Hansard” is addressed in Chapter 24, “The Parliamentary Record”.
 In an effort to meet possible future needs, an electronic voting
infrastructure was also installed, although such technology has not yet been required
by the House. For further information on the upgrades which took place during
the summer adjournments of 2003 and 2004, see the Fourth Report of the Special
Committee on the Modernization and Improvement of the Procedures of the House
of Commons, presented to the House on June 12, 2003 (Journals, p. 915)
and concurred in on September 18, 2003 (Journals, p. 995), par. 16
 See, for example, the Special Order adopted on May 11, 1961 (Journals,
p. 535). On another occasion, when a Member objected, the Speaker sought
the consent of the House for photographs to be taken during a sitting (Debates,
November 27, 1964, p. 10597; December 17, 1964,
p. 11263). In January 1967, the Speaker wrote to all Members,
informing them of arrangements made in consultation with the House Leaders for
photographs to be taken of the House in session.
 Debates, October 24, 1979, p. 557.
 Debates, January 25, 1983, p. 22194.
 Members have been warned by the Chair not to take photographs while
the House is in session (Debates, December 7, 1999, pp. 2419-20;
February 29, 2000, p. 4151; April 22, 2004, p. 2298; April 26,
2004, p. 2394; April 27, 2004, p. 2469). See also Debates,
October 31, 2007, p. 624.
 From time to time, the House of Commons Chamber is the site for an
address by a distinguished visitor to assembled Senators and Members. In order
for such a meeting to take place, the House first adopts a motion to that
effect. See, for example, Journals, October 8, 2004, p. 75;
May 5, 2006, pp. 134-5. When a joint address takes place, an established
protocol is followed. It does not constitute a sitting of the House and the
House is not in session. For further information on joint addresses to members
of both Houses, see Chapter 9, “Sittings of the House”.
 Orientation sessions are provided to Members following a general
election, and before the opening of Parliament. They have been held in the
Chamber following each general election since 1993, with the exception of the
orientation session in 2004, which was held in a reception room in the West
Block due to renovations that were taking place in the Chamber.
 For example: The Teachers’ Institute on Canadian Parliamentary
Democracy, a professional development seminar held annually since 1996; the
annual meetings of the Forum for Young Canadians, a program operated by the non‑profit
Foundation for the Study of Processes of Government in Canada for secondary
school aged students to learn about the workings of government and the
responsibilities of citizenship; Model Parliaments for various Canadian
universities; and the annual swearing‑in ceremony for the pages.
 In 1921, Senators and Members assembled in the House of Commons
Chamber for a ceremony to receive the Speaker’s Chair, a gift to replace the
Chair lost in the fire of 1916. The gathering was not a sitting of the House
and the Mace was not laid on the Table. When the House sat later the same day,
Special Orders were adopted to prefix the remarks made at the ceremony to that
day’s Debates (Journals, May 20, 1921, pp. 305‑6).
Sessions were held in the House of Commons
Chamber when the Parliament of Canada hosted the XIth and XVIIIth General Assemblies
of the Association internationale des parlementaires de langue française in
1980 and 1991 respectively, the XXVth General Assembly of the Assemblée
parlementaire de la Francophonie in
1999, and the inaugural meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the
Americas in 2001.
In 1996, Senators and Members past and
present gathered in the Chamber and galleries to witness a ceremony unveiling
the first of a series of plaques commemorating the service of individual
parliamentarians since Confederation. The event was not a sitting of the House.
(The ceremony was televised but the official documents contain no written
record; see references in Debates, May 29, 1996, pp. 3124,
The House of Commons delegates much of its
work to committees which are composed of Members (and in the case of joint
committees, Members and Senators).
Aside from Committees of the Whole House which meet in the Chamber,
committees meet in rooms outside the Chamber, often while the House is sitting.
Committee rooms are located principally in the Centre, East and West Blocks.
They are outfitted with sound amplification systems as well as the necessary
equipment to record the proceedings and to provide simultaneous interpretation
in both official languages. Two rooms are set up for television broadcasting,
with an adjoining control room and cameras operated by remote control. When required, temporary broadcasting equipment may be installed in
other committee rooms. Although certain rooms are designated and equipped as
committee rooms, they are all multifunctional and are used for other purposes.
Committees may meet anywhere in the Parliamentary Precinct provided the
requirements for interpretation and recording are met.
Typically a committee room is set up with
several tables placed in a rectangular formation. The Chair sits at the centre
of one end with the committee clerk and other committee advisors. The Members
take seats on either side; as in the House, the government Members normally sit
to the Chair’s right and the opposition Members to the left. Witnesses are
seated at the end opposite the Chair. Tables are available for representatives
of the press, usually behind the witnesses’ chairs, together with additional
seating for individuals viewing the proceedings.
While a committee may tend to hold its
meetings in a particular room, no such formal room assignments are made. In the
years immediately following Confederation, committees were fewer and larger and
much business was conducted in Committees of the Whole. Certain rooms were set
aside for committee meetings. For example, the room known informally as the
Railway Committee Room came to be so called because (although it was used by
other committees) it was the home of the standing committee dealing with
Committees book rooms as needed; priority of use may be established from time
to time by the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.
 For further information, see Chapter 20, “Committees”.
 For further information, see Chapter 19, “Committees of the
 For further information on broadcasting arrangements for committee
proceedings, see Chapter 24, “The Parliamentary Record”.
 For further information on the recording of committee proceedings,
see Chapter 20, “Committees”. On May 29, 2003, a point of order was raised regarding a committee meeting held in camera in the
Parliamentary Restaurant, which some Members contended did not meet the
requirements for simultaneous interpretation and recording. On June 3, 2003,
Deputy Speaker Kilger stated that since Members present at the meeting had not
objected to the ad hoc arrangements made for interpretation, and since
an in camera meeting did not require recording, the committee meeting had
been properly conducted (Debates, May 29, 2003, pp. 6643-6; June 3, 2003,
 The Standing Committee on Railways, Canals and Telegraph Lines
existed from 1867 to 1965, when its name was changed. The Railway Committee
Room opens off the Hall of Honour. It is one of the largest committee rooms,
and it has been equipped to broadcast committee proceedings.
 Standing Order 115(4). The priority system is based on a report of
the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs adopted by the House on
September 19, 1994. See the Twenty‑Eighth Report of the Standing
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, Minutes of Proceedings and
Evidence, June 10, 1994, Issue No. 16, pp. 9-10; Journals,
September 19, 1994, p. 682. See also the Nineteenth Report of the
Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (presented to the House and
concurred in on May 16, 2001 (Journals, pp. 419, 421)), which
recommended that, on an experimental basis, disputes between committees
regarding the allocation of committee rooms with broadcasting capabilities be
resolved by the House Leaders, or by the Standing Committee on Procedure and
House Affairs if the House Leaders could not come to an agreement. These
recommendations have been continually renewed since their adoption. See, for
example, the Second Report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House
Affairs, presented to the House and concurred in on April 27, 2006 (Journals,
p. 99). See also Chapter 20, “Committees”.
Members are accommodated mostly in suites
of offices located in the Centre Block, East Block, West Block, Confederation
Building and Justice Building. Ministers have offices on Parliament Hill as
well as in their departments. Office space is assigned to Members in
consultation with their party Whips. Members of parties not officially recognized
in the House and Members with no party affiliation (usually referred to as
independent Members) are allocated offices by the Speaker.
At Confederation, the newly‑built
Centre Block, or “Parliament Building” as it was then known, housed the entire
Parliament of Canada. The East and West Blocks, or “departmental buildings”,
were occupied by government departments and included offices for Cabinet
Ministers. The Speaker was the only Member to have an office in the Centre
Block. Members were provided with desks in the Chamber, lockers nearby, and
facilities for dressing, reading and smoking; the nature of the Members’ work
and the length of sessions were such that this was considered adequate to their
The Centre Block was designed for the
Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada, which was composed of 130
members; at Confederation in 1867, it was required to house 181 Members of the
House of Commons. By the 1880s, the basements and attics were fully utilized
and parliamentarians demanded improvements in their accommodations. By 1916,
the year in which fire destroyed the building, some Members were allocated
private offices (i.e., the Speaker, Cabinet Ministers, leading Opposition
Members); others shared rooms. Conditions for Members improved in the new
Centre Block, though not to the extent of offering private offices for all.
Over the years, the membership of the House increased and so did Members’
requirements for space and staff, in line with the evolving role and worklife
of Parliament and its elected representatives. Gradually, additional space
became available as administrative services were moved to other locations, and
as other buildings were converted for House of Commons use.
 In 1991, Louis Plamondon (Richelieu), a Member of a non‑recognized
party, raised a question of privilege about the reassignment of his office by
the Speaker without his authorization. Speaker Fraser ruled that the Member’s
complaint was an administrative rather than procedural matter (Debates,
April 8, 1991, pp. 19126‑7; April 9, 1991, pp. 19232‑3;
April 11, 1991, p. 19340). Prior to the opening of the Thirty‑Sixth
Parliament in 1997, John Nunziata (York South–Weston), a former Member of
a recognized party who had been re‑elected as an independent Member, was
reassigned office space by the Speaker against his will.
 At that time, sessions of Parliament were on average well under six
months in length. See Appendix 13, “Parliaments Since 1867 and Number of
 The original building had residences for the Speaker and Sergeant‑at‑Arms
as well as modest living quarters for housekeepers, servants and messengers in
the basement. The new building was two storeys higher and additional space was
made available by eliminating the residences, though the Speaker retained a
suite of rooms in order to offer the traditional hospitality. See
Livermore, J.D., “A History of Parliamentary Accommodation in Canada, 1841‑1974”, published as Appendix III of the Report of the Advisory
Commission on Parliamentary Accommodation, November 1976, tabled on
December 17, 1976 (Journals, p. 254).
 The West Block was renovated and reopened for Members in 1963, and
the Confederation Building in 1973. Since 1980, the East Block (which had
always been used by the Prime Minister) has been used by other Members. Since
2001, office space has also been available to Members in the Justice Building.
The House of Commons is one of three
constituent elements of the Parliament of Canada.
The other two elements are the Senate and the Sovereign, represented in Canada by the Governor General. The House of Commons is not a department of the Government
of Canada, although its administrative structure may be described as generally
comparable to that of a government department. One of the privileges of the
House is its right to independent regulation of its own internal affairs. The House may voluntarily adopt the administrative policies of the
government as its own, but it cannot be compelled to do so, and it is also free
to develop new policies and practices.
The House Administration exists to support
the activities of Members individually and collectively in their various roles
as legislators in the House and in committees, as representatives of their
constituents, and as members of their respective party caucuses. As well as
serving Members elected for the duration of a Parliament, the Administration
also serves the House as an institution.
In 1964, the administrative structure of
the House of Commons was the subject of an important review which noted
significant changes in the nature, volume and complexity of House services and
recommended an administrative reorganization.
The origins of the modern administrative structure of the House may be traced
to a major comprehensive audit carried out by the Auditor General in 1979 and 1980. In 1978, wishing to support a program of expenditure restraint undertaken by the government,
Speaker Jerome asked the Standing Committee on Management and Members’ Services
to suggest possible economy measures for the House.
Out of this came a recommendation from the Committee for a complete and
independent review of the administration of the House.
At the Speaker’s request, the Auditor General
reviewed the administration of the House of Commons, submitting an interim
report in October 1979 and a final report early in 1981.
The Auditor General noted that services to Members were of high quality;
however, fundamental weaknesses and a number of significant deficiencies were
identified. These findings led to a major realignment of the administrative
structure of the House, which has continued to evolve to meet changing
circumstances and demands. Another comprehensive audit undertaken by the Auditor
General in 1990‑91 found a greatly improved quality of general and
The administrative structure of the House
is not set out in any single text or piece of legislation. The organization
required to support the activities of the House has evolved and developed over
the years in response to the needs of an increasingly complex system of
government. Provisions for various aspects of the administration are found in
legislation, the Standing Orders, by‑laws made by the Board of Internal Economy, internal
policy manuals and in the unwritten practices developed over time.
Elected by the Members of the House, the
Speaker holds a position of authority and represents the Commons in all its
powers, proceedings and dignity. The Speaker is the guardian of the rights and privileges of the
House, and spokesperson for the House in its relations with the Senate, the
Sovereign and other authorities outside Parliament. When in the Chair, he or
she is responsible for regulating debate and preserving order in accordance
with the rules of the House.
In addition to the more visible roles as
representative of the House and presiding officer in the Chamber, the Speaker
is at the head of the administration of the House of Commons and holds
extensive responsibilities in that regard. The Speaker is responsible for the
overall direction and management of the House of Commons administration, much as a Cabinet Minister is responsible for a department.
The House has a number of unique
characteristics that have a direct impact on how it functions and is managed.
As part of its corporate rights and privileges, the House of Commons, through
the Speaker, holds exclusive jurisdiction over its premises and the people
within. The administrative activities of the House are numerous and diverse.
All matters of finance and administration are overseen by the Board of Internal
Economy, a statutory body of Members of Parliament. The House is accommodated
for the most part in heritage buildings, which are recognized national symbols.
These and other characteristics inevitably produce a necessarily complex
administrative decision‑making process.
The Board of Internal Economy is the
governing body of the House of Commons. It has a long statutory history,
originating in 1868 with the passage of An Act respecting the internal
Economy of the House of Commons, and for other purposes.
The membership of the Board consists of the
Speaker, who acts as its Chair, two Ministers of the Crown (appointed to the
Board by the Governor in Council), the Leader of the Opposition or his or her
representative, and additional Members appointed in numbers resulting in an
overall equality of government and opposition representatives (apart from the
Speaker), regardless of the composition of the House of Commons. All recognized opposition parties (i.e., those holding at least 12
seats in the House) are given representation on the Board. The Speaker informs
the House of appointments no later than 15 sitting days after they are made. Each member of the Board is required to take an oath or affirmation
“of fidelity and secrecy”, administered by the Clerk of the House.
The Clerk of the House is the Secretary to
the Board of Internal Economy. When Parliament is dissolved, members of the Board retain their
functions until they are replaced. This ensures continuity in the administrative leadership of the
House; the practice has been that decisions taken by the Board while Parliament
is dissolved are confined to those of a housekeeping nature.
Meetings of the Board of Internal Economy
are chaired by the Speaker of the House. Five members, including the Speaker,
constitute a quorum. In the event of the death, disability or absence of the Speaker,
five members of the Board constitute a quorum; one must be a Minister. The
members present then designate one of their number to chair the meeting.
The powers and authority of the Board flow
from provisions of the Parliament of Canada Act, the Standing Orders of
the House of Commons, and the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations
Act. Under the Parliament of Canada Act, the Board has legal
authority to “act on all financial and administrative matters respecting the
House of Commons, its premises, its services and its staff; and the Members of
the House of Commons”. The Board examines and approves the annual budget estimates of the
House before the Speaker transmits them to the President of the Treasury Board,
who will then lay them before the House with the estimates of the government. All sums of money voted for the House by Parliament are released by
order of the Board. In other words, the Board of Internal Economy manages all
operating and administrative expenses of the House, including employee salaries
and amounts payable to Members (i.e., their sessional allowances, and travel
and communications costs). In administrative matters, the Board is responsible
for managing the premises, services and staff of the House as well as those
goods, services and premises made available to Members to carry out their
Pursuant to the Standing Orders of the
House, the Board approves and controls the budgetary expenditures of the
committees of the House of Commons, and must cause to be tabled an annual
financial report outlining the expenses incurred by each committee. The rules further require that when the Board has reached a
decision concerning any budget presented to it, the Speaker shall lay upon the
Table the record of the Board’s decision.
In accordance with the Parliamentary
Employment and Staff Relations Act, the Board is deemed to be the employer
of the staff of the House of Commons, as defined in the Act (the chief
exception being Members’ staff, who are deemed to be employed by the Members). As employer, the Board approves rates of pay for unrepresented
employees and authorizes officials of the House to negotiate the renewal of the
collective agreements of unionized employees and ratifies such agreements.
Pursuant to the Standing Orders, two
members of the Board, one government representative and one opposition
representative, are designated to be responsible for answering any questions
pertaining to the administration of the House which may be put during Question
Period. These spokespersons may also respond to points of order in the
House on behalf of the Board.
The Board is authorized by the Parliament
of Canada Act to make by-laws governing Members’ use of the funds, goods,
services and premises made available to them. When the Board makes a by-law, it
must be tabled in the House within 30 days of its making, or deposited with the
Clerk if the House is not sitting.
The Standing Orders require the Speaker to
table at the beginning of each new session of Parliament a report of decisions
of the Board of Internal Economy for the previous session. Early in the Thirty‑Fifth Parliament (1994‑97), a new
practice was instituted whereby records of the Board’s decisions (typically in
the form of minutes) are tabled in the House as soon as they have been approved
by the Board.
Some of the duties of the Standing
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs also deal with the administration of
the House. The Committee’s mandate includes, among other things, reviewing and
reporting to the House and to the Board of Internal Economy on issues
concerning the management of the House and the provision of services and
facilities to Members.
Moreover, the Committee reviews the effectiveness and management of operations
under the joint control of the House of Commons and the Senate, radio and
television broadcasting of proceedings of the House and its committees, and matters
relating to the election of Members.
In addition, the Committee considers the
budgetary estimates of the House of Commons
as well as the main estimates of Elections Canada, and the annual report of the
Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner pertaining to activities in
relation to Members of Parliament.
Members are supported in their
parliamentary functions by services administered by the Clerk of the House
who, as the chief executive of the House Administration, reports to the
Speaker. The Clerk is appointed by Order in Council, following the referral of the name of the proposed appointee to the Standing
Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, and the ratification of the
appointment by the House. The Clerk is the senior permanent official of the House. The Clerk
advises and supports the Speaker, the House and its committees in all
procedural and administrative matters, and acts as Secretary to the Board of
Internal Economy. The staff and administration of the House come under the control of
The Standing Orders establishing the procedural and administrative functions of
the Clerk have changed little since Confederation; however, the
responsibilities of the office have evolved considerably as the administrative
apparatus of the House has become more complex.
The Clerk is responsible for maintaining
records of the proceedings of the House and for keeping custody of these
records and other documents in the possession of the House. The Standing
Orders also require the Clerk to provide the Speaker, prior to each sitting of
the House, with the official agenda for the day’s proceedings, published under
the title Order Paper and Notice Paper.
This rule has traditionally been interpreted to mean that the Speaker must be
in possession of the current Order Paper and Notice Paper in order for
the day’s proceedings to begin.
All decisions of the House are authenticated
by signature of the Clerk. At the beginning of a Parliament, the Clerk
administers the oath of allegiance to all duly‑elected Members. The Clerk
also administers an oath to Members joining the Board of Internal Economy.
In addition, the Clerk is responsible for administering the oath of allegiance
to all employees of the House Administration.
Reporting to the Clerk are senior officials
who are responsible for the various organizational units of the House
the Deputy Clerk, responsible for
providing procedural services to the House of Commons and its committees;
the Sergeant-at-Arms, responsible for
providing services pertaining to security
and accommodation matters and for providing food services;
the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel,
responsible for providing legal counsel services to the Speaker, the Board of
Internal Economy, Members, the Clerk and officials of the House of Commons
Administration along with legal and legislative counsel services to Members and
committees of the House of Commons;
the Chief Information Officer/Executive
Director, Information Services, responsible for providing information
management and information technology, multimedia, publishing and printing
services to the House of Commons;
the Chief Financial Officer, responsible for
providing services pertaining to financial management as well as material and
resource information management to the House of Commons; and
the Director General, Human Resources and
Corporate Planning Services, responsible for providing human resources and
corporate planning services to the House of Commons.
Along with the Clerk of the House, the
Deputy Clerk, the Sergeant‑at‑Arms, and the Law Clerk and
Parliamentary Counsel also have duties in the Chamber when the House is sitting.
 Constitution Act, 1867, R.S. 1985, Appendix II,
No. 5, s. 17.
 Maingot, 2nd ed., pp. 183‑5. See also
Chapter 3, “Privileges and Immunities”.
 An example would be the House‑wide program of environmental
awareness and conservation, known as “Greening the Hill”, established in 1990
by Speaker Fraser, well in advance of other such initiatives in the public
 Sixth Report of the Special Committee on Procedure and Organization,
presented to the House on May 20, 1964 (Journals, pp. 331‑7).
 For a description of the administrative review, see comments of
Speaker Jerome in Debates, November 1, 1979, pp. 841‑3.
 See the exchange of correspondence between the Speaker of the House
and the Auditor General, tabled on November 1, 1979 (Journals,
p. 162) and printed by Order of the House (Journals,
November 2, 1979, p. 168) as an Appendix to the Debates
 The interim report was tabled in the House (Journals,
November 1 and 2, 1979, pp. 162, 168) and a summary report appeared
as Chapter 5 of the Auditor General’s report for the fiscal year ended
March 31, 1980 (tabled in the House on December 11, 1980 (Journals,
p. 840)). The full audit report was filed as an exhibit with the Standing
Committee on Public Accounts (Minutes of Proceedings, February 10,
1981, Issue No. 21, p. 3).
 Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Report of the Auditor
General of Canada to the House of Commons, Ottawa: Minister of Supply and
Services Canada, 1980, par. 5.8 to 5.10.
 Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Report of the Audit of
the House of Commons Administration, Ottawa: Minister of Supply and
Services Canada, November 1991, p. 9, tabled on November 21,
1991 (Journals, p. 703, Debates, pp. 5158‑9).
 See, for example, Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985,
c. P‑1; Salaries Act, R.S. 1985, c. S‑3; Official
Languages Act, R.S. 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.); Canada Post
Corporation Act, R.S. 1985, c. C‑10, s. 35.
 See, for example, Standing Orders 107, 121 and 148 to 159.
 May, 23rd ed., p. 218.
 For further information on the role of the Speaker, see
Chapter 7, “The Speaker and Other Presiding Officers of the House”.
 See the Report of the House of Commons to Canadians, tabled
each spring by the Speaker and posted on the Parliament of Canada Web site
(www.parl.gc.ca), for budgetary and staffing figures.
 S.C. 1868, c. 27.
 Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P-1,
s. 50(2). Until November 1997, when these provisions came into effect
(Bill C‑13, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act (composition
of the Board of Internal Economy) received Royal Assent on
November 27, 1997), the Deputy Speaker was automatically a member of the
Board of Internal Economy. Peter Milliken (Kingston and the Islands), who was
Deputy Speaker at the time, was subsequently appointed to the Board as one of
the government’s representatives (Journals, December 11, 1997,
p. 391). His successor, Bob Kilger (Stormont–Dundas–Charlottenburgh), was
also appointed to the Board (Journals, January 31, 2001, p. 17).
Subsequent Deputy Speakers have not been appointed.
 Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1,
s. 50(4). See, for example, Journals, April 4, 2006, p. 12
(appointment of several members at the beginning of a Parliament);
February 1, 2005, p. 373 (appointment of one member to replace
 Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1,
s. 50(5). The text is set out as Form 3 of the Schedule to the Act.
 Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1,
 Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1, s. 53.
 Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1,
 Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1,
 R.S. 1985, c. P‑1, s. 52.3.
 Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1,
 Standing Order 121.
 Standing Order 148(2).
 R.S. 1985, c. 33 (2nd Supp.), ss. 3 and 4(2). The
Board of Internal Economy issues guidelines to Members in connection with their
role as employers.
 Standing Order 37(2). See, for example, Debates, May 30,
2001, p. 4400. See also Chapter 11, “Questions”.
 On November 20, 2002, a point of order was raised regarding a
breach in security which had occurred on Parliament Hill the previous day. The
point of order pertained to the responsibilities of the Board of Internal
Economy. The Speaker declined to respond on behalf of the Board, stating that
the Board had designated spokespersons (Debates, p. 1662). The next day,
the Member designated by the Board responded to the point of order (Debates,
November 21, 2002, pp. 1743‑4).
 R.S. 1985, c. P‑1, s. 52.5(3).
 Standing Order 148(1).
 Debates, February 17, 1994, p. 1507.
 Standing Order 108(3)(a)(i).
 Standing Order 108(3)(a)(ii), (v) and (vi). For further information on this Committee, see Chapter 20, “Committees”.
 Standing Order 81(4). See, for example, statements of the Speaker
in appearances before the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, Evidence,
April 14, 2005, Meeting No. 29; May 11, 2006, Meeting No. 6.
 Standing Order 108(3)(a)(vii).
 Since Confederation, 12 Clerks have served the House of Commons
(see Appendix 9, “Clerks of the House of Commons Since 1867”). The office of Clerk has a long history in British parliamentary tradition. The first official
appointment of a Clerk to the Commons took place in 1363, though from much
earlier times kings had employed officials to record their decisions and those
of their advisors. In the language of the time, the word “clerk” simply
indicated a person who could read and write. Thus, the early Clerks of the
House were servants of the Crown appointed to assist the Commons with its
business. Their duties included reading petitions and bills. As the Commons
gained in stature and recognition, its Clerk became more identified with the
institution. In the mid‑sixteenth century, Clerks began keeping notes on
proceedings in the House, and these evolved into the Journals. During the
tumultuous sittings of the Long Parliament (1640‑53), the role of Clerk
grew to include advising the Chair and the House on procedural matters (Wilding
and Laundy, 4th ed., pp. 134‑5). For a historical account, see
Marsden, P., The Officers of the Commons 1363‑1978, London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1979.
 Standing Order 111.1. This Standing Order was established following
the adoption of the Report of the Special Committee on the Modernization and
Improvement of the Procedures of the House of Commons on October 4, 2001 (Journals,
pp. 691-3), par. 42 to 44. Audrey O’Brien was the first Clerk of the House
appointed pursuant to Standing Order 111.1 (Journals,
September 30, 2005, p. 1068; Order Paper and Notice Paper, October
5, 2005, p. III; Journals, October 6, 2005, p. 1121;
October 7, 2005, p. 1152).
 Occasionally, in appreciation of their service to the House,
former Clerks have been designated as Honourary Officers of the House, and
granted an entrée to the Chamber and a seat at the Table. See, for example, the
designations of Robert Marleau (Journals, September 18, 2000, p. 1906)
and William Corbett (Journals, October 7, 2005, p. 1152) as Honourary
Officers. This honour has also been extended to a former Member of Parliament
in recognition of his long service to the House. See the designation of Stanley
Knowles (Journals, March 13, 1984, p. 244).
 Standing Order 151.
 Standing Order 151.
 Standing Order 152.
 Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1,
 Parliament of Canada Act, R.S. 1985, c. P‑1,
s. 49(1). This section of the Act also requires the Clerk to swear the
oath before the Speaker of the House.
 From time to time since Confederation, the
Clerk of the House has been assisted by a Deputy Clerk and one or more Clerks
Assistant, who act as Table Officers. Table Officers
are part of a corps of procedural staff, trained by means of an established
career structure which provides experience in a variety of procedural fields.
See Koester, C.S., “The Clerkship as a Profession: An Account of the
Development of the Concept in the Canadian House of Commons 1980‑1986”, The
Table, Vol. LVII, 1989, pp. 35‑43. The appointment to the
position of Deputy Clerk has been made by Order in Council. See, for example,
the appointments of Mary Anne Griffith (Journals, September 18,
1987, p. 1485), Camille Montpetit (Canada Gazette, Part I,
November 7, 1998, p. 3036; Journals,
February 11, 1999, p. 1498), William Corbett (Canada Gazette,
Part I, October 30, 1999, p. 3126), Audrey O’Brien (Canada
Gazette, Part I, July 15, 2000, p. 2212) and Marc Bosc (Canada
Gazette, Part I, October 29, 2005, p. 3454). Appointments
to the position of Clerk Assistant have been made at various times either by
the Speaker (see, for example, the appointments of John
George Bourinot (Journals, February 17, 1879, p. 8, Debates,
cols. 5‑6) and Arthur Beauchesne (Journals, February 15,
1916, pp. 79‑80; February 17, 1916, p. 85)), or by Order in Council (see, for example,
the appointments of Charles Beverley Koester (Journals, October 14,
1975, p. 754), Philip A.C. Laundy (Journals, March 4, 1983,
p. 5672), Robert Marleau (Journals, March 4, 1983,
p. 5672), Mary Anne Griffith (Journals, January 21, 1985,
p. 224), Audrey O’Brien (Canada Gazette, Part I, January 15, 2000,
p. 64), Marc Bosc (Canada Gazette, Part I, July 15, 2000, p. 2212) and
Marie-Andrée Lajoie (Canada Gazette, Part I,
October 29, 2005, p. 3454)).
 The office of Sergeant‑at‑Arms originated in the early
years of the British Parliament, when mace‑bearing members of the Royal
bodyguard were assigned to attend the Speaker at sittings of the House of
Commons. With the Sergeant‑at‑Arms and the Mace, the House could
exercise its powers of arrest, trial and imprisonment and pursue its lengthy
struggle to establish its rights and privileges. For a detailed history of the
office, see Marsden. The Sergeant‑at‑Arms
also assists the Clerk in performing certain ceremonial functions. The
ceremonial role of the Sergeant‑at‑Arms entails accompanying the
Speaker, as Mace bearer in the Speaker’s Parade to and
from the Chamber, in the parade to the Senate Chamber for the reading of the
Speech from the Throne, and for Royal Assent ceremonies. When engaged in ceremonial functions and when attending sittings of
the House, the Sergeant‑at‑Arms is attired formally in black
tailcoat and cocked hat, with a sword signifying the authority of the office. In 1849, when rioters entered the Parliament Building in Montreal, the Sergeant‑at‑Arms reportedly drew his sword while attempting to
protect the Mace (Beauchesne, Canada’s Parliament Building: The Senate and House of Commons, Ottawa, pp. 56‑7). The appointment to
the position of Sergeant-at-Arms has been made by Order in Council. See, for
example, the appointments of Lt. Col. David Currie (Debates, January 14, 1960,
p. 5), Maj. Gen. Gaston Cloutier (Debates, May 4, 1978,
p. 5139) and Kevin Vickers (Debates, September 18, 2006,
p. 2892). See Appendix 11, “Sergeants‑at‑Arms of the
House of Commons Since 1867”.
 This includes personal security for the Prime Minister in the
precinct of Parliament and maintaining order in the Chamber and all the
parliamentary buildings as well as the protection and security of Members,
employees, visitors and property within the House precinct. Prior to the
creation of the House of Commons Security Services in 1920, security was the
responsibility of the Dominion Police (which in 1920 was merged with the Royal
North West Mounted Police to create a new national force, the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police). For further information, see Canada, House of Commons,
Security Services Directorate, History of the House of Commons Security
Services 1920‑1995, Ottawa, 1995.
 The Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel has also traditionally been
a Table Officer and, like the Deputy Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms, is also an
Order-in-Council appointee. At present, the Deputy Law Clerk and Parliamentary
Counsel is a Table Officer as well. See Appendix 10, “Law Clerks of the
House of Commons Since 1867”.