Although there is no Standing Order that
requires the Speech from the Throne to be debated at the beginning of a new
session, traditionally, when the House returns from the Senate, a day is
designated for the consideration of the Speech. The
Prime Minister moves a motion to consider the Throne Speech either later that
day or at the next sitting of the House. The motion does not require notice and, while it is generally moved
and adopted without debate, it is debatable and amendable.
On the day specified in the motion for the
consideration of the Speech from the Throne, a government backbencher moves
that an Address be presented to the Governor General (or, depending on who
delivered the speech, to the Sovereign or to the Administrator of the
Government of Canada) “to offer our humble thanks … for the gracious
speech which Your Excellency has addressed”. This allows for wide‑ranging
debate on the government policies announced in the Throne Speech, and provides
a rare opportunity for Members to address topics of their choice.
From 1867 to 1893, the motion for the
Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne typically consisted of several
paragraphs, each of which received separate consideration. The paragraphs
collectively formed a resolution that was adopted and referred to a select
committee. The committee would then report the Address in Reply to the House
where it would be agreed to, engrossed (that is, transcribed upon parchment)
and presented to the Governor General. This cumbersome procedure was changed in
1893, when a new practice was adopted whereby the House itself considered the
Address in the form of a presentation to the Governor General. It was not until 1903 that the motion for an Address in Reply
became one brief paragraph of thanks for the Speech from the Throne.
Following the mover’s speech, a second
government backbencher (usually one who speaks the official language that is not that of
the mover) is recognized to speak to and second the motion. Both the mover and
seconder are typically chosen from the ranks of those Members most recently
elected. Over the past few years, in contrast to previous practice, their
speeches have been followed by a 10‑minute questions and comments period. When the seconder has completed his speech and responded to the
questions and comments, the Leader of the Opposition normally moves to adjourn
the debate. The usual practice is for the Prime Minister or a Minister, often
the Government House Leader or President of the Privy Council, to then move the
adjournment of the House.
The Standing Orders provide for six
additional days of debate on the motion and on any amendments proposed thereto. These days are designated by a Minister, usually the Government
House Leader, and are not necessarily consecutive. The House normally debates
the Address early in the session when there is little or no government business
on the Order Paper. In the following days, the government typically
places bills or motions on notice to sustain the work of the House later on.
The fact that the debate on the Address has
not been completed or that the House has not yet voted on it does not preclude
the House from discussing or voting on other issues.
The purpose of giving first reading to the pro forma Bill C-1, An Act
respecting the Administration of Oaths of Office, is to assert the
independence of the House of Commons, and its right to choose its own business
and to deliberate without reference to the causes of summons as expressed in
the Speech from the Throne.
Since 1955, the Standing Orders have
provided that, when the Order of the Day is called to resume debate on the
motion for an Address in Reply, the Order takes precedence over all other
business of the House, with the exception of the daily routine of
business―that is, Routine Proceedings, Statements by Members and Oral
Questions. Private Members’ Business, which used to be suspended on these
days, is now held if necessary.
The first day of resumed debate is known as
“Leaders’ Day”. It is traditional for the Leader of the Opposition to speak
first and to move an amendment to the main motion. Normally, the Prime Minister
speaks next, and is followed by the leader of the second‑largest party in
opposition, who may propose a subamendment. Other leaders of parties with
official status in the House are then recognized in turn. Leaders of parties holding fewer than 12 seats are not
automatically recognized for debate on Leaders’ Day.
While this has been the customary speaking
order, there is no specific rule stating the order in which party leaders are
recognized during the debate on the Address in Reply. During the Address in
Reply proceedings in 1989, the leader of the second largest party in opposition
spoke after the Leader of the Opposition; the Prime Minister delivered his
speech the day after Leaders’ Day. In 1991, when the Prime Minister did not rise to speak after the
speech of the Leader of the Opposition, a complaint was lodged with the Chair
by the Opposition House Leader. The Speaker ruled that, in the absence of any
Standing Order to this effect, Members were not bound to any particular
speaking order. The Prime Minister subsequently addressed the House the next day,
and the leader of the second largest party in opposition delivered her speech
Until 1955, there was no prescribed limit
on the length of the debate on the Address in Reply, and debates lasted
anywhere from one day to a record length of 28 days. In
1955, further to the recommendations of a special committee on procedure, the
House first instituted a limit on the length of debate on the Address in Reply
when it agreed to a maximum of 10 days of debate and to morning sittings (not
then a feature of the regular sitting day) for the duration of the debate. This was further reduced to eight days in 1960, and, in 1991, the Standing Orders were again amended to provide for
a maximum of six days of debate.
There have been, however, a number of
instances where the House has voted on the motion although the debate lasted
for less than the maximum number of days provided for in the Standing Orders. There have also been instances where the debate was not completed
because of either a prorogation or dissolution: in 1988, only the mover
and seconder of the motion had an opportunity to speak before the session ended
by prorogation after only 11 sittings. In 1997, when Parliament was
dissolved for a general election after 164 sittings, only five of the six
days provided for the Address debate had been completed.
As indicated in the Standing Orders, any
unused days may be added, if the House so agrees, to the number of allotted
days for the supply period in which they occur. However, this rule has never
been applied since coming into effect in 1968.
With the exception of the Prime Minister
and Leader of the Opposition, who have unlimited speaking time, Members may
speak for a maximum of 20 minutes on the Address. In
every instance, a 10-minute questions and comments period may be held following
each speech. Members limited to a 20-minute speech may indicate to the Chair
that they wish to share their time with a colleague, either from their own
party or from another party. A party Whip may also indicate that Members of his
or her party will be sharing their 20-minute speaking time over the course of a
debate. In such cases, each Member may speak for 10 minutes, followed by
five minutes for questions and comments.
Any Member may be recognized to speak in
this debate, though the speaking order normally follows a rotation that
reflects party standings in the House. On occasion, in order to allow as many
Members as possible to speak to the motion, the House has reduced the length of
speeches or the length of the period for questions and comments, sometimes even
eliminating the questions and comments period altogether.
In the early years of Confederation, one
view held that attempts to amend the Address in Reply motion ought not to be
In 1873, the first amendments were moved to the Address in Reply motion when a
motion of censure was made against the government for its conduct in the
“Pacific Scandal”. Although a subamendment subsequently proposed an expression
of confidence in the government,
Parliament was prorogued following a change in government before the amendments
were put to a vote. Amendments were moved again in 1893 and 1899.
Over the course of the next 40 years, amendments were commonly moved,
although not systematically. It was not until World War II that the practice of
moving amendments to the Address in Reply motion became more entrenched.
Recent practice has been that the Leader of
the Opposition moves an amendment on the first day of resumed debate. A subamendment
is then normally proposed by the leader of the second largest opposition party.
It is not unusual, however, for another Member from that party to do so.
Given the general nature of the motion, the
rule of relevance is not strictly applied to the proposed amendment (as opposed
to the subamendments). However, precedents indicate that an amendment should
add some distinct element of its own, whereas a subamendment must be relevant
to the amendment and cannot raise a new issue.
A subamendment adding words with the effect
of making the amendment a motion of non-confidence in the Official Opposition
has been ruled inadmissible since “votes of want of confidence are only
directed against the Government of the day”.
The Speaker has ruled out of order amendments which were not deemed to
challenge directly the government’s policies
or which, in the Speaker’s view, were the equivalent of ordering the House to
increase government spending and as such requiring a royal recommendation. An amendment similar to one
on which the House had already expressed a judgement earlier in the debate has
also been disallowed.
Until 1955, there were no provisions in the
Standing Orders dealing with the moving of amendments or when to put the
question thereon. As with an amendment to any motion, the question was not put
until no Member rose to speak to it. In 1955, a new Standing Order was adopted which established a framework for deciding amendments.
The first subamendment must be disposed of
on the second appointed day when the Speaker interrupts the proceedings 15
minutes before the expiry of the time provided for debate to put the question
on the subamendment.
Subamendments may again be proposed on the third or fourth day. On the fourth day,
the Speaker interrupts the debate 30 minutes before the expiry of the time
provided for debate to dispose of any amendment or subamendment before the
No further amendments are permitted to the main motion on the fifth and sixth
Finally, on the sixth day, unless the debate has previously concluded, the
Speaker interrupts the debate 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided
for debate to put all the questions necessary to dispose of the main motion.
The Address in Reply to the Speech from the
Throne has been adopted with an amendment on only five occasions. In the first
two instances, an amendment moved by a Member of the Opposition was itself
amended by a subamendment moved by a Member of the government party.
In the next two instances, the House voted
in favour of the subamendment moved by the second largest party in opposition
and concurred in the amendment and the main motion, as amended. In the most
recent instance, the House concurred in the amendment moved by the Official
Opposition and then in the main motion, as amended. Concurrence in
these amendments was not deemed to be a test of the confidence of the House in
the government of the day,
as the government had already agreed with the amendments.
Furthermore, the Address adopted in 2004
during the First Session of the Thirty-Eighth Parliament asked the government
to consider the advisability of giving orders of reference to three standing
committees, instructing each to make recommendations on specific matters. The
House concurred in this suggestion shortly after it was made, and adopted a
Special Order to this effect for each of the three committees.
Immediately after the adoption of the
motion for the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, the House adopts
a motion without debate or amendment that the Address be engrossed, that is,
transcribed upon parchment, and presented to the Governor General in person by
the Speaker of the House of Commons.
It is customary for the Speaker to be accompanied by the Speaker of the Senate,
a few invited Members (including the mover and seconder of the Address, the
House Leaders and the party Whips), and the Clerks of both Houses.
 The Standing Orders do not prescribe such a debate; they merely set
the rules for resuming debate on the motion for the Address in Reply to the
Speech from the Throne and for the disposal of any amendments and
subamendments, as well as the main motion (Standing Order 50). In 1940, for
instance, no Address debate was held for the Sixth Session of the Eighteenth
Parliament. The session lasted only one day, January 25, 1940, with the
government using the Speech from the Throne to advise Parliament of its
intention to dissolve Parliament in order to hold a general election.
Dissolution occurred the same day (Journals, January 25, 1940, pp. 1, 8,
 See, for example, Journals, October 16, 2007, p. 4. It
is noted in Bourinot (Bourinot, Sir J.G., Parliamentary Procedure and
Practice in the Dominion of Canada, 4th ed., edited by T.B. Flint, Toronto:
Canada Law Book Company, 1916, p. 95) that other Ministers in the absence
of the Prime Minister may move this motion. In fact, this has occurred on a
number of occasions. Examples of this can be found on April 18, 1895, when
George Eulas Foster, Minister of Finance and Receiver General in the Cabinet of
Prime Minister Mackenzie Bowell, moved the motion (Journals, p. 5)
and on January 8, 1926, when Ernest Lapointe, Minister of Justice and
Attorney General in the Cabinet of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie
King, moved the motion (Journals, p. 12). Since the 1950s, the
Prime Minister has moved the motion. Between 1896 and 1956, the motion
appointed a specific day on which consideration of the Speech from the Throne
 Debate has occurred on at least three occasions. On January 8,
1926, an amendment was moved to the motion to consider the speech of the
Governor General. This amendment was debated over the course of two sittings
and negatived on a recorded division (Journals, pp. 12‑3;
January 14, 1926, pp. 28‑9). On February 17, 1972, an
amendment to the motion to consider the speech of the Governor General to
provide for a 40‑minute oral Question Period was proposed. The Speaker
ruled the amendment out of order because it was a substantive motion, which
could not be attached to the motion before the House. The Speaker noted,
however, that the motion could be amended if a procedurally acceptable
amendment were proposed (Journals, pp. 5‑6). The third
instance of debate on the motion for consideration can be found in the Journals,
December 12, 1988, p. 6.
 Furthermore, on two occasions, Ministers of Finance took the
opportunity provided by their speeches during the Address in Reply to make an
economic statement and table notices of ways and means motions (Journals,
October 20, 1977, pp. 18-9, Debates, pp. 98-102; Journals,
April 21, 1980, pp. 61‑2, Debates, pp. 241-7). In
the latter case, the speech gave rise to a question of privilege. A Member was
of the opinion that the Minister of Finance had breached the privileges of the
House by making a budget presentation under the pretext of the debate on the
Address, preventing the budget debate from taking place as prescribed by the
Standing Orders (Debates, April 22, 1980, pp. 265-85). In her ruling,
Speaker Sauvé reiterated that the Minister never said he was making a budget
presentation and that Members are entitled to address any issue when speaking
during the debate on the Speech from the Throne. She also pointed out that the
Standing Orders clearly established that a budget presentation is not necessary
in order to table notices of ways and means motions and that notices may be
tabled at any time (Debates, April 28, 1980, pp. 459-61).
 Journals, January 30, 1893, p. 33.
 Journals, March 13, 1903, p. 25.
 In 2007, the seconder was the Parliamentary Secretary for Official
Languages (Journals, October 16, 2007, p. 5).
 Bourinot, 4th ed., p. 97. Twice in recent years,
however, this practice was not followed. In 2004 and 2006, two Members (Karen
Redman (Kitchener-Centre) and Rick Casson (Lethbridge)) seconded the motion for
an Address in Reply even though they had first been elected to the House in
1997 (Journals, February 2, 2004, p. 4; April 4, 2006, p. 14).
 Previous practice was that speeches from the mover and the seconder
of the Address in Reply were not followed by a questions and comments period.
The last time this practice was followed dates back to 1999 (Debates,
October 12, 1999, pp. 7-12). However, in 2001, the seconder did receive several
questions, prompting a point of order from the Prime Minister (Debates,
January 30, 2001, pp. 17-21). Questions and comments also followed the
seconder’s speech during the Address debate in 2002 (Debates, September
30, 2002, pp. 8-14) and, beginning in 2004, a questions and comments period followed the speeches by the mover as well as by the seconder. See, for example, Debates,
April 4, 2006, pp. 11-5. In 2005, the Standing Orders were amended so that a period
for questions and comments of up to 10 minutes would automatically be held
after any 20-minute speech when the Speaker is in the Chair (Journals,
February 18, 2005, pp. 451, 455).
 The Leader of the Opposition has always adjourned the debate since
1935. See, for example, Journals, October 16, 2007, p. 5; November 19, 2008,
 See, for example, Journals, October 16, 2007, p. 5.
From 1904 until 1979, with only a few exceptions, the Prime Minister would move
the motion that the House do now adjourn. Since 1980, with one exception, a
Minister has moved the adjournment of the House. In 1983, the Parliamentary
Secretary to the President of the Privy Council moved the adjournment of the
House (Journals, December 8, 1983, p. 21). On April 4,
1989, the House did not adjourn in the traditional way. The Speaker accepted an
application for an emergency debate to consider the oil spill that had occurred
outside the Port of Valdez, Alaska. That day the motion to adjourn the debate
on the Address in Reply was moved by the Leader of the Opposition, the sitting
was suspended until 8:00 p.m., and the emergency debate was held pursuant to
the Standing Orders. At 2:05 a.m., the Speaker declared the motion carried
and the House adjourned (Journals, pp. 22‑3). Again, in 1996,
the House did not adjourn in the traditional way: following the motion by
the Leader of the Opposition to adjourn the debate, Government Orders were
called. An opposition Member (Gilles Duceppe (Laurier–Sainte‑Marie))
immediately rose on a point of order to object to the receivability of a
government motion reinstating a number of bills listed on the Order Paper
at the time of prorogation, and making temporary amendments to certain Standing
Orders. Debate on the point of order continued until the ordinary hour of daily
adjournment, at which time the Deputy Speaker adjourned the sitting until the
following day (Debates, February 27, 1996, pp. 26‑30).
 Standing Order 50(1).
 In 1950, at the opening of the Third Session of the Twenty-First
Parliament, Prime Minister St‑Laurent moved a motion which was adopted
giving precedence to the Bill entitled An Act to provide for the Resumption
of Operations of Railways and for the Settlement of the Existing Dispute with
respect to Terms and Conditions of Employment between Railway Companies and
their Employees (Journals, August 29, 1950, pp. 5-6). The Bill was
adopted by both Houses of Parliament on August 30, 1950 (Journals, pp.
7-15) and the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne did
not begin until the next day, August 31, 1950 (Journals, pp. 18-9). In
addition, in 1988, during the First Session of the Thirty-Fourth Parliament,
the Address debate was never resumed. Instead, the House concurred in a ways
and means motion the day after the Throne Speech (Journals, December 13,
1988, pp. 15-6) and began consideration of a bill based on the ways and means
motion implementing the Free Trade Agreement with the United States the next day (Journals, December 14, 1988, pp. 20-2). The bill was given
Royal Assent on December 30, 1988 (Journals, p. 86) and Parliament was
prorogued on February 28, 1989 (Journals, p. 89). Furthermore,
during the Second Session of the Thirty-Fifth Parliament, the Address in Reply
to the Speech from the Throne was not completed before dissolution. This did
not, however, prevent the government from proceeding with its legislative
agenda or even from making two budget presentations, one on March 6, 1996 (Journals,
p. 54) and the other on February 25, 1997 (Journals, p. 1145).
 For further information on the pro forma Bill C-1, An Act
respecting the Administration of Oaths of Office, see Chapter 8, “The
 Standing Order 50(3). See Journals, July 12, 1955,
pp. 881‑945, in particular, pp. 908‑9. Beginning in the
1890s and until 1950, the House routinely agreed that the debate on the Address
in Reply to the Speech from the Throne should have varying degrees of
precedence over other business. See, for example, Journals,
February 7, 1898, p. 23; December 8, 1947, p. 40. Such
motions were not moved in 1903, 1905, either session in 1906, 1910, the first
session in 1914, 1930, either session in 1932, 1934, 1935, or the second
session in 1939 or in 1945. One exception to this rule is that precedence is
given to the debate on a motion of privilege. For further information, see
Chapter 3, “Privileges and Immunities”.
 Standing Order 50(3).
 In 1997 and 2001, the House adopted a motion whereby the House
would not adjourn until the leaders of all recognized parties had spoken in the
debate on the Address (Journals, September 23, 1997,
p. 9; January 31, 2001, p. 18). In 2007, a Special Order provided for an extension of the time provided for Government Orders if a representative of any
political party had not had the opportunity to speak before the conclusion of
Government Orders (Journals, October 17, 2007, p. 10).
 Debates, October 10, 1979, pp. 47‑51;
October 11, 1979, p. 69.
 Debates, April 5, 1989, p. 131;
April 6, 1989, p. 145. In this example, the New Democratic Party
Leader Edward Broadbent spoke after the Leader of the Opposition, John Turner;
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney spoke the following day.
 Debates, May 14, 1991, p. 24.
 In 1926, the government imposed closure on the 28th day of debate
in order to terminate these proceedings so that it could adjourn the House for
a brief period to prepare the work of the session (Journals,
March 2, 1926, pp. 123‑7). The lengthy debate was the result of
the challenge by the Conservative Opposition led by Arthur Meighen of the King
government’s right to summon Parliament and remain in office following the
results of the general election of October 29, 1925. See the speech of
Ernest Lapointe (Leader of the House) (Debates, March 2, 1926,
 Journals, July 12, 1955, pp. 881, 908‑9.
 Journals, July 25, 1960, p. 825; August 8,
1960, p. 898.
 Standing Order 50(1); Journals, April 11, 1991,
pp. 2905, 2912.
 See, for example, the Address debates in 1956 (both sessions), 1960
(second session), 1965, 1968 and 1978.
 This occurred on one other occasion, but before the introduction of
time limits. In 1873, the Second Session of the Second Parliament was ended by
prorogation before the questions were put on the subamendment, amendment and
 Standing Order 81(11). The first occasion when it could have
occurred was in 1978 when the Address in Reply debate concluded after only six
days of debate. At that time, the Standing Order provided for eight days of
resumed debate. However, on October 20, 1978, the House adopted a Special
Order designating October 30, 1978, the sixth and final appointed day (Journals,
October 20, 1978, p. 42). In the discussion that took place in the
House, it was noted and agreed that the two days taken away from the debate would
not be added to the number of allotted days (Debates, October 20,
1978, pp. 312‑3).
 The House has sometimes extended to other party leaders the
opportunity to speak longer than 20 minutes. See, for example, Debates,
November 7, 1984, p. 31; October 3, 1986, p. 52; May 15, 1991,
 Standing Orders 43 and 50(2). The length of speeches on the motion
for an Address in Reply has been subject to limitation since 1960 when the
House adopted amendments to the Standing Orders, which provided for speeches of
30 minutes in length with 40 minutes being granted to the movers of amendments
and subamendments (Journals, July 25, 1960, pp. 825‑6;
August 8, 1960, p. 898). In 1982, the length of speeches was reduced
to 20 minutes and the extra time for movers of amendments was eliminated (Journals,
November 29, 1982, p. 5400; Third Report of the Special Committee on
Standing Orders and Procedure, Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence,
November 5, 1982, pp. 3, 16‑17). The 10-minute questions and
comments period was also added in 1982, though explicit reference to it was
removed from Standing Order 50(2) as Standing Order 43 already stated that a
period for questions and comments could be held following any 20-minute speech and
any speech by the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition (Journals,
February 18, 2005, pp. 451-2, 455). See, for example, Debates,
October 17, 2007, pp. 44-5.
 Standing Order 43. See, for example, Debates, January
20, 1994, p. 72.
 Debates, April 11, 2006, pp. 322-3.
 See, for example, Debates, April 12, 1989, pp. 404‑5;
May 22, 1991, p. 433; January 28, 1994, p. 594;
October 3, 1997, pp. 484, 486.
 This emulated British practice. See, for example, Debates,
February 5, 1875, p. 12; February 11, 1878, p. 36;
February 17, 1879, p. 24.
 Journals, October 27, 1873, p. 126;
October 28, 1873, p. 128.
 Journals, January 30, 1893,
pp. 34‑5; April 13, 1899, p. 55; April 18, 1899,
 See, for example, Journals, February 28, 1996, pp. 8-9.
 See, for example, Journals, February 19, 1942, pp. 61-3;
January 24, 1966, pp. 43‑4; January 11, 1973, p. 28.
 Journals, February 6, 1934, p. 51.
 Journals, January 30, 1959, pp. 56-7. The amendment in
question called upon the government to establish a special committee to
investigate whether Canadian companies were governed by U.S. trade legislation and policies, and had no direct link to the Speech from the Throne.
 Journals, March 5, 1948, pp. 223‑5; see also
the Constitution Act, 1867, s. 54. Standing Order 79(1) stipulates that
the House may not adopt any address for the appropriation of any part of the
public revenue, or of any tax or impost, to any purpose that has not been first
recommended to the House by a message from the Governor General in the session
in which such vote, resolution, address or bill is proposed.
 Journals, April 12, 1965, p. 34. Similarly, later during the
session, if amendments comparable to those on which the House decided during
the Address in Reply debate are moved to other motions, these amendments could
be ruled out of order (Journals, May 3, 1955, pp. 545-6).
 Journals, July 12, 1955, pp. 881‑945, in
particular pp. 908‑9.
 Standing Order 50(4). If a recorded division is demanded, the
division bells are rung for not more than 15 minutes (Standing Order 45(3)). The
Speech from the Throne at the start of the First Session of the Fortieth
Parliament was delivered on Wednesday, November 19, 2008. During the debate the
following day, both an amendment and subamendment were moved. The second day
for resumed debate was scheduled for the Friday, thus meaning that if a
recorded division were to be requested on the subamendment, it would be
automatically deferred until the ordinary hour of daily adjournment on the
following sitting day (i.e., the following Monday). As this would have
prohibited the House from continuing to debate the Address motion on the
Monday, the House adopted a Special Order to have the question put on any
subamendment then before the House on the third day of the Address debate,
rather than the second (Journals, November 19, 2008, p. 12;
November 20, 2008, pp. 17-8; November 24, 2008, pp. 33‑5; Standing
 On occasion, the House has agreed, by special order, not to allow a
second subamendment. See, for example, Journals, October 8, 2004, p. 64.
 Standing Order 50(5). If a recorded division is demanded, the
division bells are rung for not more than 15 minutes (Standing Order 45(3)). Since
the Standing Orders were amended in 1991 to limit the Throne Speech debate to
six days, there have been five instances where a subamendment was disposed of
on the second day, and a subamendment and an amendment were disposed of on the
fourth day. There is a great deal of variation in the parties sponsoring the
second subamendment. In 1991, a second subamendment was moved by a Member of
the Bloc Québécois, which was not an officially recognized party at the time (Journals,
May 14, 1991, p. 20; May 16, 1991, p. 36). Five years
later, in 1996, a second subamendment was proposed by the second-largest
opposition party (Journals, February 28, 1996, pp. 8‑9;
March 5, 1996, p. 47). The next year, a subamendment was moved by the
third-largest opposition party (Journals,
September 24, 1997, p. 20; September 29, 1997, p. 39). In
1999 and 2002, the movers of the second subamendment were both Members of the
Official Opposition (Journals, October 13, 1999, pp. 12-3;
October 15, 1999, pp. 27-8; October 1, 2002, pp. 5‑6;
October 3, 2002, pp. 19‑20). In 2001, a Member of the fourth-largest opposition party moved a second subamendment (Journals,
January 31, 2001, p. 18; February 6, 2001, pp. 45-6).
 Standing Order 50(6).
 Standing Order 50(7). The main motion is usually disposed of
without a recorded division. See, for example, Journals, October 20, 2004,
pp. 125-6. There have, however, been instances of recorded divisions on the
main motion. See, for example, Journals, March 2, 1926,
pp. 126‑7; January 23, 1957, pp. 69‑70;
October 11, 1962, pp. 60‑1; February 17, 2004, pp. 90-1;
October 24, 2007, pp. 56-7. In such cases, the division bells are rung for
not more than 15 minutes to call the Members in to vote (Standing Order
 Journals, April 18, 1899, pp. 64‑5;
December 5, 1951, pp. 258‑62; December 12, 1951,
pp. 305‑6. In both cases, the subamendments supported the
government. While this may appear to be contradictory to the purposes of such
amendments, the effects were minimal. In the first instance, which occurred in
1899, the Address in Reply consisted of nine paragraphs. The amendment added a
10th paragraph calling for the appointment of an independent judicial
commission to investigate the administration of the Yukon Territory. The
subamendment noted the speed at which the government had acted on complaints
and praised the integrity of the Commissioner appointed. The second instance
occurred in 1951. To an amendment critical of the government's failure to make
a payment to grain producers, a Member of the government party moved a
subamendment commending the government for their continuing attention to the
problems of farmers. A point of order was raised: that the proposed
subamendment was out of order on the grounds that it was in fact not an
amendment, but rather a further motion of approval and approbation of the
government. In his ruling, Speaker Macdonald held that the subamendment was
relevant to the amendment and that it did not constitute either a direct or an
expanded negative of the main amendment. He allowed the proposed subamendment
 The most recent instances occurred during the Thirty-Eighth,
Thirty-Ninth and Fortieth Parliaments, when the government was in a minority
situation. In 2004, in the Address in Reply, the House urged the government to
review the Employment Insurance program, and to reduce and improve the fairness
of taxes. The subamendment, the amendment and the main motion were adopted by
unanimous consent; the Prime Minister had asked for unanimous consent during
the final vote (Journals, October 7, 2004, p. 58; October 18, 2004, pp.
101-2; October 20, 2004, pp. 125-6, Debates, p. 635). In 2006, the
subamendment, the amendment and the main motion were also easily adopted, but
this time pursuant to Special Orders. That year, the Address in Reply stated
that the House looked forward particularly to early and meaningful action on promises
the party in power had made during the election campaign, and that the House
saw no reason for the government to increase taxes, or to decrease daycare
spaces (Journals, April 6, 2006, pp. 28-9; April 10, 2006, p. 41; April
11, 2006, p. 48; April 24, 2006, pp. 51, 53-4). In 2008, the Address
in Reply dealt with the role and place of the opposition in the expression of
the wishes of Canadians, the functioning of and collaboration required in the
House of Commons, and the provision of detailed briefings to opposition parties
on the then upcoming economic and fiscal update (Journals,
November 20, 2008, p. 17; November 24, 2008, pp. 29‑30,
33‑5; November 25, 2008, p. 39;
November 27, 2008, p. 48).
 For further information on the confidence convention, see Chapter
2, “Parliaments and Ministries”.
 Journals, October 20, 2004, pp. 125-6; November 25, 2004,
 See, for example, Journals, February 17, 2004, pp. 90-1. In this case, the motion was agreed to on division. In the First Session of the Fortieth
Parliament, the motion for the Address in Reply was adopted on
November 27, 2008. The motion to engross the Address was moved and
adopted by unanimous consent the following day (Journals, November 27, 2008,
p. 48; November 28, 2008, p. 52).
 In 2005, the Chair was asked to rule on the government’s action on
one of the items in the Address in Reply adopted the previous year. The Speaker
deemed that the contentious element in the Address was open to interpretation
and concluded that this was a dispute as to interpretation and a matter of
debate, not a breach of privilege. The Address in Reply stated that the House
had agreed, with respect to an agreement on Canada’s participation in the U.S. ballistic missile defence plan, that Parliament would have an opportunity to consider
all public information on the agreement and to vote on the issue prior to a
government decision. The government then announced it would not be taking part
in the defence system. In the House, the Government House Leader stated that a
debate was contingent on reaching an agreement with the United States,
which was not the case (Debates, March 8, 2005, pp. 4122-4; March 22,
2005, pp. 4452‑3).