What Is the Structure of the Parliament in Canada?

The Canadian House of Commons in the Parliament building, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

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There are 338 seats in the Canadian House of Commons, called Members of Parliament or MPs, who are directly elected by Canadian voters. Each MP represents a single electoral district, commonly referred to as a riding. The role of MPs is to solve problems for constituents on a wide variety of federal government matters.

Parliamentary Structure

The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislative branch of Canada, seated at the national capital of Ottawa in Ontario. The body consists of three parts: the monarch, in this case, the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, represented by a viceroy, the governor-general; and two houses. The upper house is the Senate and a lower house is the House of Commons. The governor-general summons and appoints each of the 105 senators on the advice of the Prime Minister of Canada.

This format was inherited from the United Kingdom and thus is a near-identical copy of the parliament at Westminster in England.

By constitutional convention, the House of Commons is the dominant branch of parliament, while the Senate and monarch rarely oppose its will. The Senate reviews legislation from a less partisan standpoint and the monarch or viceroy provides the necessary royal assent to make bills into law. The governor-general also summons parliament, while either the viceroy or monarch dissolve parliament or call an end to the parliamentary session, which initiates the call for a general election.

House of Commons

Only those who sit in the House of Commons are called Members of Parliament. The term is never applied to senators, even though the Senate is a part of parliament. Though legislatively less powerful, senators take higher positions in the national order of precedence. No individual may serve in more than one chamber of parliament at the same time.

To run for one of the 338 seats in the House of Commons, an individual must be at least 18 years old, and each winner holds office until parliament is dissolved, after which they may seek re-election. The ridings are regularly reorganized according to the results of each census. Each province has at least as many MPs as it has senators. The existence of this legislation has pushed the size of the House of Commons above the required minimum of 282 seats.

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Munroe, Susan. "What Is the Structure of the Parliament in Canada?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, thoughtco.com/canadian-members-of-parliament-510491. Munroe, Susan. (2020, August 29). What Is the Structure of the Parliament in Canada? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/canadian-members-of-parliament-510491 Munroe, Susan. "What Is the Structure of the Parliament in Canada?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/canadian-members-of-parliament-510491 (accessed May 28, 2023).