What Happens During the Canadian House of Commons Question Period?

This daily 45-minute Q&A puts the prime minister and others in the hot seat

House of Commons. Google Images

In Canada, Question Period is a daily 45-minute period in the House of Commons. This period allows the members of Parliament to hold the prime minister, the Cabinet and the House of Commons committee chairs accountable by asking questions about policies, decisions, and legislation.

What Happens During Question Period?

Opposition members of Parliament and occasionally other members of ​Parliament ask questions to get the prime minister, Cabinet ministers and House of Commons committee chairs to defend and explain their policies and the actions of the departments and agencies for which they are responsible.

The provincial and territorial legislative assemblies have a similar Question Period.

Questions may be asked orally without notice or may be submitted in writing after notice. Members who are not satisfied with the answer they receive to a question may pursue the matter at greater length during the Adjournment Proceedings, which occur every day except Friday.

Any member can ask a question, but the time is set aside almost exclusively for the opposition parties to confront the government and hold it accountable for its actions. The opposition typically uses this time to highlight the perceived inadequacies of the government.

The Speaker of the House of Commons oversees Question Period and may rule questions out of order.

The Purpose of Question Period

Question Period reflects the concerns of national political life and is closely followed by members of Parliament, the press and the public. Question Period is the most visible part of the Canadian House of Commons schedule and gets extensive media coverage.

Question Period is televised and is that part of the parliamentary day where the government is held accountable for its administrative policies and the conduct of its Ministers, both individually and collectively. Question Period is also a major tool for members of Parliament to use in their roles as constituency representatives and government watchdogs.