The session in Parliament is a part of the role of an MP, who is a representative of the constituents in their riding. During this session, ministers in the cabinet and the Prime Minister are questioned, and national and regional matters are discussed in the House of Commons. MPs also engage in committee work, where they vote on and debate legislation. MPs are elected to represent the interests of the people in their ridings and maintain an office where they respond to the grievances of their constituents. Some MPs have a strong voice in committees and caucuses, which can influence policy formation. Policymaking is primarily the domain of senior public servants and ministers in the cabinet.
Functions in the House of Commons
The government exerts influence over various levels and roles within Parliament, where individuals can be elected or assigned to a variety of positions. These positions include opposition critics, cabinet ministers, committee chairs, party whips, the leader of the house, and the speaker. Members of Parliament (MPs) are public servants whose annual salary, starting in March 2023, is $189,500. MPs in higher positions, such as the prime minister and listed ministers, earn higher salaries due to their additional responsibilities. They also receive additional perks, such as a car allowance. Both the leader of the opposition and the prime minister are provided with housing by Sussex Drive 24.
The head of the federal government is the Prime Minister. He or she is also an elected member of Parliament. In the party system, the leader of the party with the most support in the House of Commons usually becomes the Prime Minister. People are not specifically elected to the position. Even if they are not Members of Parliament, they can still become Prime Ministers if they are party leaders. For example, John Turner spent most of his term as Prime Minister outside of the Commons. However, convention would urge them to seek a seat in a by-election or general election.
In order to govern, the prime minister and cabinet must uphold the backing (faith) of a majority of MPs in the house. During parliamentary sessions, the prime minister responds to inquiries — posed by opposition members and occasionally by party backbenchers –, engages with foreign delegations, oversees and selects cabinet members, administers the government, and establishes policy guidelines.
Legislation proposes and committees serve to draft public policy priorities set by departmental ministers. Among others, these departments often include intergovernmental affairs, justice, finance, foreign affairs, tourism, transportation, agriculture, immigration, economic development, natural resources, northern and Indigenous affairs, environment, defence, employment, health, and safety. Most ministers are formally appointed as the head of one or more departments. Cabinet ministers typically come from the party holding the most seats in the House of Commons. Certain MPs are appointed to the cabinet committee of executive power-holding ministers.
In the House of Opposition, the Shadow Cabinets, which mirror the Cabinet, generally refer to the critics of the government who hold alternate positions and offer policy ideas and criticism of their party’s message and position.
Members of Parliament who are not part of the cabinet, commonly referred to as backbenchers, traditionally occupied seats located at the rear of the Parliament. The primary responsibility of all backbenchers is to offer assistance to their constituents. Additionally, they actively participate in policy formulation within their party caucus. In addition to scrutinizing proposed laws, they may also serve on committees.
The upcoming election will feature a fresh arrangement of seats — totaling 343 in the House of Commons. The most recent election held with the existing allotment of 338 seats was the federal election of 2021. This is referred to as a “decennial census,” happening every decade following a census in a year that ends in “1,” like 2011. The allocation of seats is determined through a process called redistribution, which takes place every 10 years. The seats are fairly distributed among the provinces and territories. At present, the House of Commons consists of 338 seats.
Politicians who have been elected to serve in Parliament
Virtually all MPs elected as members of a political party are independent or campaign as a minority party. Any Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years old can run for office on election day.
The education level of Members of Parliament (MPs) is generally high. There are 227 MPs with bachelor’s degrees, 97 MPs with master’s degrees, and 14 MPs with PhDs. Many individuals elected to serve in the federal government have previously served in municipal, territorial, or provincial governments. Additionally, many individuals enter politics from the private sector. Common professions that MPs come from include journalism, teaching, consultancy, law, and business careers.
As a result of changing voting patterns, their political careers tend to be brief, lasting an average of eight years or two terms. The majority of Members of Parliament were also in their forties and fifties. Women accounted for thirty percent of MPs, which is a historically high figure. However, after the 2021 election, men made up seventy percent of the Members of Parliament.
DID YOU KNOW? Enfranchised women in Canada first gained the right to run for federal office on 7 July 1919. (See Women’s Suffrage in Canada.) In the 1921 general federal election, Agnes Campbell Macphail became the first woman elected to Parliament. She remained the only female MP in the House of Commons until Martha Louise Black was elected in 1935.
Variety in the House of Commons
In 2019, a total of 10 individuals were elected. Among the candidates, there were 77 Indigenous individuals, including 23 from First Nations. In the 2021 election, 10 individuals were elected, consisting of two Inuit, four Métis, and four First Nations representatives. In the federal election of 2019, there were 62 Indigenous candidates who ran for office. A total of 10 Indigenous Members of Parliament were elected to the House of Commons. This number increased from seven in 2011. In the 2015 federal election, there were 54 Indigenous candidates who ran for office.
In 2021, the overall count of MPs from visible minority backgrounds who were elected rose to 53 (15.7 percent). This marked an increase from 51 (15.1 percent) in 2019 and 47 (13.9 percent) in 2015. The percentage of visible minority MPs increased from 12.9 percent in 2015 to 15.7 percent in 2019, with representation from visible minority groups across the six major parties (namely, the Liberal Party of Canada, Conservative Party of Canada, New Democratic Party, Bloc Québécois, Green Party of Canada, and People’s Party of Canada).
As of October 2022, the representation in the Commons was dominated by men, who occupied 70 percent of the seats, while women only accounted for 30 percent. In the 2019 federal election, out of the 830 individuals who ran as candidates, 240 were men and 98 were women, marking an increase of 10 women compared to the 2015 federal election. The number of women participating as candidates in federal elections rose from 533 in 2015 to 597 in 2019.
Out of the total number of LGBTQ+ candidates, only four individuals who openly identify as LGBTQ+ were successfully elected to the House of Commons. It is worth noting that in the 2019 federal election, there were at least 87 LGBTQ+ community members who participated as candidates.