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Parliament of Canada - An Introduction

The Governor General, House of Commons and Senate of Canada


Parliament Buildings Centre Block

Parliament Buildings Centre Block

Dennis Macdonald / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

Updated: 07/24/2014

About the Parliament of Canada

The Parliament of Canada is the legislative branch of the federal government in Canada and makes the laws of Canada. Parliament is made up of three parts: the Crown or Queen, represented by the Governor General of Canada, the House of Commons and the Senate.

Governor General of Canada

In Canada, nearly all the powers and authority of the Crown or Queen have been delegated to the Governor General of Canada. Although appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, the Governor General stands above politics. The role of the Canadian Governor General is mostly symbolic and ceremonial. The Governor General summons and dissolves Parliament, gives Royal Assent to legislation and signs government documents.

Canadian House of Commons

The House of Commons in Canada is the elected lower house of Parliament and also the most powerful body of Parliament. The House of Commons is made up of 308 members of parliament elected from ridings or electoral districts across Canada. Most federal legislation is introduced in the House of Commons and once passed there goes to the Senate for review.

Senate of Canada

The Senate of Canada is the upper house of Parliament. Canadian senators are not elected. They are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Senate provides "sober, second thought" on the work done by the House of Commons by reviewing and amending legislation and on occasion vetoing bills. The Canadian Senate can also introduce its own bills, except for "money bills" which impose taxes or spend public money. Senate bills must also be passed in the House of Commons.

Canadian Parliament Buildings

The Canadian federal Parliament Buildings stand on a hill overlooking the Ottawa River in Canada's capital city Ottawa. The Parliament Buildings were opened just a year before Canadian Confederation, and their Gothic Revival architecture remains a dramatic and enduring symbol of Canadian heritage. The Parliament Buildings are also the workplace for Canadian members of parliament and senators.

Canadian Parliament Glossary

Not sure about the meaning of a term or phrase used about Parliament in Canada? Look it up here.

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