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Democracy in the Classroom: A Parliamentary Committee Simulation


Amend To change or improve something: for example, a piece of legislation.
Amendment  A change proposed to a motion, a bill or committee report with the intention of improving it or providing an alternative.
Bill  A proposal for a law that is to be considered by Parliament.
Caucus  A group composed of senators and members of Parliament from the same political party.  Private caucus meetings are held regularly.
Chair The role of the chair in committee is to preside over meetings, guide deliberations and seek to maintain order and decorum.
Clause-by-clause An in-depth examination of a bill. Committee members may debate, amend, and vote on each clause in a bill.
Committee clerk  The committee clerk acts as the chief administrative, procedural and information officer for committees. This person serves as an advisor on parliamentary procedure.
Constituency  The specific geographic area represented by a member of Parliament. Also known as an electoral district or riding.
Debate  A discussion in which the arguments for and against a subject are presented according to specific rules.
Electoral District The specific geographic area represented by a member of Parliament. Also known as a constituency or riding.
Government  The party with the most elected members in the House of Commons usually forms the Government. Within the federal government, the prime minister and the cabinet determine priorities and policies, ensure their implementation and guide the Government’s legislation through the House of Commons.
House of Commons The elected lower house of Parliament is composed of 338 members representing ridings across Canada.
House of Commons committee A committee comprised of both government and opposition members of Parliament.
Interest groups Groups of businesses, associations and people with a common interest who lobby the government to promote that interest.
Joint committee A committee made up of a proportionate number of members of both the House of Commons and the Senate.  It may be either a standing joint committee or a special joint committee.
Legislation  The acts passed by Parliament which make up the law.
Legislative process The process by which bills are approved by Parliament and become laws. A bill goes through three readings and is studied by a committee in both the House of Commons and the Senate. After approval by both Houses, it receives royal assent and becomes law.
Lobbyist  Lobbyists are individuals and groups who actively communicate with federal public office holders in an attempt to influence Government decisions.
Member of Parliament A term commonly used to refer to a person who is elected to the House of Commons.
Minister  A person who is appointed, on the recommendation of the prime minister, to the cabinet.
Monarch Canada is a constitutional monarchy, and our Head of State is the Monarch. All federal laws are enacted in the Monarch’s name. The Monarch’spowers are exercised in Canada by the Governor General.
Opposition  The party or parties and independent members who do not belong to the governing party. The role of the opposition is to provide knowledgeable criticism of the Government and propose ways for it to improve its policies and legislation. The Official Opposition is normally the party that holds the second highest number of seats in the House of Commons.
Parliamentarian A senator or member of the House of Commons.
Report  A written or verbal statement by a committee to the Senate or the House of Commons giving the results of an inquiry, asking for additional powers, or returning a bill after consideration, with or without amendments.
Report stage A step in the passage of a bill when the Senate or the House of Commons consider the report of the committee that has studied a bill, and when amendments to the text of the bill may be proposed.
Riding The specific geographic area represented by a member of Parliament. Also known as a constituency or electoral district.
Royal assent The last stage of the legislative process, given by the Governor General or his or her deputy.
Senate  The upper house of Parliament, composed of 105 senators.  They examine and revise legislation, investigate national issues, and represent regional, provincial and minority interests.
Senator  A person appointed to the upper house of Parliament by the Governor General, on the advice of the prime minister. 
Special committee A committee of members of Parliament or of senators appointed to study a specific matter. Once it has presented its final report, the committee ceases to exist.
Standing committee A permanent committee of the Senate or House of Commons that studies matters requested by its respective House or undertakes studies on its own initiative.
Witnesses  Canadians who appear as individuals, or as representatives of  associations and organizations, to make presentations to committees. Standing committees have the power to summon witnesses to appear.

Additional Library of Parliament Glossaries

Parliamentary terms for younger students - Grades 4 to 6 (Primary cycles 2 and 3 in Quebec)

Parliamentary terms for intermediate students - Grades 7 to 10 (Secondary cycles 1 and 2 in Quebec)