Parliament Of Canada
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
As in the case of Great Britain, the Parliament is composed of two houses, the upper house, or Senate, and the lower house or House of Commons. Two houses always formed part of the provincial legislature from 1791 to 1867, when Ontario decided to confine her house of legislature to an elected assembly under the Lieutenant-Governor. In 1867 under the British North America Act the maritime provinces, Ontario and Quebec, were each given an equal representation of twenty-four Senators. Since that time the entrance of other provinces into the Federation has increased the number of Senators to seventy-eight. The maximum allowed by law is eighty-four in all, including the constitutional provision allowing an addition of three or six new members to meet the case of a deadlock in political matters.
Senators are appointed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of his Privy Council. They must be not less than thirty years of age and possess real or personal property of not less than 4,000 dollars beyond their liabilities. Subject to these provisions the Senator holds his place for life, though he may resign his place in the Senate. If any question should arise with regard to the qualifications of the Senator the matter is heard and determined by the Senate itself.
Fifteen Senators, including the Speaker, constitute a quorum, and questions before the Senate are decided by a majority of voices, the Speaker in all cases having a vote, and if the voices are equal the decision is deemed to be in the negative.
The Speaker, or President of the House is appointed by the Governor-General in council. Like the British House of Lords the Senate possesses the same powers of introducing bills as the House of Commons, except with regard to money bills, measures imposing taxes, or spending public money received from the people.
All such measures originate in the Lower House and the Senate cannot amend them. Those Senators appointed for the province of Quebec must live in the divisions which they represent, or have their property qualifications therein, but in the case of other provinces it is only necessary the members should reside within their province. Bankruptcy, absence during two sessions, crime, or naturalisation in another country debars a Senator from the privileges of the House.
The House of Commons, as the direct representatives of the people, is naturally the ruling house of Canada : the Ministry is largely chosen from it, and without its support and confidence no ministry can exist.
For some years after 1867 the number of members amounted to 215, but in 1903 (after the census of 1901) the representation was arranged as follows :
After every decennial census (the last was taken in 1901) the representation is readjusted, in accordance with the movement of the population. The province of Quebec must always have a fixed number of sixty-five members, and each of the other provinces is assigned such a number of members as to bear the same proportion to its population as the number sixty-five bears to the population of Quebec.
In the terms of Union it is provided that British Columbia shall not have her representatives reduced below six.