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GOVINFO: Canadian Parliamentary (Legislative) Publications

This guide focusses on a particular type of government document produced by the federal Government of Canada, the Parliamentary Papers.



The Questions

    • Asked during Question Period
    • No formal notice is required for oral questions, although some MPs inform the Minister of the questions they intend to ask, as a courtesyThese are questions are asked during Question Period.

The Responses

    • Answered, deferred, explained as to why cannot be answered at that time or nothing said during Question Period
    • If MP asking is not satisfied with the answer they receive, they can ask the question again during the Adjournment Proceedings, known as the Late Show, at the the end of the sitting day, Monday to Thursday
    • Found in the Debates

WRITTEN QUESTIONS (sometimes called Order Paper Questions)

The Questions

    • Formal notice of 48 hours is needed in advance
    • Question will appear on the Order Paper (agenda)
    • Numbered Q-1, Q-2, etc. on the Order Paper.  If oral response is needed the number includes an asterisk (*) to indicate this, eg.Q-1*,  These are sometimes referred to as "starred questions".

The Responses

Oral Response 

    • Response provided during Routine Proceedings under "Questions on the Order Paper".  Published in the Debates.
    • MP asking the question can indicate that they intend to raise the subject matter of an unanswered written question during the Adjournment Proceedings (late Show) at the end of the day.  Published in the Debates.  
    • If no response is received within 45 days, the question is referred to a Standing Committee chosen my the MP asking the question.  The Standing Committee considers the reasons for the lack of a government response.

Written Response

    • If response is lengthy and complex and requires information from a number of government departments, it may be transferred to become an "order for return".  This needs the consent of the House.  The Order for Return is tabled in the House and the response becomes a sessional paper available for public scrutiny.  Not printed in the Debates.  

Where To Find Questions and Responses

 The Order Paper and Notice Paper are published together every day when the House is sitting.  This practice began on October 27, 1969.  Prior to this, the Order Paper was a separate publication and the Notices were appended to the Votes and Proceedings.

Order Paper  = official agenda of the House 

  • lists all items that may be brought forward that day
  • Order of Business
    • Tabling of Documents
    • Introduction of Government Bills
    • Statements by Ministers
    • Presenting Reports from Interparliamentary Delegations
    • Presenting Reports from Committees
    • Introduction of Private Members' Bills
    • First Reading of Senate Public Bills
    • Motions
    • Presenting Petitions
    • Questions on the Order Paper
    • Government Orders
    • Statements by Members
    • Oral Questions
    • Government Orders
    • Private Members' Business
    • Government Orders
  • Orders of the Day
    • Government Orders
      • Business of Supply
      • Opposition Motions
      • Ways and Means
      • Government Bills (Commons)
      • Government Bills (Senate)
    • Government Business
  • Private Members' Business
    • Deferred Recorded Divisions
    • Rescheduled Business
    • Government Orders
    • Private Members' Business
  • Private Members' Business (Items outside the Order of Precedence)
  • Private Members' Business (List for the Consideration of Private Members' Business)
  • Questions 
  • Notices of Motions

Notice Paper

  • items for which notice has been given
    • secure electronic notice or written and signed notice are sent to the Clerk of the House 
    • notice is put on the Notice Paper and distributed the next day
    • notice is then printed and transferred (usually 48 hours) from the Notice Paper to the Order Paper given on a particular day is printed that day