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Structure

The House of Commons, the elected part of the Parliament of Canada, is made up of 308 Members who are elected to represent the people in their ridings, also called electoral districts.


This table displays the number of ridings by province and the percentage of women candidates who ran in each of them in the 2004 federal election. For more details, check in More on this Issue, under Chief Electoral Officer of Canada, for the link to a database of current electoral districts.


CANDIDATES BY SEX AND PROVINCE IN THE 2004 FEDERAL ELECTION


  ProvinceRidingsRidings with Women Candidates% Ridings with Women CandidatesNumber of Women CandidatesNumber of Men Candidates% Candidates Women
  Newfoundland7457.172323.3
  PEI4375.051229.4
  Nova Scotia11763.6133925.0
  NB10550.083618.2
  Quebec756080.010434123.4
  Ontario1068176.413544023.5
  Manitoba141285.7186322.2
  Sask14750.0105814.7
  Alberta282175.02910621.5
  BC363391.75816526.0
  Territories33100.041028.6
  TOTAL30823676.63911,29423.2

These statistics were compiled by Andrew Heard, Associate Professor in the Political Science Department of Simon Fraser University. See More on this Issue under 'Statistics' for the link to his site.


At the federal level, the House of Commons alone is constitutionally authorized to introduce legislation related to the raising or spending of funds.

The Senate, also called the Upper House of the Canadian Parliament, consists usually of 105 Senators appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The Senate possesses all of the powers of the House of Commons except that of initiating financial legislation.


Our Constitution states that a Parliament cannot last longer than a period of five years, after which a general election must be held. These periods are numbered consecutively, which makes the one created after the election of 2004 the 38th Parliament of Canada.


Each Parliament sits during one or more sessions which begin with a Speech from the Throne outlining the Government's legislative plans for the session and ends when it is prorogued by the Governor General, at the request of the Prime Minister. A Parliament comes to an end when the Prime Minister asks the Governor General to dissolve it and call a general election.


The Constitution requires Parliament to meet at least once a year. In general, Parliament sits about 27 weeks a year, from September to June, with breaks to permit Parliamentarians to work in their regions or ridings, or travel on official business.


Each House meets regularly to deal with national issues and debate legislation. In addition, the Senate and the House of Commons have all-party committees that study bills and specific issues in detail.


Both Houses also have a daily Question Period during which time the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, and the Leader of the Government in the Senate, are held accountable for government policies and activities.




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