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House of Commons of Canada

Background Color#297342
Text Colorwhite
NameHouse of Commons of Canada
Chambre des communes du Canada
Legislature41st Parliament
Coa PicHOC Canada.jpg
House TypeLower House
Leader1 TypeSpeaker
Leader1Andrew Scheer
Election12 June 2011
Leader2 TypeGovernment
House Leader
Leader2Peter Van Loan
Election218 May 2011
Leader3 TypeOpposition
House Leader
Leader3Thomas Mulcair
Election326 May 2011
Structure141st Can House.svg
Structure1 Res260px
Structure1 AltCurrent Structure of the House of Commons
Political Groups1 
Voting System1Plurality by constituency
Last Election12 May 2011
Session Roomparliament2.jpg
Session Res260px
Session AltThe House of Commons sits in the Centre Block in Ottawa
Meeting PlaceCentre Block
Parliament Hill
Ottawa, Ontario

     Home | Legislature | House of Commons of Canada

The House of Commons of Canada ( ) is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the Sovereign (represented by the Governor General) and the Senate. The House of Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 308 members known as Members of Parliament (MPs). Members are elected by simple plurality ('first-past-the-post' system) in each of the country's electoral districts, which are colloquially known as ridings. MPs may hold office until Parliament is dissolved and serve for constitutionally limited terms of up to five years after an election. Historically however, terms have ended before their expiry and the sitting government has typically dissolved parliament within four years of an election according to a long-standing convention. Notwithstanding this, an Act of Parliament now limits each term to four years. Seats in the House of Commons are distributed roughly in proportion to the population of each province and territory. However, some ridings are more populous than others and the Canadian constitution contains some special provisions regarding provincial representation; thus, there is some interprovincial and regional malapportionment based on population.

The House of Commons was established in 1867, when the Constitution Act, 1867, formerly the BNA Act (British North America Act), created the Dominion of Canada, and was modelled on the British House of Commons. The lower of the two houses making up the parliament, the House of Commons in practice holds far more power than the upper house, the Senate. Although the approval of both Houses is necessary for legislation, the Senate very rarely rejects bills passed by the Commons (though the Senate does occasionally amend bills). Moreover, the Government of Canada is responsible solely to the House of Commons. The Prime Minister stays in office only as long as he or she retains the support, or "confidence", of the lower house.

It is widely thought that "Commons" is a shortening of the word "commoners". However, the term derives from the Anglo-Norman word communes, referring to the geographic and collective "communities" of their parliamentary representatives and not the third estate, the commonality. This distinction is made clear in the official French name of the body, Chambre des communes. Canada and the United Kingdom remain the only countries to use the name "House of Commons" for a lower house of parliament.

The Canadian House of Commons chamber is located in the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Ontario.

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