DID YOU KNOW?....
"...UPDATED May 22, 2018 10:02amET
Finance Minister Bill Morneau spends tonight fielding several hours worth of questions from MPs about his department’s spending estimates and priorities for the coming year.
Those Finance Canada estimates (the highest of any federal department or agency at nearly $94 billion — with $71 billion used for transfer payments) include several components of fiscal policy:
1 billions of dollars in health and social transfers to the provinces and territories
2 billions of dollars in equalization payments and other fiscal arrangements with the provinces and territories
3 debt management
Each fiscal year the Official Opposition chooses two departments for such a review in Committee of the Whole. They must be held by May 31.
Ministers or their parliamentary secretaries appear in the House of Commons chamber for up to four hours during such sessions.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen is scheduled for questions on Thursday night.
Quizzing the Ministers
The ministerial sessions stem from a standing order adopted by the House in 2001, allowing the Opposition to choose two federal departments or agencies for review by a Committee of the Whole.
According to House of Commons Procedure and Practice, the new custom would permit “a more meaningful examination of government estimates” and confirm “the financial oversight role of the House of Commons.”
The corresponding minister or parliamentary secretary sits in the front row of the government benches and prepares to act as a witness. Outsiders are almost never allowed to walk beyond the Bar of the House, but in this case a small number of department officials are permitted to sit near the minister to provide advice.
The first round of speakers begins with the Official Opposition, than the government, than the NDP.
Each MP has 15 minutes to speak and ask questions. There’s a five-minute minimum for the latter category.
MPs need unanimous consent to split their time with a colleague.
The minister’s response is expected to be equal to or less than the question’s time.
About Committees of the Whole
Committees of the Whole date back to the 1500s and the creation of the committee system in England’s Parliament. Major bills were debated in a less restrictive forum than formal proceedings of the House of Commons overseen by a Speaker. Canadian legislatures adopted the custom with little change until 1968, when the current system of standing committees was established.
Today, the House of Commons switches to this less formal setting on rare occasions. One notable example was the 2008 official apology to residential school victims. Sitting in a Committee of the Whole allowed First Nations representatives to sit on the floor of the Commons and deliver remarks after the prime minister and opposition leaders spoke.
The Speaker leaves their customary chair and moves to the Clerk’s seat at the main table on the Commons floor. MPs can speak more often than a normal House debate...."