Throne Speech launches new session of Parliament

Ottawa, Ontario
30 December 2009

Each new session of Parliament begins with a Speech from the Throne.  A typical Parliament is composed of several sessions and therefore includes several Throne Speeches.  On average there are three to four Throne Speeches per Parliament, although some Parliaments have heard as many as six or seven Throne Speeches.

The call for a new session and a new Throne Speech is made by the Governor General, on the advice of the Prime Minister, either by issuing a proclamation published in the Canada Gazette or by means of a special ceremony in the Senate Chamber.

The decision to launch a new Throne Speech within the same Parliament is routine, having occurred 104 times before.

Until the new session, the Speaker, the Prime Minister, Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries remain in office and all Members of the House of Commons retain their full rights and privileges.

The call for a new session does not remove the requirements in Orders or Addresses of the House for the tabling of government reports.  Similarly, the Government’s obligation to respond to committee reports and petitions survives from one session to another.

Comparative History of Canadian Parliaments since Confederation[1]

Number of Throne Speeches per Parliament
Average of Previous Parliaments:  3.6 Throne Speeches
40th Parliament:  at least 3 (3rd Throne Speech to be delivered March 3, 2010)

Duration of Sessions (Days)
Average:  211 days[2]
40th Parliament, 2nd Session:  338 days

Duration of Sessions (Sittings)
Average:  109 House of Commons sittings[3]
40th Parliament, 2nd Session:  128 House sittings

Interval between Sessions of Same Parliament
Average:  151 days
40th Parliament:  63 days until new session

[1] Historic averages up to and including 1st Session of 40th Parliament.
[2] Excludes sessions ending in an election call.
[3] Excludes sessions ending in an election call.