The Parliament is the federal legislative branch and legislative assemblies are based on the British model. It consists of the Senate (105 members appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister) and the House of Commons (308 members elected for a maximum of five years). Representation in both chambers is according to population in the provinces. General elections are held on the third Monday of October of the fourth calendar year after the previous poll. They can also be called by the prime minister if the government loses the confidence of the legislature. The last federal election was held in October 2015 and the next is expected for 2019, unless the Governor General dissolves Parliament earlier.
The law-making process starts with a bill, which can be introduced in the House of Commons (C-bills) or the Senate (S-bills). Public bills may be initiated by a minister (government bills) or private members. Private bills are founded on a petition signed by those interested in promoting it and introduced in either chamber. Bills that seem to be both public and private in nature are called hybrid bills. Bills to appropriate any part of the public revenue, such as tax or impost, shall originate in the House of commons (“money votes”). A bill goes through certain formal stages in each House. The stages include a series of three readings during which parliamentarians debate the bill. Prior to the third and final reading, each House also sends the bill to a committee where members examine the finer points of the legislation. Committee members hear witness testimony on the bill, and then subject it to a clause-by-clause study based on the testimony. Canada retains the Sovereign of the United Kingdom as its head of state. All laws are formally enacted by the Sovereign “by and with the advice and consent” of the Senate and House of Commons. Once both Houses have approved a bill, it is presented for Royal Assent and becomes law (named Act or Regulation).
The Constitution divides the legislative abilities between the federal and provincial governments. Provincial legislatures may pass laws relating to topics explicitly reserved for them by the Constitution.