40th Canadian Parliament

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40th Parliament of Canada
Minority parliament
18 November 2008 – 26 March 2011
Parliament leaders
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
February 6, 2006 – November 4, 2015
Cabinet28th Canadian Ministry
Leader of the
Hon. Stéphane Dion
December 2, 2006 – December 10, 2008
Hon. Michael Ignatieff
December 10, 2008 – May 2, 2011
Party caucuses
GovernmentConservative Party
OppositionLiberal Party
RecognizedBloc Québécois
New Democratic Party
UnrecognizedProgressive Conservative*
* Only in the Senate.
House of Commons

Seating arrangements of the House of Commons
Speaker of the
Hon. Peter Milliken
January 29, 2001 – June 2, 2011
House Leader
Hon. Jay Hill
October 3, 2008 – August 6, 2010
Hon. John Baird
August 6, 2010 – May 2, 2011
House Leader
Hon. Ralph Goodale
February 10, 2006 – September 10, 2010
David McGuinty
September 10, 2010 – May 26, 2011
Members308 seats MP seats
List of members

Seating arrangements of the Senate
Speaker of the
Hon. Noël A. Kinsella
February 8, 2006 – November 26, 2014
Senate Leader
Hon. Marjory LeBreton
February 6, 2006 - July 14, 2013
Senate Leader
Hon. Jim Cowan
November 3, 2008 – November 5, 2015
Senators105 seats senator seats
List of senators
MonarchElizabeth II
February 6, 1952 – 8 September 2022
Rt. Hon. Michaëlle Jean
September 27, 2005 – October 1, 2010
Rt. Hon. David Johnston
October 1, 2010 – October 2, 2017
1st session
November 18, 2008 – December 4, 2008
2nd session
January 26, 2009 – December 30, 2009
3rd session
March 3, 2010 – March 26, 2011
← 39th → 41st

The 40th Canadian Parliament was in session from November 18, 2008 to March 26, 2011. It was the last Parliament of the longest-running minority government in Canadian history that began with the previous Parliament. The membership of its House of Commons was determined by the results of the 2008 federal election held on October 14, 2008. Its first session was then prorogued by the Governor General on December 4, 2008, at the request of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who was facing a likely no-confidence motion and a coalition agreement between the Liberal party and the New Democratic Party with the support of the Bloc Québécois (2008–2009 Canadian parliamentary dispute). Of the 308 MPs elected at the October 14, 2008 general election, 64 were new to Parliament and three sat in Parliaments previous to the 39th: John Duncan, Jack Harris and Roger Pomerleau.

There were three sessions of the 40th Parliament. On March 25, 2011, the House of Commons passed a Liberal motion of non-confidence by a vote of 156 to 145, finding the Conservative Cabinet in contempt of parliament, an unprecedented finding in Canadian and Commonwealth parliamentary history.[1] On March 26, 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper subsequently asked Governor General David Johnston to dissolve parliament and issue a writ of election.[2]

Party standings[edit]

The party standings as of the election, and at dissolution, were as follows:

Standings in the 40th Canadian Parliament
Affiliation House members Senate members
2008 election
At dissolution On election
day 2008[4]
At dissolution
Conservative 143 143 21 52
Liberal 77 77 58 46
Bloc Québécois 49 47 0 0
New Democratic 37 36 0 0
Independent 2[5] 1[6] 5[7] 2[8]
Senate Progressive Conservative Caucus 0 0 3[9] 2[10]
Independent Conservative 0 1[11] 0 0
Independent Liberal 0 0 1[12] 0
Independent New Democrat 0 0 1[13] 0
Total members 308 305 89 102
Vacant 0 3 16 3
Total seats 308 105

Resignations and by-elections[edit]

NDP MP Dawn Black resigned her seat of New Westminster—Coquitlam effective April 13, 2009, to run (successfully) in the provincial riding of New Westminster in the 2009 British Columbia general election.[14] The NDP's Fin Donnelly won the seat left vacant by Black in a by-election on November 9, 2009.[15]

Independent MP Bill Casey resigned his seat of Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley effective April 30, 2009, to accept a job as the Nova Scotia Department of Intergovernmental Affairs' senior representative in Ottawa. He was a former Conservative who voted against the 2007 budget, claiming that it broke the Atlantic Accord with his province and Newfoundland and Labrador, and was subsequently expelled from the Conservative caucus.[16] Scott Armstrong, the Conservative candidate, won the by-election for this seat on November 9, 2009.[15]

Bloc Québécois MP Paul Crête resigned his seat of Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup on May 21, 2009, to run in a provincial by-election in Rivière-du-Loup. Conservative Bernard Généreux won the November 9, 2009 by-election for this seat.[15]

Bloc Québécois MP Réal Ménard resigned his seat of Hochelaga on September 16, 2009, to run in Montreal's municipal elections.[17] On November 9, 2009, Daniel Paillé won this seat for the Bloc in a by-election.[15]

New Democratic Party MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North) resigned from the House on April 30, 2010, to run (unsuccessfully) for the mayoralty of Winnipeg.[18] Liberal Kevin Lamoureux won the by-election to replace her on November 29, 2010.[19]

Liberal MP Maurizio Bevilacqua (Vaughan) resigned from the House effective August 25, 2010 to successfully run for mayor in Vaughan.[20] Conservative Julian Fantino won the November 29, 2010 by-election to replace him.[19]

Conservative MP Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette) resigned from the House effective September 15, 2010 to run for mayor in Dauphin.[21] Robert Sopuck held the seat for the Conservatives in a by-election held on November 29, 2010.[19]

Bloc Québécois MP Jean-Yves Roy resigned from the House effective October 22, 2010,[22] followed by Conservative MP Jay Hill effective October 25, 2010.[23] Conservative MP Jim Prentice resigned from the House effective November 14, 2010 to take a position with CIBC.[24] By-elections in these three ridings were not scheduled prior to the issue of the writ for the 41st general election.

1st session and prorogation[edit]

The first session of the 40th parliament opened on November 18, 2008, after Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives won a slightly stronger minority government in the 2008 election. With a new government in session, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled a fiscal update nine days later. Among other things, the update cut government spending, suspended the ability of civil servants to strike, sold off some Crown assets, and eliminated existing political party subsidies. This fiscal update was rejected by the opposition, and became a catalyst for talks of a coalition government. Stéphane Dion of the Liberal Party and Jack Layton of the New Democratic Party, signed an accord stating that in the event that the government lost the confidence of the house, they would form a coalition with the support of Gilles Duceppe and the Bloc Québécois, if asked to do so by the Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean. However, Stephen Harper delayed the vote of non-confidence scheduled for December 1, and the Governor General prorogued parliament on Harper's advice on December 4, 2008, until January 26, 2009.

After prorogation, calls came from within the Liberal Party for Dion to resign immediately. Dion initially scheduled his resignation for the party's leadership convention in May 2009, but on December 8, 2008, he announced that he would step down upon the selection of an interim leader. After the withdrawal of Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc from the 2009 leadership race, Michael Ignatieff became the only leadership candidate, and therefore was appointed interim leader of the Liberals and the opposition on December 10, 2008.

2nd session and prorogation[edit]

The Governor-in-Council recalled parliament on January 26, 2009. Its first business (after the Throne Speech) was to present the federal budget, which included a large deficit. After negotiations with new opposition leader Michael Ignatieff, the government promised to present regular updates on the stimulus budget, and the Liberals and Conservatives joined to pass the budget and keep the Conservative government in power. The Conservative government made crime a major focus of the session. The Conservatives reintroduced their former mandatory minimums bill, known as Bill C-15.[25]

Protest on Parliament Hill in Ottawa against the prorogation
March in Vancouver against the prorogation

On December 30, 2009, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that he would advise the Governor General to prorogue parliament during the 2010 Winter Olympics, until March 3, 2010. He telephoned Governor General Michaëlle Jean to ask her permission to end the parliamentary session and Jean signed the proclamation later that day.[26][27] According to Harper's spokesman, he sought his second prorogation to consult with Canadians about the economy.[26] In an interview with CBC News, Prince Edward Island Liberal member of parliament Wayne Easter accused the Prime Minister of "shutting democracy down".[28][29] The second prorogation in a year also received some international criticism as being not very democratic.[30]

In response to the prorogation, demonstrations took place on January 23, 2010, in over 60 Canadian cities, and at least four cities in other countries. The protests attracted thousands of participants, many who had joined a group on Facebook.[31][32]

Senate appointments[edit]

The Senate of Canada has seen new members appointed in blocs of 18, 9, and 5; all were appointed to the Conservative caucus. The balance of power shifted for the first time on August 27, 2009, when the Liberal caucus was reduced to holding a plurality of 52 seats. On January 29, 2010, the balance shifted again as five vacancies were filled by appointed Conservatives, giving them a plurality of 51, with the Liberals holding the next-highest number of seats at 49. The Conservatives achieved an absolute majority when Don Meredith and Larry Smith were appointed on December 20, 2010. After dissolution, Smith and Fabian Manning resigned to run in the 2011 election. That reduced the Conservative caucus to 52, but they retained a majority of sitting senators as there were 50 senators of other parties and 3 vacancies.

Honorary senators[edit]

The Senate of Canada posthumously awarded the title of Honorary Senator during the 40th Parliament to five pioneering women known as The Famous Five.[33]

Emily Murphy
Henrietta Muir Edwards
Nellie McClung
Irene Parlby
Louise McKinney





Joint committees[edit]



Other chair occupants[edit]


House of Commons


Floor leaders[edit]


House of Commons



House of Commons

Shadow cabinets[edit]


By-election Date Incumbent Party Winner Party Cause Retained
Vaughan November 29, 2010 Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Julian Fantino Conservative Resigned to run for Mayor of Vaughan No
Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette November 29, 2010 Inky Mark Conservative Robert Sopuck Conservative Resigned to run for Mayor of Dauphin Yes
Winnipeg North November 29, 2010 Judy Wasylycia-Leis New Democratic Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Resigned to run for Mayor of Winnipeg No
Cumberland—Colchester—Musquodoboit Valley November 9, 2009 Bill Casey Independent Scott Armstrong Conservative Resigned to accept appointment with Nova Scotia's Department of Intergovernmental Affairs No
Hochelaga November 9, 2009 Réal Ménard Bloc Québécois Daniel Paillé Bloc Québécois Resigned to run for Montreal City Council Yes
Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup November 9, 2009 Paul Crête Bloc Québécois Bernard Généreux Conservative Resigned to enter provincial politics No
New Westminster—Coquitlam November 9, 2009 Dawn Black New Democratic Fin Donnelly New Democratic Resigned to enter provincial politics Yes


  1. ^ Bruce Cheadle (March 25, 2011). "Harper government topples on contempt motion, triggering May election". The Canadian Press; CTV news. Retrieved March 26, 2011.
  2. ^ CBC News (March 25, 2011). "MPs gather for historic vote". CBC. Archived from the original on March 28, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
  3. ^ "Canada Votes 2008 - Overall Results". CBC News.
  4. ^ Members of the Canadian Senate are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister and remain as senators until the age of 75, even if the House of Commons has been dissolved or an election has been called.
  5. ^ André Arthur and Bill Casey.
  6. ^ André Arthur
  7. ^ Anne Cools, Michael Pitfield, Marcel Prud'homme, Jean-Claude Rivest, Mira Spivak.
  8. ^ Anne Cools, Jean-Claude Rivest.
  9. ^ Elaine McCoy, Lowell Murray, Norman Atkins
  10. ^ Elaine McCoy, Lowell Murray
  11. ^ Helena GuergisCBC News (April 9, 2010). "Guergis to sit outside Tory caucus". CBC. Archived from the original on April 11, 2010. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
  12. ^ Raymond Lavigne sat as a Liberal, but was not officially part of the Liberal caucus.
  13. ^ Lillian Dyck.
  14. ^ "NDP MP to seek provincial seat in B.C.". cbc.ca, March 7, 2009.
  15. ^ a b c d "Conservatives win 2 byelections, 1 at Bloc's expense". cbc.ca, November 10, 2009.
  16. ^ Tory MP ejected from caucus after budget vote, CBC.ca, June 5, 2007.
  17. ^ "Bloc MP runs for municipal politics". CTV News, June 25, 2009.
  18. ^ "NDP's Judy Wasylycia-Leis calls it quits". The Globe and Mail, April 27, 2010.
  19. ^ a b c "Fantino wins Vaughan for Tories; Liberals take Manitoba by-election". The Globe and Mail, November 30, 2010.
  20. ^ "Maurizio Bevilacqua moves closer to Vaughan mayor's seat". The National Post, August 25, 2010.
  21. ^ "Inky hopes to make a Mark as mayor again". Winnipeg Free Press, August 17, 2010.
  22. ^ "Jean-Yves Roy quitte la politique". Radio-Canada, October 22, 2010.
  23. ^ "Hill set to resign on Oct. 25: CP". Prince George Citizen, October 4, 2010.
  24. ^ "Prentice resigns seat; earliest byelection Jan. 3. Calgary Herald, November 17, 2010. p. A4
  25. ^ "House Government Bill - C-15, First Reading (40-2)". Retrieved December 25, 2016.
  26. ^ a b CBC News (December 31, 2009). "PM shuts down Parliament until March". CBC. Retrieved December 31, 2009.
  27. ^ Richard J. Brennan (January 2, 2010). "Critics say anger is growing over PM's 'imperial' style". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on January 5, 2010. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  28. ^ POV, CBC News (December 30, 2009). "Parliament prorogued: Necessary move or undemocratic?". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on January 2, 2010. Retrieved July 5, 2012.
  29. ^ "PM 'shutting democracy down', says Easter". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. December 31, 2009. Archived from the original on January 3, 2010. Retrieved January 1, 2010.
  30. ^ "Harper goes prorogue". The Economist. January 7, 2010. Retrieved December 25, 2016.
  31. ^ "Thousands protest Parliament's suspension". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. January 23, 2010. Archived from the original on January 26, 2010. Retrieved January 24, 2010.
  32. ^ Delacourt, Susan; Richard J. Brennan (January 5, 2010). "Grassroots fury greets shuttered Parliament". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on January 8, 2010. Retrieved January 20, 2010.
  33. ^ "'Famous 5' named honorary senators". CBC News. October 10, 2009.
  34. ^ "House of Commons Committees - PROC - ARCHIVE (40-1)". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
  35. ^ "House of Commons Committees - PROC (40-1)". Parliament of Canada. Retrieved March 27, 2012.
  36. ^ "Senate Committees Homepage". Retrieved December 25, 2016.

External links[edit]

Media related to Protests against the prorogation of the 40th Parliament of Canada at Wikimedia Commons