COMPENDIUM OF PROCEDURE

Opposition motions have precedence over all Government Supply motions on Supply days (also called “allotted”
days). Members in opposition to the Government may propose motions for debate on any matter falling within the
jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada, as well as on committee reports concerning Estimates.
The Standing Orders give Members a very wide scope in proposing opposition motions on Supply days and, unless
the motion is clearly and undoubtedly irregular (i.e., where the procedural aspect is not open to reasonable argument),
the Speaker does not intervene.
All opposition motions are votable unless the sponsor of the motion designates it as non-votable.
Before an opposition motion can be debated on a Supply day, 48 hours’ written notice of the motion must be given.
A decision by the Government not to proceed with a designated allotted day does not result in the removal of the
notice of an opposition motion from the Order Paper. It can remain on the Order Paper until it is proceeded with
later or unless withdrawn by the sponsor. Only the sponsor can have it withdrawn, and the consent of the House is
not required to do so. A Member may put an opposition motion on notice even though an allotted day has not yet
been designated.
Speaker’s Power to Select
The Standing Orders are silent on the method of apportioning allotted days between the parties, when two or more
recognized parties form the opposition. Although the Government designates which days may be used for the
Business of Supply, the opposition parties decide among themselves which party will sponsor the motion and
whether or not, subject to the provisions of the Standing Orders, that motion will be brought to a vote.
The distribution reflects the proportion of seats each recognized party occupies in the Chamber. It is not the purview
of the Official Opposition to determine unilaterally who can propose a motion on an allotted day. When notice of two
or more opposition motions appears on the Order Paper for consideration on an allotted day and there is no
agreement among the opposition parties as to which shall be taken up, the Speaker must decide which motion shall
be given precedence. Generally, in making this decision, the Speaker will take into consideration the following:
    • representation of the parties in the House;
    • the allocation by party of opposition days to date;
    • fair play towards small parties;
    • the date of notice;
    • the sponsor of the motion;
    • the subject matter;
    • whether or not the motion is votable; and
    • what has happened, by agreement among the parties, in the immediate past Supply periods.

Designating an Allotted Day
Supply Periods
Order Paper and Notice Paper [Parliamentary Publications]

Find this and other articles on House of Commons procedure by visiting the Compendium of Procedure Web site at

For further information about the procedures of the House of Commons, please contact the Table Research Branch at
(613) 996-3611 or by e-mail at trbdrb@parl.gc.ca.
Modified: March 2006

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