The Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, our province’s parliament, plays a vital role in our lives. We are all bound by the laws passed by the members of the Assembly and there is no higher authority that is able to amend a statute. In essence, government power must be exercised through the Legislative Assembly and all laws must be introduced in the Assembly by a member elected by the people.
We have an important role to play in our province's development: indeed, it is our democratic right to elect a new Legislative Assembly at least every five years. We can all benefit from a better understanding of the relevance of parliamentary process to our society.
When the Assembly Meets
Unless there is an election scheduled, the Assembly’s parliamentary calendar is made up of two legislative phases every year: a 6-week fall period beginning in October, and a 10-week spring period starting in March. In election years, the first session begins at the government’s discretion.
During the legislative session, the Legislative Assembly meets on Monday and Tuesday from 1:30 to 10:30 p.m. (with a recess from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.), on Wednesday from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m., and on Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. You can watch the Assembly’s proceedings live on television and online, and they are also archived.
What Happens in the Assembly
A session of the legislature is opened by the reading of the Speech from the Throne by the Lieutenant Governor, who is the Queen’s representative in Saskatchewan. The Throne Speech is prepared by the government and outlines its legislative agenda for the upcoming session. It is the subject of a significant debate.
The debates of the Assembly and its committees are guided by general parliamentary practice and by formal rules. The Assembly follows a daily order of business, which begins with routine proceedings. This period takes place every day and includes question period and introduction of Bills. Routine proceedings are usually followed by government orders, during which government business is conducted, including debate on all public Bills. On Thursdays, routine proceedings are followed by private members' business, which is a forum for private members to introduce and debate issues of their own choosing.
Debate in the Legislative Assembly must be initiated by a member moving a motion. Motions are proposals made to elicit a decision of the Assembly and must be decided in the affirmative or negative. At the conclusion of a debate, when no further members wish to speak to a motion or when the allotted time has elapsed, the Speaker asks members to vote. The decision of the Assembly is gauged after listening for the "yeas" and "nays". On occasion members will ask for a formal recorded division, which requires each member's vote to be recorded by the Clerk in the Assembly's minutes. A simple majority is required for a motion to be passed.
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