La procédure parlementaire
du Québec, Pierre
Duchesne, ed., Quebec National Assembly, 2000, p. 493.
The year 2000 has been a bumper
year for books on parliamentary procedure. House of Commons Procedure
and Practice came out in February, and now the National Assembly has
released its own publication, La procédure parlementaire du Québec.
Is this a sign that the next millennium will be the era of parliamentary
Edited by Pierre Duchesne, La
procédure parlementaire du Québec is a 500-page guide to the procedures and
traditions of the Quebec National Assembly. The authors made concision
their goal: they simply offer a practical description of National Assembly
customs without going into detail about every rule. The idea was not to
produce a “history” of the National Assembly, and although some of the notes
give the authors an opportunity to provide historical perspective, there are no
extensive theoretical discussions of the origin or rationale for rules and
practices. However, what makes this book interesting is that it appeals
to readers of every stripe: from members of the legislature to parliamentary
assistants to anyone who wants to find out more about National Assembly rules
or to compare those rules with the rules governing other legislatures.
The book is divided into
fourteen chapters and two appendixes (Rules of the National Assembly, and Rules
of Procedure). It also includes an index and a short bibliography of
works dealing with procedure. The writing is clear, and the fact that the
book is divided into small sections makes it fairly easy to search and read.
Footnotes are used sparingly, which is unfortunate because they do
enhance the text. Each chapter opens with a short summary of the main
points covered in that chapter.
Apart from a few chapters on the
role of the Speaker and parliamentary procedure, La procédure parlementaire
du Québec devotes equal coverage to practices and the parliamentary
process. Some chapters deal with procedures (order and decorum, the
decision-making process, unanimous consent, etc.), while others describe the
day-to-day workings of the legislature (how sessions work, routine business,
budget allocations, etc.).
For those making their first
foray into the world of the National Assembly, the book is worthwhile for its
terminology alone. We are in familiar territory most of the time, but the
National Assembly has over the years adopted new equivalents for many
parliamentary terms that have British roots. For example, the rest of
Canada uses the French terms “première lecture”, “deuxième lecture” and
“troisième lecture” to mean first, second and third reading, but Quebec uses
the terms “présentation”, “adoption du principe” and “adoption de projets de
loi”. Committees are referred to as “commissions”, not “comités”, and the
French equivalent of notice is “préavis”, not “avis”.
As far as content goes, it is
hard to summarize a book that covers every aspect of parliamentary practice and
procedures. The information is up to date, relevant and well presented,
and the entire book can be read the way it might be used by those who, day in
and day out, have to interpret the rules and find precedents.
House of Commons