Some Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) hold one or more parliamentary offices whether in the National Assembly or on a parliamentary committee:
Some MNAs also serve as members of the Office of the National Assembly.
See all MNAs holding a parliamentary or ministerial office
President and Vice-Presidents of the National Assembly
The President or Speaker has three main roles:
- chairing the sittings of the Assembly
- ensuring that MNAs observe the rules of procedure and that their parliamentary privileges are respected
- preserving the order and decorum required for the orderly conduct of business
- voting to break a tie
- receiving any comments, questions or statements the MNAs wish to voice in the House
- directing the administrative services of the Assembly
- representing the Assembly, especially in its relations with other parliaments
Once in office, the President no longer belongs to a parliamentary group. Given that neutrality is his or her first responsibility, the President shuns all partisan activities such as the party congress and caucus meetings.
The President of the National Assembly is fourth in order of precedence in Québec, behind the Lieutenant-Governor, the Premier and the cardinals.
Election of the President
The President of the Assembly is elected by all the MNAs by secret ballot.
The President is elected at the first sitting of a new Legislature and, unless he or she resigns or dies, remains in office until the next President is elected.
The Assembly cannot undertake any business until it has chosen a President.
The three Vice-Presidents sit in for the President, carrying out his or her parliamentary duties. One of them generally presides over the House during Orders of the Day and takes the chair when the House sits as a Committee of the Whole. The Vice-Presidents may also be entrusted with certain administrative files.
Barring resignation or death, a Vice-President remains in office until his or her successor is elected.
Election of Vice-Presidents
Once they have elected the President, the MNAs elect three Vice-Presidents.
The first two Vice-Presidents are elected from among the MNAs of the parliamentary group forming the Government and the third, from among the MNAs of the parliamentary group forming the Official Opposition.
Parliamentary Group Leaders
The leaders of the parliamentary groups head their respective groups in the House.
The leader of the parliamentary group with
- the most MNAs in the House becomes the Premier
- the second largest number of MNAs becomes Leader of the Official Opposition
- the third largest number of MNAs becomes the Leader of the Second Opposition Group
Ministers are MNAs chosen by the Premier to form the Cabinet. Each minister is responsible for a portfolio or sector of the Public Administration: finance, natural resources, public security, and so on.
The Premier generally chooses his or her ministers from among the MNAs in his or her parliamentary group. The Premier may appoint a minister who is not an MNA, but as long as the appointee is not elected to represent an electoral division, he or she may not sit in the House.
In the Assembly, ministers
- introduce and defend public bills on behalf of the Government
- answer MNAs’ questions
Ministers account for their administration during consideration of the estimates in committee.
Cabinet solidarity means that, once the Cabinet has made a decision, all the ministers are bound by it and must support it. That is why one minister may act or speak in the name of another, as sometimes happens during Question Period.
Current Cabinet members
House Leaders and Deputy House Leaders
The leader of each parliamentary group appoints a House leader who
- acts as the group’s main strategist and adviser as regards parliamentary procedure
- plans the group’s business in the House
- frames the strategies to be followed during Assembly sittings
- sees that the rights and privileges of every MNA in his or her parliamentary group are respected
The House leaders must be thoroughly familiar with both the rules of procedure and parliamentary custom.
The Government House Leader is a minister who serves as the intermediary between the Cabinet and the Assembly. He or she sets the order of business for the House. Under the Standing Orders of the Assembly, a number of procedures are the Government House Leader’s prerogative, including
- the motion to refer a bill to committee for clause-by-clause consideration
- the motion to adjourn the House, which closes a sitting
- the deferral of a recorded division
A deputy House leader may stand in for the Government House Leader or the Official Opposition House Leader during proceedings. A minister may stand in for the Government House Leader at any time.
Whips and Deputy Whips
The chief whips and deputy whips are in charge of party discipline, which explains the name “whip”. Among the MNAs of the party forming the Government, party discipline translates into parliamentary solidarity, meaning that they all support the main measures proposed by the Government. Party discipline is also observed among the parliamentary groups in opposition.
The chief whips and their deputies
- maintain order and a consistent, unified party line within the ranks of their parliamentary group
- make sure a sufficient number of MNAs attend Assembly and committee sittings, particularly when a vote is called
- make a list of the names of the MNAs who are to speak in various debates and make sure they are present
- distribute the workload and allocate support services among the MNAs (offices, secretarial services, research services, etc.)
- participate in the selection of the MNAs who are to be part of delegations representing the Assembly in its interparliamentary relations
The chief whip is designated by his or her peers or by the leader of the parliamentary group, and can be assisted by deputy whips. A parliamentary group is allowed one deputy whip for 40 or more MNAs, and two deputy whips for 60 or more.
Since January 1994, the chief government whip attends Cabinet meetings.
“Caucus” is a term used to refer to all the members from the same party who sit in the National Assembly. The government caucus includes the Cabinet. The caucus chair sets the agenda for and presides over caucus meetings. He or she makes sure all the items on the agenda are discussed within the time allocated for each.
The caucus chairs are chosen by the leaders of their respective parliamentary groups.
Like the chief government whip, the chair of the caucus of the party forming the Government attends Cabinet meetings.
A parliamentary assistant is an MNA appointed by the Premier to help a minister in his or her work. The parliamentary assistant may answer questions in the minister’s absence or acknowledge them in the minister’s name. The parliamentary assistant may also take over certain files or represent the minister at certain activities.
List of parliamentary assistants
The critics are MNAs from the parliamentary groups in opposition who are appointed by their leaders to present their party’s policy in a given area (such as health, education or the environment) and comment on the Government’s policy in that area, especially during
- Question Period
- debates upon adjournment
- debates on related bills, whether in the Assembly or in committee
- consideration of the budget estimates
The term “shadow cabinet” refers to the party critics of a parliamentary group in opposition.
List of critics
Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs
The role of the chair of a parliamentary committee is to organize and direct the proceedings of the committee.
Like the President of the Assembly, a committee chair enforces the Standing Orders and rules on points of procedure. A committee chair’s decision is final. This means an MNA who is not satisfied with a decision handed down by a committee chair cannot ask the Assembly to overturn the decision. The committee chair participates in committee deliberations and is entitled to vote.
The committee chair is assisted by a vice-chair, who may replace him or her when necessary. The vice-chair is from a different parliamentary group than the chair. Both participate in committee deliberations and are entitled to vote.
The committee chair and vice-chair
- are elected for a two-year term from among the MNAs on the committee
- are from the parliamentary group forming the Government and the parliamentary group forming the Official Opposition
The Committee on Public Administration is chaired by an MNA from the Official Opposition while the vice-chair is from the parliamentary group forming the Government. Under the Standing Orders, three other parliamentary committees must be chaired by an opposition MNA.
List of parliamentary committee chairs and vice-chairs
List of parliamentary committees
Temporary Committee Chairs
A temporary committee chair is an MNA appointed by the President of the Assembly to replace a committee chair on the chair’s request or when the Assembly so decides. A temporary committee chair does not take part in committee deliberations and is not entitled to vote, unless he or she is a member of the committee concerned.
A temporary chair replaces the chair of a committee when the vice-chair is unable to do so.
Each parliamentary group designates temporary committee chairs. The list is then approved by the Committee on the National Assembly.
List of temporary committee chairs