On April 21, 2009, the National Assembly of Quebec completed an important exercise in parliamentary reform by adopting a series of amendments to its Standing Orders. While not a thoroughgoing overhaul of the Standing Orders and Rules for the Conduct of Proceedings, the reform does include major changes which are outlined in the following article.
Three sets of proposals for parliamentary reform have been tabled in recent years. In 2004, the President of the Assembly and the Government House Leader each put forward a set of proposals. In 2007, the new Government House Leader also proposed changes. All of these proposals contributed to the parliamentary reform process that led to the presentation of the new rules of procedure, regarding which there is now a consensus.
The Confidence Convention
A major change brought about by the parliamentary reform concerns the confidence of the Assembly in the Government. The reform has further defined the legislature's control over the executive by clearly stating in a comprehensive manner the circumstances in which the confidence of the Assembly in the Government may be called into question.
The principle of confidence arises from a constitutional convention whereby the Government must ensure that it enjoys the support of the Assembly at all times to continue to govern. Should this support cease to be maintained, the Government must resign or dissolve the Assembly. But if the Government is defeated on a particular motion, this does not necessarily mean that it has lost the confidence of the House, since not all votes call into question the confidence of …