Better know a Canadian institution: the Board of Internal Economy

If you’ve been paying attention to the news in Canada, you’d know that not too long ago, the federal NDP was told off for misallocating some funds by the “Board of Internal Economy”. Who are they? They sound scary! But they aren’t.

The Board of Internal Economy was created by Act of Parliament in 1868, and it governs the administrative regulation and fiduciary governance of the House of Commons. Unlike every other committee of Parliament, the Board continues to sit when Parliament is prorogued or dissolved.

The Speaker of the House of Commons is the chair of the Board, and the Clerk of the House is its secretary. Its membership is laid out by the Parliament of Canada Act.

There must be two Privy Councillors, which are usually the Chief Government Whip and the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. The Leader of the Opposition is entitled to sit on the Board, but that seat is usually delegated to the Opposition House Leader. There is then one member given to each “recognized” opposition party (meaning parties with more than 12 members), which usually goes to the party whip. (If there  was only one opposition party, it would get two members.) The government caucus then receives one member fewer than the total number of opposition members. Since there are currently two opposition parties, there is one sitting government caucus representative, who is currently Conservative MP Rob Merrifield, who represents Yellowhead, Alberta.

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