Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Parliamentary Secretary

In the Canadian Parliamentary system it is customary for the Prime Minister to appoint parliamentary secretaries from their caucus to assist cabinet ministers with their work.

The role of parliamentary secretaries has varied under different Prime Minsiters. Originally, the post was used as a training ground for future ministers.

Under Jean Chretien parliamentary secretaries were set to two-year terms and the post was used as a reward for weary backbenchers. The only real duty of parliamentary secretaries was to answer questions and table reports on behalf of ministers when they were unable to be present in the house.

Prime Minister Paul Martin, when sworn-in in 2003, promised a new role for parliamentary secretaries. They would now be sworn into the privy council giving them access to secret documents, be allowed to attend cabinet meetings and be assigned specific files by ministers. This replaced the positions of Secretaries of State which had been in practice under Chretien.