The parliamentary calendar outlines when the House can be expected to sit during a year. Sittings typically take place in the spring and occasionally the fall, with the House usually meeting Monday to Thursday. Detailed time schedules are described in Standing Orders 2 and 3. The parliamentary calendar also schedules non-sitting “constituency” weeks so that MLAs may return home to work in their ridings.
The House may be recalled during a planned period of adjournment to deal with urgent legislation or other matters of public business.
Prorogation ends a session, unlike recess (a temporary break from proceedings) or adjournment (which suspends a debate or a sitting during a session).
Dissolution of a parliament results in a provincial general election. Pursuant to the BC Constitution Act, a provincial general election is held on a set date every four years.
The opening, prorogation, and dissolution of the Legislative Assembly are all prerogatives of the Lieutenant Governor.
Opening Day and Throne Speech
Each new session of a parliament is formally opened with the reading of the Throne Speech that outlines the government's plans for the coming year. Written by the government of the day, the Throne Speech is read by the Lieutenant Governor (the Crown's representative) in the Chamber, where MLAs are assembled.
Throne Speech Debate
MLAs have up to six sitting days to debate the Throne Speech. This debate is called “Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne”, and often provides an opportunity for a new MLA to make an inaugural speech. Upon the conclusion of this debate, MLAs vote on a motion to support or oppose the Throne Speech.
On Budget Day, the Minister of Finance rises in the Legislative Assembly and tables the Estimates for the upcoming fiscal year, along with other financial documents. This is followed by the delivery of the Budget Speech. A new MLA may make an inaugural speech in the ensuing debate on the budget.
Election of Speaker
The election of the Speaker, conducted by secret ballot, is the first item of business at the opening of a new parliament. All MLAs participate in the selection of the Member to preside over Assembly business. Cabinet ministers are ineligible to seek election to the position of Speaker.
The Clerk of the House presides over the election of the Speaker. Pursuant to Standing Order 11, any Member who does not wish to be considered for the position must advise the Clerk in writing. If there is only one nomination, that Member is acclaimed Speaker.
Speaker Reid being escorted to the Chair, June 26, 2013