Every Monday and Wednesday, beginning just after 1:30 pm and every Tuesday and Thursday, beginning just after 10:00 am, MLAs participate in Oral Question Period, commonly known as
Question Period, an intense 30 minute period of rapid fire questions and answers.
Beginning in 1973, Question Period has proven itself to be a point of interest for many British Columbians. The purpose of Question Period is to give opposition MLAs the opportunity to ask questions about what the government is doing and why it is doing it. This is one way that the
legislative branch can hold the
executive branch to account.
All MLAs have the right to ask for information from the
Cabinet and the right to hold Cabinet ministers responsible for their actions. At the same time, these questions give Cabinet ministers the opportunity to clarify or explain their actions to the public.
Any MLA can ask Cabinet ministers questions about their ministry’s activities (and the benefits of those activities for British Columbians) so long as the questions asked follow
certain rules. For example, questions must be both timely and relevant, and be addressed to the appropriate minister.
did you know?
B.C.'s system of government is
based on Great Britain's, which dates back more than 800 years. However, the practice of asking Cabinet ministers direct questions is a relatively new invention, dating back less than 300 years. The first recorded parliamentary question was asked in the British House of Lords in 1721, when the government of the day was asked to confirm the rumour that the chief cashier of the government-owned South Sea Company had fled the country and been arrested in Brussels. The Prime Minister confirmed the arrest, and the Lords moved to ask the King to order the culprit’s return to England.