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What is a Motion?

A motion asks the Legislative Assembly "to urge the government" to take some kind of action. The request may be minor, like setting the date that the Assembly will adjourn, or significant, perhaps asking the Assembly to approve an amendment to the Constitution. By debating motions, members can put critical issues in the limelight.

The major difference between motions and Bills is their effect if they are passed. If the Assembly passes a Bill, it becomes a provincial law. Passing a motion, however, shows only that the Assembly agrees that the government should take certain action. The government does not have to take the action that the Assembly asks for in the motion, although technically it could be held in contempt of the Assembly for not doing so.

Any Member of the Legislative Assembly (except the Speaker) may move a motion. A motion by a cabinet minister is a government motion and will almost certainly pass because it will have the support of the party in office. If a private member moves a motion, it will pass if it has the support of a majority of members in the Assembly. Unlike private members' Bills, which infrequently pass, private members' motions sometimes win majority support.

Several different types of motions come up in our Legislative Assembly, including Government Motions, Private Members' Motions and Motions for Return.


Reproduced from the Teacher's Guide to the Alberta Legislature, 1993 with the kind permission of the Legislative Assembly Office.
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