Brief Overview of Associations

Canada's international parliamentary relations are carried out in part through parliamentary associations and interparliamentary groups.

Parliamentary Associations

Though their activities and objectives may be varied, the 12 associations to which the Parliament of Canada belongs share similar characteristics:

  • they promote the country's interests abroad on a continuing basis;
  • operate on multilateral and bilateral levels; and
  • are composed of members of the Senate and of the House of Commons.

Members meet on a regular basis and at annual general meetings where they elect executive committees to coordinate and direct activities with their bilateral counterparts or with the international secretariats of the multilateral organizations to which they belong.

Each association has a secretary responsible for its day-to-day operations. The Association Secretary is assisted by the staff of the International and Interparliamentary Affairs Directorate who provide administrative and logistical support to association members of both Houses of Parliament.

The Joint Interparliamentary Council (JIC), which operates under the authority of the two Speakers, is responsible for determining all budgetary and administrative matters relating to Parliamentary Associations. Specifically, the Council determines the level of funding to be distributed to each association within the limits of the total allotments approved by the Senate Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and the House of Commons' Board of Internal Economy.

View JIC annual reports.

Recognized Interparliamentary groups

There are four official interparliamentary groups that currently operate within the Canadian Parliament. Three groups, Canada-Germany, Canada-Israel and Canada-Italy, were officially constituted in 1981. Canada-Ireland was officially recognized in 2004.

The aim of these interparliamentary groups is to strengthen relations between Canadian parliamentarians and those in the countries concerned, fostering mutual cooperation and understanding between nations.

These groups organize general meetings and working luncheons for their members and from time to time welcome parliamentarians or officials from the different countries involved.

Interparliamentary groups receive no funding. Their sole source of revenue is the membership fees they receive from individual parliamentarians.

Other Interparliamentary Groups

In addition to the groups above, there are a number of other groups, often referred to as “Friendship Groups”, which receive no administrative support or funding from the Parliament of Canada. These unsupported groups are not required to register their activities or membership with the JIC, however they are encouraged to advise the International and Interparliamentary Affairs Directorate in order to assist those who might wish to contact one of these groups. For more information regarding these groups please consult the unofficial list of other interparliamentary groups.