Politics·Video

How Parliament Hill works

The cabinet room, caucus and the steps to power: the CBC"s Chris Rands goes behind the scenes of politics in Canada.

Cabinet, caucus and the steps to power: Behind the scenes of politics in Canada

Inside Parliament Hill's Centre Block are the corridors - and stairs - of power in Canadian federal politics. (Patrick Morrell/CBC)

Canada has a long parliamentary tradition, but how it actually functions is not well known.

This series of videos by the CBC's Chris Rands takes Canadians to places they may not see on the public tour of Parliament Hill.

Measuring success in question period

MPs fill the House of Commons every day for question period. 40 or so questions are asked as the opposition calls for accountability from the government. Few of the exchanges are used as reporters look for the best quotes and sound-bites for their stories. With so many questions asked, which do MPs themselves consider a success? The CBC spoke to three opposition MPs for their take on success.

Chris Rands speaks to three Opposition MPs about how they use QP to further their work 1:45

The Prime Minister's Office

The Prime Minister's Office sits across from Parliament Hill and it is where many of the decisions that affect Canadians are made. This video takes a look at how senior bureaucrats and politicians work together to run the country. 

The Prime Minister's Office sits across from Parliament Hill and it is where many of the decisions that affect Canadians are made 2:15

The stairs of power

​Inside Centre Block is a staircase that links the Prime Minister's Office, the cabinet room and the Opposition Leader's Office to the House of Commons — and it's where journalists gather to hold cabinet ministers to account.

Inside Centre Block on Parliament Hill is a staircase that connects the PMO, the cabinet room and the Opposition Leader's office to the House of Commons. And it's where journalists gather to hold cabinet ministers to account. 0:59

The cabinet room

Every week there are meetings on Parliament Hill that decide how the Canadian government — the federal cabinet — will run the country.

Every week there are secret meetings on Parliament Hill that decide how the Canadian government will run the country. Chris Rands takes you to the room where it happens. 1:33

The place where MPs speak freely

Each Wednesday when Parliament is in session, MPs (and Conservative Senators) have the chance to bring their constituents' concerns to their weekly caucus meetings. These closed door affairs are also an occasion to voice their own concerns — but what is said in caucus, stays in caucus.

MPs (and Conservative senators) have the chance to bring constituents' concerns to their party's weekly caucus meeting. It is also an occasion to voice their own concerns - but what is said in caucus, stays in caucus. 1:31

Listening in on caucus meetings

While the weekly caucus meetings on Parliament Hill are closed-door gatherings — but that hasn't stopped some attempts over the years to eavesdrop.

Weekly caucus meetings on Parliament Hill are closed-door gatherings - but that hasn't stopped attempts to eavesdrop. 1:36

Secret hand signals in question period

How House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan manages the time allotment for MPs' questions and answers.

Chris Rands on how the Speak of the House of Commons warns MPs that their speaking time is up 1:43

The power behind the Speaker's chair

The chair where the Speaker of the House of Commons sits offers some modern tools to keep question period moving along.

Speaker of the House of Commons Geoff Regan speaks about the features of his special chair 1:45

Coming soon: the Canadian Senate on TV

The Senate will soon join the House of Commons in having its proceedings televised.

Unlike the House of Commons, TV cameras have not been allowed inside Canada's Senate. That's about to change. 1:36

About the Author

Chris Rands

Parliamentary bureau

Chris Rands has been a member of the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau since 2001. As a producer, he has travelled with two prime ministers to six countries. His most famous interview — with Jody Wilson-Raybould — was conducted while walking backwards down Parliament Hill. He also discovered NATO leaders discussing U.S. President Donald Trump on tape during a reception at Buckingham Palace. Chris is a former president of the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

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