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Opening of the Legislature

After a general election is held, a new general assembly meets and begins a new legislative session. The Lieutenant Governor requires and commands the House of Assembly to elect a new Speaker. Once the Speaker has been approved by the Lieutenant Governor, he or she declares the new session is open. Each new session of a general assembly is formally opened with the reading of the Speech from the Throne by the Lieutenant Governor.

The opening of a new session is marked by tradition and fanfare. By tradition, the Lieutenant Governor wears the Civil Uniform to deliver the Speech from the Throne.

On opening day, a military guard of honour and band form up in front of the east entrance to Province House, followed by a flag party. On arrival, the Lieutenant Governor takes his or her place at the saluting platform on the steps of Province House. The band plays the Royal Salute and a 15-gun salute fires from Citadel Hill. On invitation, the Lieutenant Governor proceeds to inspect the guard of honor and band. After more formalities, the Lieutenant Governor enters Province House through a guard of honour formed by the official escort.

In the House of Assembly chamber, Members of the Legislative Assembly and invited dignitaries take their seats. To fanfare, the Sergeant-at-Arms announces the Lieutenant Governor’s arrival and he or she is escorted to the Speaker’s platform. The reading of the Speech from the Throne begins. The speech itself is prepared by the Premier in consultation with Cabinet and sets out the government’s agenda for the session.

Following the speech, the Lieutenant Governor and dignitaries leave the chamber and the Speaker takes the chair. A pro forma bill, An Act Respecting Oaths of Office is introduced by the Minister of Justice. This bill asserts the independence of the House and the right to set its own business. The debate on the Speech from the Throne, called the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne, begins when a government member moves approval of the Speech. The motion is then seconded by another government member, followed by an address by the leader of the official opposition.

During the session, the Address in Reply from the Speech from the Throne remains on the Order Paper under government business and may be called for debate at any time. Often, the Address in Reply is the first, or maiden, speech delivered in the House by new members.