Clerk and Officers of the Assembly
As the chief executive officer of the Legislative Assembly the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly is accountable to the Speaker and has authority and responsibility similar to that of a deputy minister.
Under the direction of the Speaker the Clerk has both procedural and managerial responsibilities and oversees the delivery of nonpartisan services to Members of the Legislative Assembly and their staff.
The Clerk advises the Speaker on procedure and calls the daily order of business in the Assembly.
Outside the Chamber the Clerk maintains House records, produces Assembly documents and oversees the daily operations of the Legislative Assembly Office.
The position of Clerk dates back to the 14th century, when a Clerk’s most important skills were reading and writing. The Clerk read petitions, Bills and resolutions to the Assembly and kept its records.
Today the role has evolved significantly, and the Clerk is integral to every aspect of the Assembly.
Table officers provide procedural advice to the Speaker, presiding officers and Members of the Legislative Assembly during sittings of the Assembly. The table officers include the Clerk, Law Clerk, Clerk Assistant and Senior Parliamentary Counsel, Clerk of Committees and Research Services, Research Officer, Parliamentary Counsel and Director of Parliamentary Programs.
Aptly named as they sit at the table in the Assembly, the table officers provide record-keeping services and ensure the smooth functioning of the Assembly.
Their responsibilities include timing debates, recording speakers and their times, advising on matters of parliamentary procedure, keeping minutes of the proceedings and recording votes and divisions.
In addition to these functions, the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel also provide nonpartisan legal advice to the Speaker, Members of the Legislative Assembly, committees and other branches of the LAO.
They assist in drafting private Members' public Bills, review the form of proposed amendments to all types of Bills and motions, and approve petitions prior to their presentation in the Assembly.
The Sergeant-at-Arms is the principal security and protocol adviser to the Speaker, MLAs, constituency staff and Legislative Assembly Office (LAO) employees and liaises with external intelligence, public safety and security organizations. As designated by the Speaker, the Sergeant-at-Arms is the head of the Assembly’s security service and responsible for the safety and security of all persons within the Chamber, the Legislature Building, select areas of the Edmonton Federal Building and constituency offices throughout the province.
An officer of the Assembly, the Sergeant-at-Arms provides for the care and custody of the Mace, the ceremonial staff that represents both the Speaker’s and, by extension, the Assembly’s authority.
The Sergeant-at-Arms carries it to the Assembly table in the procession that begins each afternoon sitting.
remains at the Assembly table throughout the sitting as a symbol of the Assembly’s authority.
When the Assembly meets as a committee to study bills or budgetary estimates in detail, a chair, not the Speaker, presides over both the Committee of the Whole and Committee of Supply.
When the Assembly resolves into a committee of the whole Assembly, the Speaker leaves the Chamber and the Sergeant-at-Arms removes the Mace from the Assembly table and places it on a bracket below the table.
The role of the Sergeant-at-Arms is another legacy of early Parliament.
Historians speculate that the original purpose of the opening procession was to provide Speakers with bodyguards to protect them from harm as they entered the Chamber. The symbolic act of removing the Mace from the Assembly table also has its roots in
the early days of the British Parliament when the Speaker, who was appointed by the monarch, wasn’t trusted to hear certain parts of Members’ discussions.