A Parliament is summoned following a general election and continues to exist until it is dissolved (ended) by a proclamation of the Governor General at the request of the Prime Minister. This is followed by another general election. The Constitution sets the maximum lifespan of a Parliament at five years; however, recent changes to the Canada Elections Act provide for fixed date elections every four years.
Each Parliament is made up of one or more sessions, each consisting of a number of separate sittings (meetings), separated by periods of adjournment. Each session, except the final one, ends when Parliament is prorogued by the Governor General. The final session ends with the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of a general election.

As with all deliberative bodies, discussion in the House of Commons must always be relevant to some definite proposal or motion. The House makes up its mind on these specific proposals by deciding on questions put to it by the Speaker. Without a motion and a question, there can be no debate. Once the Speaker proposes a question to the House, debate may take place. The Speaker has extensive powers to enforce the rules of debate—which are, in general, limitations on what may be said, when and by whom, and for how long—in order to guide the flow of debate and protect it from excess.

During the process of debate, the House follows a basic sequence of steps: providing notice of the motion, moving and seconding the motion, proposing the question from the Chair, debating the motion, amending the motion, putting the question on the motion, and arriving at a decision on the motion.
In order to bring a proposal before the House and obtain a decision on it, a motion is necessary. A motion is a proposal moved by one Member in accordance with well-established rules that the House do something, or order that something be done or express an opinion with regard to some matter. A motion initiates a discussion and gives rise to the question to be decided by the House.

While there may be many items on the Order Paper awaiting the consideration of the House, only one motion can be debated at any one time. After the Chair has proposed a motion, the House is formally seized of it. A motion may be debated, amended, superseded, adopted, defeated or withdrawn.

A motion is adopted if it receives the support of the majority of the Members present in the House at the time the decision is taken. Every motion, once adopted, becomes either an order or a resolution of the House. Through its orders, the House regulates its proceedings or gives an instruction to its Members or officers, or one of its committees. A resolution makes a declaration of opinion or purpose; it does not have the effect of requiring that any action be taken, nor is it binding. The House has frequently brought forth resolutions in order to show support for some action.