Politics of Canada, Talk:Politics of Canada
, Gun politics in Canada
, Talk:Gun politics in Canada
, Template:Politics of Canada
, Category:Politics of Canada
, Template talk:Politics of Canada
, Category talk:Politics of Canada
, Canadian and American politics compared
, Talk:Politics of Canada/Archive 1
Government type: constitutional monarchy
parliamentary democracyCapital: Ottawa, OntarioAdministrative divisions:
and 3 territories*
, British Columbia
, New Brunswick
, Newfoundland and Labrador
, Northwest Territories
*, Nova Scotia
, Prince Edward Island
, Yukon Territory
*National holiday: Canada Day
, July 1
(1867)Constitution: Westminster system
, based on unwritten conventions
and written Constitution Act, 1982
(including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
) and the Constitution Act, 1867
(formerly the British North America Act, 1867
). Legal system:
except for criminal law
(under sole federal jurisdiction), it is based on English common law
, except in Quebec, where a civil law
system, centred on the Civil Code of Quebec
and based on the Custom of Paris in pre-revolutionary France; accepts compulsory ICJ
jurisdiction, with reservations. See: Law of CanadaSuffrage:
Citizens aged 18 years or older. Only two adult citizens in Canada cannot vote; the Chief Electoral Officer
, and the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer.
* Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II
, Queen of Canada
(since February 6
** Representative in Canada: Governor General Michaëlle Jean
(since September 27
* Head of government: Prime Minister Stephen Harper
(since February 6
* Cabinet: Ministers
(usually around 30) chosen by the Prime Minister and appointed by the Governor General to lead various ministries and agencies, generally with regional representation. Most, but not all, will be members of the leader's own party in the House of Commons. see|Cabinet of
The Monarchy is hereditary. The Governor General is appointed by the Monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister for a non-specific term, though it is traditionally approximately five years. Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons is automatically designated by the Governor General to become Prime Minister.
see|Monarchy in Canada | Elections in Canada | Lieutenant-Governor (Canada) | Premier
The bicameral Parliament
consists of the Senate
and the House of Commons
; by definition, Parliament also includes the monarch. Currently, the Senate has 105 members, who are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister to serve until age 75. The Senate is frequently described as providing "regional" representation, and this was true, historically. It was created with equal representation from each of Ontario, Quebec and the Maritime region. However, it is currently the product of various specific exceptions, additions and compromises, meaning that regional equality is not observed, nor is representation-by-population. The normal number of senators can be exceeded by the Governor-General at the wish of the Prime Minister, as long as the additional Senators are distributed equally with regard to region (up to a total of 8 additional Senators). This power of additional appointment has only been used once, when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
sought to ensure the passage of a national sales tax
. The House of Commons currently has 308 members elected by a plurality of popular votes in separate constituencies (ridings)
for terms that do not exceed five years. The five-year term has been exceeded once when Prime Minister Robert Borden
perceived the need during World War I
. The size of the House and apportionment of seats to each Province is revised after every census, based on population changes and is based approximately on representation-by-population
representation in House of Commons - last held January 23
* Election results:
Canadian federal election,
* also see Canadian Senate
Political parties, leaders, and status
(By number of elected representatives in House of Commons)
*Conservative Party of Canada
- Stephen Harper
*Liberal Party of Canada
- Stéphane Dion
, leader (official opposition
- Gilles Duceppe
*New Democratic Party
- Jack Layton
*There are currently two independent Members, André Arthur
and Garth Turner
Judicial branchSupreme Court of Canada
, judges are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the Cabinet with parliamentary committee review.
Government departments and structure
*Notable departments include Finance
, Human Resources and Skills Development
, National Defence
, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
, and Foreign Affairs
see|Structure of the Canadian federal
Notable Crown corporations and other government agencies
*Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
(formerly Royal Mail)International organization participation:
ABEDA, ACCT, AfDB, APEC
, AsDB, Australia Group, BIS, C, CCC, CDB
(non-regional), Council of Europe
(observer), Commonwealth of Nations
, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, ECLAC, ESA
(cooperating state), FAO
, La Francophonie
, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC
, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA
, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO
, IMO, Inmarsat
, IOM, ISO, ITU, Kyoto Protocol
, MINURCA, MINURSO, MIPONUH, MONUC, NAM (guest), NAFTA
, NEA, NORTHCOM, NSG, OAS
, OPCW, OSCE
, PCA, UN
, UN Security Council
(prior/temporary), UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO
, UNFICYP, UNHCR
, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNTAET, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO
, WIPO, WMO, WTO
, Zangger CommitteeFlag description:
a red maple
leaf centred on a Canadian pale
: three vertical bands of red (hoist side), white (double width, square), and red, with a length twice that of its height. see|Flag of
Federal-provincial (or intergovernmental, formerly dominion-provincial) relations is a regular issue in Canadian politics: Quebec wishes to preserve and strengthen its distinctive nature, western provinces desire more control over their abundant natural resources, especially energy reserves; industrialized Central Canada
is concerned with its manufacturing base, and the Atlantic provinces strive to escape from being less affluent than the rest of the country.
In order to ensure that social programs such as health care and education are funded consistently throughout Canada, the "have-not" (poorer) provinces receive a proportionately greater share of federal "transfer (equalization) payments
" than the richer, or "have", provinces do; this has been somewhat controversial. The richer provinces often favour freezing transfer payments, or rebalancing the system in their favour, based on the claim that they already pay more in taxes than they receive in federal government services, and the poorer provinces often favour an increase on the basis that the amount of money they receive is not sufficient for their existing needs.
Particularly in the past decade, some scholars have argued that the federal government's exercise of its unlimited constitutional spending power has contributed to strained federal-provincial relations. This power, which allows the federal government to spend the revenue it raises in any way that it pleases, allows it to overstep the constitutional division of powers by creating programs that encroach on areas of provincial jurisdiction. The federal spending power is found in s. 102 of the British North America Act 1867
, now known as the Constitution Act, 1867
. A prime example of an exercise of the spending power is the Canada Health Act
, which is a conditional grant of money to the provinces. Delivery of health services is, under the Constitution, a provincial responsibility. However, by making the funding available to the provinces under the Canada Health Act contingent upon delivery of services according to federal standards, the federal government has the ability to influence health care delivery. This spending power, coupled with Supreme Court rulings — such as Reference Re Canada Assistance Plan (B.C.)
— that have held that funding delivered under the spending power can be reduced unilaterally at any time, has contributed to strained federal-provincial relations.
Quebec and Canadian politics
Except for three short-lived transitional or minority governments, Prime Ministers from Quebec have led Canada continuously since 1967. Quebecers have led both Liberal and Conservative governments in this period.
Prime Ministers are now expected to be fluent in English and at least functional in French. In selecting leaders, political parties give preference to candidates who are fluently bilingual.
Also, by law, judges from Quebec must hold three of the nine positions on the Supreme Court of Canada
. This representation makes sure that at least three judges have sufficient experience with the civil law system to treat cases involving Quebec laws.
One of the effects of Canada being bilingual is that the Prime Minister is usually able to speak in their second language and for many years Canada has had bilingual Prime Ministers.
The most striking example of what this can result in occurred when Brian Mulroney
was Prime Minister. He often said one thing to reporters in English and something that was different and actually contradictory in French. Even those that were not bilingual (and 17% of the country is considered bilingual and many more would be able to follow a simple conversation with reporters) were made aware of this in news coverage. However for those who could actually understand the difference it was quite striking. While Brian Mulroney was best known for doing this, other Prime Ministers have also been self-contradictory at times between their French and English comments.
Canada has a long and storied history of secessionist movements (see Secessionist movements of Canada
). National unity has been a major issue in Canada since the forced union of the Canadas in 1840.
The predominant and lingering issue concerning Canadian national unity has been the ongoing conflict between the French-speaking majority in Quebec and the English-speaking majority in the rest of Canada, popularly referred to as "two solitudes
". Quebec's continued demands for recognition of its "distinct society
" through special political status has led to attempts for constitutional reform, most notably with the failed attempts to amend the constitution through the Meech Lake Accord
and the Charlottetown Accord
(the latter of which was rejected though a national referendum
Since the Quiet Revolution
, sovereignist sentiments in Quebec have been variably stoked by the patriation of the Canadian constitution in 1982
(without Quebec's consent) and by the failed attempts at constitutional reform. Two provincial referendums, in 1980
, rejected proposals for sovereignty with majorities of 60% and 50.6% respectively. Given the narrow federalist victory in 1995, a reference was made by the Chrétien
government to the Supreme Court of Canada
in 1998 regarding the legality of unilateral provincial secession
. The court decided that a unilateral declaration of secession would be unconstitutional. This resulted in the passage of the Clarity Act
Fears over the sovereignty of Quebec have recently gained renewed importance as the Bloc Québécois
, a sovereignist party that had, until recently, been seen as a spent force, have seen their fortunes reversed by revelations of alleged massive corruption and misspending in Quebec by the Liberal Party of Canada. Their increased support has come at the expense of the Liberal Party, the only viable federalist party in the province.
To stem apparent "Western alienation" by Central Canada
and, particularly, Ottawa
), there have also been renewed calls in Alberta to implement a "firewall" — as outlined in the Alberta Agenda
— in order to further reduce the presence of the federal government in that province. Such an option, advocated by the likes of Ted Morton
and Stephen Harper
, would see Alberta take steps to make full use of its constitutional powers, much as Quebec has done.
Similarly, recent remarks made by Ontario
's Premier Dalton McGuinty
has spoken of a growing dissatisfaction with Canadian Confederation
, especially with the fiscal imbalance that plagues the relationship between the province and the federal government. The province provides $23 billion CAD
more to the federal government than is returned each year.
Paul Martin's Liberal Party won a minority victory in the June 2004 general elections
. In December 2003, Martin had succeeded fellow Liberal Jean Chrétien, who had, in 2000, become the first Prime Minister to lead three consecutive majority governments since 1945. However, in 2004 the Liberals lost seats in Parliament, going from 172 of 301 Parliamentary seats to 135 of 308, and from 40.9% to 36.7% in the popular vote. The Canadian Alliance
, which did well in western Canada in the 2000 election, but was unable to make significant inroads in the East, merged with the Progressive Conservative Party
to form the Conservative Party of Canada
in late 2003. They proved to be moderately successful in the 2004 campaign, gaining seats from a combined Alliance-PC total of 78 in 2000 to 99 in 2004. However, the new Conservatives lost in popular vote, going from 37.7% in 2000 down to 29.6%.
This was the first minority government in Canada federally since 1979-1980. That government, led by Joe Clark
, lasted only seven months. The situation, however, was different from the current one. The Clark government was elected in part because many voters did not want to support the Liberal party, but they did not expect that the Progressive Conservatives would win enough seats for a minority government. In contrast, polls taken during the 2004 election showed that many Canadians wanted a minority government.
Minority governments are not always short-lived. While they have not generally lasted four years, there have been minority governments in the time before 1979 that were fairly stable and able to pass legislation. Minority government situations in Canada may become somewhat difficult to manage though, as in the past there were only three parties that had a significant number of seats in parliament (fourth parties were at times represented in small numbers), although the third party
has changed over time. This meant an alliance between the governing and third parties would have a solid majority. Since the 1930s, the third party was usually the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation
or later the New Democratic Party
, which was created when an alliance was formed between labour unions and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. The Social Credit Party of Canada
was the third party at times. Before this, there were other parties that had significant influence; such as the Progressive Party
in the 1920s.
No such governing coalition was able to form in the 38th Parliament.
Party funding reform
Funding changes were made by the last Liberal government to deal with the issues of fair access to funding for parties running for seats in the federal parliament. Previously the Liberal Party and the Progressive Conservative Party had benefited the most from the system as they received much more business funding than two other parties, the New Democratic Party
and the Bloc Québécois
. The New Democratic Party traditionally got less funding from business, but receives a larger percentage of union funding than the Liberal and PC parties. This led to the net result of the previous system favouring parties that were more likely to get business contributions. There was no fifth party that was receiving much of its money in this manner, and the Green Party of Canada
functioned mainly through personal donations. The NDP also had to depend in a greater manner on personal contributions. It should be noted that personal donations to federal parties and campaigns benefit from tax credits, although the amount of tax relief depends on the amount given. Also only people paying taxes receive any benefit from this.
A good part of the reasoning behind the change in funding was that union or business funding should not be allowed to have as much impact on federal election funding as these are not contributions from citizens and are not evenly spread out between parties. They are still allowed to contribute to the election but only in a minor fashion. The new rules stated that a party had to receive 2% of the vote nationwide in order to receive the general federal funding for parties. Each vote garnered a certain dollar amount for a party (approximately $1.75) in future funding. Because this system had not been use before approximations were made based on previous elections. The NDP received more votes than expected (its national share of the vote went up) while the new Conservative Party of Canada received fewer votes than had been estimated and has been asked to refund the difference. The Liberal party also likely received fewer votes than expected. Figures are not yet known, but it is believed they too will need to refund money. It should be noted that the province of Quebec
was the first province to implement a similar system of funding many years before the changes to funding of federal parties.
Federal funds are disbursed quarterly to parties, beginning at the start of 2005. For the moment, this disbursement delay leaves the NDP and the Green Party in a better position to fight an election, since they rely more on individual contributors than federal funds. (The Green party now receives federal funds, since it for the first time received a sufficient share of the vote in the 2004 election.)
Federal ridings vary in competitiveness. Some are dubbed safe seat
s, such as Ottawa—Vanier
, which has elected a Liberal MP every election for over 50 years. The changes to the campaign funding structure likely had an impact on voting, and certainly had an impact on electoral strategy.
Strongholds present two problems for less-competitive parties. The first is "strategic voting." in which supporters of less-competitive parties vote for the candidate of a party they prefer less, but which is more competitive. By doing so they might defeat the MP holding the "safe" seat, who they may prefer least of all. The second problem that of apathy. Supporters of less-competitive parties may not see the point in voting for their preferred party if their party's candidate has no hope of winning. But rather than casting a "strategic" ballot, they simply stay home.
However, under the new rules, the strategy of less-competitive parties became to persuade their supporters that votes for unsuccessful candidates would increase allocated funding. Often the amount was explained to the voters. So even if the seat was clearly safe, their voting would have a greater impact than it had in the past. The smaller the party, the stronger this argument became.
Even though the new rules likely had the most impact for smaller parties, this strategy was probably used by all parties to try to increase their percentage of the vote. For supporters of the party holding the safe seat, one could argue that even if their vote was not needed to secure the seat for the party, it still made a difference to party funding.
Commonly, two national debates receive nationwide coverage during an election, one in each official language. Both debates are broadcast in translation, so it is possible to watch either debate without a working knowledge of the language of the debate, although part of the meaning can be lost. People who are bilingual enough to understand both the English- and French-language debates without need of translation will get a better idea of the substances of the two debates and the differences between them if they decide to watch both debates.
Currently only the parties represented in Parliament participate in the debates. The Green Party, however, has argued that it should also be allowed to participate. Its share of the vote has increased greatly, due in part to the new funding formula, in part because it ran in many more ridings than in previous elections (it nominated candidates in every riding in the 2004
elections), and in part to increased popularity. Thus the argument goes that if there is sufficient national support to earn official recognition as a party (i.e., one that is granted funding based on getting 2% or more of the national vote) it should also be allowed to debate on the same level as the other officially recognized parties.
Also, having received 6% of the vote in British Columbia and based on past precedent, the Greens will have a stronger case for being included in the debates in future elections. The Bloc Québécois was allowed to participate in debates on the basis of its support in Quebec - even before it had elected any MPs in a general election (the only Bloc's MPs at the time had either switched parties or won in by-elections). Furthermore, on the basis of anticipated support, the Reform Party of Canada
was included in debates despite only having a single MP. Therefore, past party performance or number of seats is not how participants are chosen.
Determination of party funding for 2004 election
Because the new funding was based on percentage of the vote gained, an estimate was made towards how much each federal party would receive. All federal parties that had seats in the House of Commons were given funding. Because the Canadian Conservative party was new, estimates were attempted based on the votes for the old Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
and the Canadian Alliance
party as the Conservative Party of Canada was a merger of the two parties. The amount the Conservative Party of Canada was given was above the amount it was estimated to receive and is expected to return the money. The Liberal party of Canada also received less votes than expected and is in the same situation. However some parties benefited from the new system. The NDP received less funding than the number of votes it received (it increased its share of the vote) and will receive additional funds to reflect this. For the first time the Green Party of Canada will receive direct federal funding in the next election as it was able to achieve the 2% vote threshold required (in British Columbia where the party was the most successful it garnered 6% of the vote). Impact on the Bloc Québécois funding (if they will need to return funds) is not yet clear but since it increased its share of the vote in Quebec (the only province it runs in) it is expected to be in a surplus position as well. In the future these numbers will be known ahead of time as they will be based on the previous electoral results.
In March 2001, Bernard Landry
succeeded Lucien Bouchard
as premier of Quebec (see List of Quebec Premiers
) and pledged to promote independence for Quebec and to hold another referendum on sovereignty
. In the 2003 Quebec election
, Quebecers elected the Quebec Liberal Party
, and Jean Charest
became premier, the first solidly federalist premier since the 1980s.
Advertising efforts by the federal government following the 1995 referendum led to alleged excesses by government officials; while the issue broke in the press in 2002, it came to full prominence after the Auditor's Report, causing the "sponsorship scandal
". The Gomery Commission
, and its subsequent reports, have continued the situation.
Currently, such issues as medicare
, unemployment, housing, education, taxes, trade, and the environment
preoccupy many Canadians more urgently than national unity. In October 2004, there was a health care summit where all the provincial premiers and territorial leaders participated that has resulted in a change in federal funding towards health care.
Only British Columbia
ns have the ability to remove sitting members of the provincial legislature through recall election
At 11:18 a.m., on February 6, 2006, Stephen Harper
was sworn in as Prime Minister of Canada at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. That same day at approximately 11:22 a.m., Stephen Harper introduced his new cabinet, and they were sworn in before Her Excellency the Governor General.
*Canadian and American politics compared
*Canadian and Australian politics compared
*Political culture of Canada
*List of political parties in Canada
*Canadian federal election results since 1867
*Canadian political scandals
Comprehensive overview of politics in Canada
*http://centrerion.blogspot.com/2006/04/canadian-political-system.html Centrerion: Canadian Politics
A Guide to Canadian Politics and legislation at a moderate political analysis blog based in Quebec
*http://www.canadiancontent.net/forums/ Canadian Political Forums
*http://www.mapleleafweb.com/ Maple Leaf Web
*http://citymayors.com/government/canada_government2.html City Mayors article on provinces and cities
*http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-73-1700/politics_economy/political_scandals/ CBC Digital Archives - Scandals, Boondoggles and White Elephants
*http://archives.cbc.ca/IDD-1-73-1181/politics_economy/federal_elections/ CBC Digital Archives - Campaigning for Canada
Commonwealth of Category:Government of CanadaCategory:Westminster system*es:Política de Canadáfr:Politique du Canadapt:Política do Canadázh:加拿大政治