Politics of Canada

The politics of Canada function within a framework of parliamentary democracy and a federal system of parliamentary government with strong democratic traditions.[1] Canada is a constitutional monarchy, in which the monarch is head of state. In practice, the executive powers is directed by the Cabinet, a committee of ministers of the Crown responsible to the elected House of Commons of Canada and chosen and headed by the Prime Minister of Canada.[2]

Canada is described as a "full democracy",[3] with a tradition of liberalism,[4] and an egalitarian,[5] moderate political ideology.[6][7][8] Far-right and far-left politics have never been a prominent force in Canadian society.[9][10] Peace, order, and good government, alongside an implied bill of rights are founding principles of the Canadian government.[11][12] An emphasis on social justice has been a distinguishing element of Canada's political culture.[13] Canada has placed emphasis on equality and inclusiveness for all its people.[14]

The country has a multi-party system in which many of its legislative practices derive from the unwritten conventions of and precedents set by the Westminster parliament of the United Kingdom. The two dominant political parties in Canada have historically been the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party of Canada (or its predecessors) however, the social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP) has risen to prominence and even threatened to upset the two other established parties during the 2011 federal election. Smaller parties like the Quebec nationalist Bloc Québécois and the Green Party of Canada have also been able to exert their own influence over the political process.

Canada has evolved variations: party discipline in Canada is stronger than in the United Kingdom, and more parliamentary votes are considered motions of confidence, which tends to diminish the role of non-Cabinet members of parliament (MPs). Such members, in the government caucus, and junior or lower-profile members of opposition caucuses, are known as backbenchers. Backbenchers can, however, exert their influence by sitting in parliamentary committees, like the Public Accounts Committee or the National Defence Committee.


A map of Canada's provinces and territories

Canada's governmental structure was originally established by the British Parliament through the British North America Act (now known as the Constitution Act, 1867),[15] but the federal model and division of powers were devised by Canadian politicians. Particularly after World War I, citizens of the self-governing Dominions, such as Canada, began to develop a strong sense of identity, and, in the Balfour Declaration of 1926, the British government expressed its intent to grant full autonomy to these regions.

Thus in 1931, the British Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster, giving legal recognition to the autonomy of Canada and other Dominions. Following this, Canadian politicians were unable to obtain consensus on a process for amending the constitution until 1982, meaning amendments to Canada's constitution continued to require the approval of the British parliament until that date. Similarly, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain continued to make the final decision on criminal appeals until 1933 and on civil appeals until 1949.[16]

Political culture

A copy of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Canada's egalitarian approach to governance has emphasized social welfare, economic freedom, and multiculturalism, which is based on selective economic migrants, social integration, and suppression of far-right politics, that has wide public and political support.[17][18] Its broad range of constituent nationalities and policies that promote a "just society" are constitutionally protected.[19][20] Individual rights, equality and inclusiveness (social equality) have risen to the forefront of political and legal importance for most Canadians, as demonstrated through support for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a relatively free economy, and social liberal attitudes toward women's rights, homosexuality, pregnancy termination, euthanasia or cannabis use.[19][20][14][21] There is also a sense of collective responsibility in Canadian political culture, as is demonstrated in general support for universal health care, multiculturalism, gun control, foreign aid, and other social programs.[22][23][24][25]

Canada has been dominated by two relatively centrist parties at the federal level,[26][27] the centre-left Liberal Party of Canada and the centre-right Conservative Party of Canada.[28] The historically predominant Liberals position themselves at the center of the political scale with the Conservatives sitting on the right and the New Democratic Party occupying the left.[29][26][29][30] Five parties had representatives elected to the federal parliament in the 2015 election: the Liberal Party who currently form the government, the Conservative Party who are the Official Opposition, the New Democratic Party, the Bloc Québécois, and the Green Party of Canada.[31]

Governmental organization

Type of government 
Westminster style federal parliamentary democracy within a constitutional monarchy.
Administrative divisions 
Ten provinces and three territories*: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories*, Nova Scotia, Nunavut*, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon*.
Westminster system, based on unwritten conventions and written legislation.
Legal system 
English common law for all matters within federal jurisdiction and in all provinces and territories except Quebec, which is based on the civil law, based on the Custom of Paris in pre-revolutionary France as set out in the Civil Code of Quebec; accepts compulsory International Court of Justice jurisdiction, with reservations.
Citizens aged 18 years or older. Only two adult citizens in Canada cannot vote: the Chief Electoral Officer, and the Deputy Chief Electoral Officer. The Governor General is eligible to vote, but abstains due to constitutional convention.


Head of state
Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada (since February 6, 1952).
Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada (since October 2, 2017).

Executive power

Head of government
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (since November 4, 2015).
Ministers (usually around thirty) chosen by the Prime Minister and appointed by the Governor General to lead various ministries and agencies, generally with regional representation. Traditionally most, if not all, cabinet ministers will be members of the leader's own party in the House of Commons or Senate (see Cabinet of Canada); however this is not legally or constitutionally mandated, and occasionally, the Prime Minister will appoint a cabinet minister from another party.
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 usually designated by the Governor General to become Prime Minister.

Legislative power

The bicameral Parliament of Canada consists of three parts: the monarch, the Senate, and the House of Commons.

Currently, the Senate, which is frequently described as providing "regional" representation, has 105 members appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister to serve until age 75. It was created with equal representation from each of Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime region and the Western Provinces. 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 monarch on the advice of the Prime Minister, as long as the additional senators are distributed equally with regard to region (up to a total of eight additional Senators). This power of additional appointment has only been used once, when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney petitioned Queen Elizabeth II to add eight seats to the Senate so as to ensure the passage of the Goods and Services Tax legislation.

Colline du Parlement, Édifice du Centre 04
A democratically elected body, the House of Commons of Canada is one of three components of the Parliament of Canada.

The House of Commons currently has 338 members elected in single-member districts in a plurality voting system (first past the post), meaning that members must attain only a plurality (the most votes of any candidate) rather than a majority (50 percent plus one). The electoral districts are also known as ridings.

Mandates cannot exceed five years; an election must occur by the end of this time. This fixed mandate has been exceeded only once, when Prime Minister Robert Borden perceived the need to do so during World War I. The size of the House and apportionment of seats to each province is revised after every census, conducted every five years, and is based on population changes and approximately on representation-by-population.

Majority and minority governments

Canadians vote for their local Member of Parliament (MP) only. An MP need not be a member of any political party: such MPs are known as independents. When a number of MPs share political opinions they may form a body known as a political party.

The Canada Elections Act defines a political party as "an organization one of whose fundamental purposes is to participate in public affairs by endorsing one or more of its members as candidates and supporting their election." Forming and registering a federal political party are two different things. There is no legislation regulating the formation of federal political parties. Elections Canada cannot dictate how a federal political party should be formed or how its legal, internal and financial structures should be established.[32]

Parties elect their leaders in run-off elections to ensure that the winner receives more than 50% of the votes. Normally the party leader stands as a candidate to be an MP during an election. Canada's parliamentary system empowers political parties and their party leaders. Where one party gets a majority of the seats in the House of Commons, that party is said to have a "majority government." Through party discipline, the party leader, who is elected in only one riding, exercises a great deal of control over the cabinet and the parliament.

Historically the prime minister and senators are selected by the governor general as a representative of the Queen, though in modern practice the monarch's duties are ceremonial. Consequently, the prime minister while technically selected by the governor general is for all practical purposes selected by the party with the majority of seats. That is, the party that gets the most seats normally forms the government, with that party's leader becoming prime minister. The prime minister is not directly elected by the general population, although the prime minister is almost always directly elected as an MP within his or her constituency. Again senators while technically selected at the pleasure of the monarch, are ceremonially selected by the governor general at the advice (and for most practical purposes authority) of the prime minister.

A minority government situation occurs when the party that holds the most seats in the House of Commons holds fewer seats than the opposition parties combined. In this scenario usually the party leader whose party has the most seats in the House is selected by the governor general to lead the government, however, to create stability, the leader chosen must have the support of the majority of the House, meaning they need the support of at least one other party.

Federal-provincial relations

Mackenzie King with Ferguson and Taschereau
William Lyon Mackenzie King (center), Prime minister of Canada, between Howard Ferguson (left), Premier of Ontario, and Louis-Alexandre Taschereau(right), Premier of Quebec, at the Dominion-Provincial Conference, 1927.

In Canada, the provinces are considered co-sovereign; sovereignty of the provinces is passed on, not by the Governor General or the Canadian parliament, but through the Crown itself. This means that the Crown is "divided" into 11 legal jurisdictions; into 11 "Crowns" – one federal and ten provincial.

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 not expressly set out in the Constitution Act, 1867; however, in the words of the Court of Appeal for Ontario the power "can be inferred" from s. 91(1A), "the public debt and property".[33]

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. Regulation 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 led Canada continuously from 1968 to early 2006. Québécois led both Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments in this period.

Monarchs, governors general, and prime ministers are now expected to be at least functional, if not fluent, in both English and French. In selecting leaders, political parties give preference to candidates who are fluently bilingual.

Also, by law, three of the nine positions on the Supreme Court of Canada must be held by judges from Quebec. This representation makes sure that at least three judges have sufficient experience with the civil law system to treat cases involving Quebec laws.[34]

National unity

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 Upper and Lower Canada 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. 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 through a national referendum).

Since the Quiet Revolution, sovereigntist 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 referenda, in 1980 and 1995, 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 in 2000.

The Bloc Québécois, a sovereigntist party which runs candidates exclusively in Quebec, was started by a group of MPs who left the Progressive Conservative (PC) party (along with several disaffected Liberal MPs), and first put forward candidates in the 1993 federal election. With the collapse of the PCs in that election, the Bloc and Liberals were seen as the only two viable parties in Quebec. Thus, prior to the 2006 election, any gain by one party came at the expense of the other, regardless of whether national unity was really at issue. The Bloc, then, benefited (with a significant increase in seat total) from the impressions of corruption that surrounded the Liberal Party in the leadup to the 2004 election. However, the newly unified Conservative party re-emerged as a viable party in Quebec by winning 10 seats in the 2006 election. In the 2011 election, the New Democratic Party succeeded in winning 59 of Quebec's 75 seats, successfully reducing the number of seats of every other party substantially. The NDP surge nearly destroyed the Bloc, reducing them to 4 seats, far below the minimum requirement of 12 seats for Official party status.

Newfoundland and Labrador is also a problem regarding national unity. As the Dominion of Newfoundland was a self-governing country equal to Canada until 1949, there are large, though uncoordinated, feelings of Newfoundland nationalism and anti-Canadian sentiment among much of the population. This is due in part to the perception of chronic federal mismanagement of the fisheries, forced resettlement away from isolated settlements in the 1960s, the government of Quebec still drawing inaccurate political maps whereby they take parts of Labrador, and to the perception that mainland Canadians look down upon Newfoundlanders. In 2004, the Newfoundland and Labrador First Party contested provincial elections and in 2008 in federal ridings within the province. In 2004, then-premier Danny Williams ordered all federal flags removed from government buildings as a result of lost offshore revenues to equalization clawbacks.[35] On December 23, 2004, premier Williams made this statement to reporters in St. John's,

They basically slighted us, they are not treating us as a proper partner in Confederation. It's intolerable and it's insufferable and these flags will be taken down indefinitely.... It's also quite apparent to me that we were dragged to Manitoba in order to punish us, quite frankly, to try to embarrass us, to bring us out there to get no deal and send us back with our tail between our legs.

— Premier Danny Williams[35]

Western alienation is another national-unity-related concept that enters into Canadian politics. Residents of the four western provinces, particularly Alberta, have often been unhappy with a lack of influence and a perceived lack of understanding when residents of Central Canada consider "national" issues. While this is seen to play itself out through many avenues (media, commerce, and so on.), in politics, it has given rise to a number of political parties whose base constituency is in western Canada. These include the United Farmers of Alberta, who first won federal seats in 1917, the Progressives (1921), the Social Credit Party (1935), the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (1935), the Reconstruction Party (1935), New Democracy (1940) and most recently the Reform Party (1989).

The Reform Party's slogan "The West Wants In" was echoed by commentators when, after a successful merger with the PCs, the successor party to both parties, the Conservative Party won the 2006 election. Led by Stephen Harper, who is an MP from Alberta, the electoral victory was said to have made "The West IS In" a reality. However, regardless of specific electoral successes or failures, the concept of western alienation continues to be important in Canadian politics, particularly on a provincial level, where opposing the federal government is a common tactic for provincial politicians. For example, in 2001, a group of prominent Albertans produced the Alberta Agenda, urging Alberta to take steps to make full use of its constitutional powers, much as Quebec has done.

Political conditions

Canada is considered by most sources to be a very stable democracy. In 2006, The Economist ranked Canada the third-most democratic nation in its Democracy Index, ahead of all other nations in the Americas and ahead of every nation more populous than itself. In 2008, Canada was ranked World No. 11 and again ahead of all countries more populous and No. 1 for the Americas. (In 2008, the United States was ranked World No. 18, Uruguay World No. 23, and Costa Rica World No. 27.)

The Liberal Party of Canada, under the leadership of Paul Martin,[36] 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%. In 2006, the Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper, won a minority government with 124 seats. They improved their percentage from 2004, garnering 36.3% of the vote. During this election, the Conservatives also made major breakthroughs in Quebec. They gained 10 seats here, whereas in 2004 they had no seats.

At the 2011 federal election, the Conservatives won a majority government with 167 seats. For the first time, the NDP became the Official Opposition, with 102 seats; the Liberals finished in third place with 34 seats. This was the first election in which the Green Party won a seat, that of leader Elizabeth May; the Bloc won 4 seats, losing official party status.

Realignment: Conservatives in power

Canada Federal Election 2004-2011
Political shift in Canada from 2004 to 2011
The governing political party(s) in each Canadian province. Multicolored provinces are governed by a coalition or minority government consisting of more than one party.

The Liberal Party, after dominating Canadian politics since the 1920s, was in decline in early years of the 21st century. As Lang (2010) concluded, they lost their majority in Parliament in the 2004 election, were defeated in 2006, and in 2008 became little more than a "rump", falling to their lowest seat count in decades and a mere 26% of the popular vote. Furthermore, said Lang (a Liberal himself), its prospects "are as bleak as they have ever been."[37] In the 2011 election, the Liberals suffered a crushing defeat, managing to secure only 18.9% of the vote share and only 34 seats. As a result, the Liberals lost their status as official opposition to the NDP.

In explaining those trends, Behiels (2010) synthesized major studies and reported that "a great many journalists, political advisors, and politicians argue that a new political party paradigm is emerging"[38] She claimed they saw a new power configuration based on a right-wing political party capable of sharply changing the traditional role of the state (federal and provincial) in the twenty-first-century. Behiels said that unlike Brian Mulroney, who tried but failed to challenge the long-term dominance of the Liberals, Harper's attempt had proven to be more determined, systematic and successful.[39]

Many commentators thought it signalled a major realignment. The Economist said, "the election represents the biggest realignment of Canadian politics since 1993."[40] Lawrence Martin, commentator for the Globe and Mail said, "Harper has completed a remarkable reconstruction of a Canadian political landscape that endured for more than a century. The realignment saw both old parties of the moderate middle, the Progressive Conservatives and the Liberals, either eliminated or marginalized."[41] Maclean's said, the election marked "an unprecedented realignment of Canadian politics" as "the Conservatives are now in a position to replace the Liberals as the natural governing party in Canada."[42]

Despite the grim outlook and poor early poll numbers, when the 2015 election was held, the Liberals under Justin Trudeau had an unprecedented comeback and the realignment was proved only temporary. Gaining 148 seats, they won a majority government for the first time since 2000.[43] The Toronto Star claimed the comeback was "headed straight for the history books" and that Harper's name would "forever be joined with that of his Liberal nemesis in Canada’s electoral annals".[44] Spencer McKay for the National Post suggested that "maybe we’ve witnessed a revival of Canada’s 'natural governing party'".[45]

Party funding reform

Funding changes were made to ensure greater reliance on personal contributions. 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 income 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. For the initial disbursement, 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 was asked to refund the difference. 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.[46]

In 2007, news emerged of a funding loophole that "could cumulatively exceed the legal limit by more than $60,000," through anonymous recurrent donations of $200 to every riding of a party from corporations or unions. At the time, for each individual, the legal annual donation limit was $1,100 for each party, $1,100 combined total for each party's associations, and in an election year, an additional $1,100 combined total for each party's candidates. All three limits increase on 1 April every year based on the inflation rate.[47][48][49]


  • Elections
    • House of Commons – direct plurality representation (last election held October 19, 2015)
    • Senate – appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister
  • Election results
 Summary of the 2015 Canadian federal election
Party Party leader Candidates Seats Popular vote
2011 Dissol. Redist.[a] 2015 % change
from 2011
% seats Votes Vote
% pp change % where
Liberal Justin Trudeau 338[b] 34 36 36 184 +441.18% 54.44% 6,943,276 +4,160,101 39.47% +20.56pp 39.47%
Conservative Stephen Harper 338[c] 166 159 188 99 -40.36% 29.29% 5,613,614 −218,787 31.91% −7.73pp 31.91%
New Democratic Tom Mulcair 338 103 95[d] 109 44 -57.28% 13.02% 3,470,350 −1,038,124 19.73% −10.92pp 19.73%
Bloc Québécois Gilles Duceppe 78 4 2 4 10 +150% 2.96% 821,144 −68,644 4.67% −1.38pp 19.36%
Green Elizabeth May 336 1 2[d] 1 1 0% 0.3% 602,944 +26,723 3.43% −0.46pp 3.44%
  Independent and no affiliation 80 0 8 0 0 0 0 49,616 −23,115 0.28% −0.21pp 1.18%
Libertarian Tim Moen 72 0 0 0 0 0 0 36,772 +30,755 0.21% +0.17pp 0.93%
Christian Heritage Rod Taylor 30 0 0 0 0 0 0 15,232 −3,986 0.09% −0.05pp 0.97%
Marxist–Leninist Anna Di Carlo 70 0 0 0 0 0 0 8,838 −1,322 0.05% −0.02pp 0.23%
Strength in Democracy Jean-François Fortin 17 N/A 2[e] N/A 0 0 0 8,274 * 0.05% * 0.90%
Rhinoceros Sébastien Corriveau 27 0 0 0 0 0 0 7,263 +3,444 0.04% +0.01pp 0.52%
Progressive Canadian Sinclair Stevens 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 4,476 −1,362 0.03% −0.01pp 1.03%
Communist Miguel Figueroa 26 0 0 0 0 0 0 4,393 +1,468 0.02% −0.00pp 0.32%
Animal Alliance Liz White 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 1,699 +248 0.01% −0.00pp 0.36%
Marijuana Blair Longley 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 1,557 −307 0.01% −0.00pp 0.34%
Democratic Advancement Stephen Garvey 4 N/A 0 N/A 0 0 0 1,187 * 0.01% * 0.62%
Pirate Roderick Lim 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 908 −2,290 0.01% −0.01pp 0.32%
Canadian Action Jeremy Arney 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 401 −1,629 0.00% −0.01pp 0.24%
Canada Party Jim Pankiw 1 N/A 0 N/A 0 0 0 271 * 0.00% * 0.72%
Seniors Daniel J. Patton 1 N/A N/A N/A 0 0 0 157 * 0.00% * 0.29%
Alliance of the North François Bélanger 1 N/A N/A N/A 0 0 0 136 * 0.00% * 0.22%
Bridge David Berlin 1 N/A 0 N/A 0 0 0 122 * 0.00% * 0.29%
PACT Michael Nicula 1 N/A 0 N/A 0 0 0 91 * 0.00% * 0.17%
United Bob Kesic 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 57 −237 0.00% −0.00pp 0.10%
  Vacant 0 4 0 0 N/A
Total 1,792 308 308 338 338 +9.74% 100% 17,592,778 +2,872,198 100% 100%
Source: Elections Canada (Final results)
  1. ^ The party totals are theoretical. They are the transposition of the 2011 district results redistributed to the new districts formed in 2015.
  2. ^ Includes Liberal candidate Cheryl Thomas from Victoria, who publicly withdrew from the election after the final list of candidates was released and thus remained on the ballot as the Liberal candidate.
  3. ^ Includes Conservative candidate Jagdish Grewal from Mississauga—Malton, who was expelled by the Conservative Party after the final list of candidates was released and thus remained on the ballot as the Conservative candidate.
  4. ^ a b Does not include José Núñez-Melo, an incumbent MP who was denied the NDP nomination in Vimy after the writ was dropped, and subsequently announced he was running as a Green candidate.
  5. ^ Does not include Montcalm MP Manon Perreault, who sat as an independent before the writ was dropped, after which she announced her candidacy for Strength in Democracy.

Political parties, leaders and status

Ordered by number of elected representatives in the House of Commons

Leaders debates

Leaders debates in Canada consist of two debates, one English and one French,[50] both produced by a consortium of Canada's five major television broadcasters (CBC/SRC, CTV, Global and TVA) and usually consist of the leaders of all parties with representation in the House of Commons.

These debates air on the networks of the producing consortium as well as the public affairs and parliamentary channel CPAC and the American public affairs network C-SPAN.


Ottawa - ON - Oberster Gerichtshof von Kanada
The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court in the Canadian justice system.

The highest court in Canada is the Supreme Court of Canada and is the final court of appeal in the Canadian justice system. The court is composed of nine judges: eight Puisne Justices and the Chief Justice of Canada. Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada are appointed by the Governor-in-Council. The Supreme Court Act limits eligibility for appointment to persons who have been judges of a superior court, or members of the bar for ten or more years. Members of the bar or superior judge of Quebec, by law, must hold three of the nine positions on the Supreme Court of Canada.[51]

Government departments and structure

The Canadian government operates the public service using departments, smaller agencies (for example, commissions, tribunals, and boards), and crown corporations. There are two types of departments: central agencies such as Finance, Privy Council Office, and Treasury Board Secretariat have an organizing and oversight role for the entire public service; line departments are departments which perform tasks in a specific area or field, such as the departments of Agriculture, Environment, or Defence.

Scholar Peter Aucoin, writing about the Canadian Westminster system, has raised concerns in the early 2000s about the centralization of power; an increased number, role and influence of partisan-political staff; personal-politicization of appointments to the senior public service; and, the assumption that the public service is promiscuously partisan for the government of the day.[52]


In 1967, Canada established a point-based system to determine if immigrants should be eligible to enter the country, using meritorious qualities such as the applicant's ability to speak both French and English, their level of education, and other details that may be expected of a natural-born Canadian. This system was considered ground-breaking at the time since prior systems were slanted on the basis of ethnicity. However, many foreign nationals still found it challenging to secure work after emigrating, resulting in a higher unemployment rate amongst the immigrant population. After winning power at the 2006 federal election, the Conservative Party sought to curb this issue by placing weight on whether or not the applicant has a standing job offer in Canada. The change has been a source of some contention as opponents argue that businesses use this change to suppress wages, with corporate owners leveraging the knowledge that an immigrant should hold a job to successfully complete the immigration process.[53]

See also


  1. ^ Canadian Law, 6th ed. (Canadian ed.). Nelson Education. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-17-672826-7.
  2. ^ Nathan Tidridge (2011). Canada's Constitutional Monarchy. Dundurn. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-55488-980-8.
  3. ^ "Democracy Index 2017- The Economist Intelligence Unit". eiu.com. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  4. ^ Anne Westhues; Brian Wharf (2014). Canadian Social Policy: Issues and Perspectives. Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press. pp. 10–11. ISBN 978-1-55458-409-3.
  5. ^ James Bickerton; Alain Gagnon (2009). Canadian Politics. University of Toronto Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-4426-0121-5.
  6. ^ David Johnson (2016). Thinking Government: Public Administration and Politics in Canada, Fourth Edition. University of Toronto Press. pp. 13–23. ISBN 978-1-4426-3521-0. most Canadian governments, especially at the federal level, have taken a moderate, centrist approach to decision making, seeking to balance growth, stability, and governmental efficiency and economy...
  7. ^ "Plurality-Majority Electoral Systems: A Review". Elections Canada. First Past the Post in Canada has favoured broadly-based, accommodative, centrist parties...
  8. ^ Amanda Bittner; Royce Koop (1 March 2013). Parties, Elections, and the Future of Canadian Politics. UBC Press. pp. 300–302. ISBN 978-0-7748-2411-8.
  9. ^ Ambrose, Emma; Mudde, Cas (2015). "Canadian Multiculturalism and the Absence of the Far Right". Nationalism and Ethnic Politics. 21 (2): 213–236. doi:10.1080/13537113.2015.1032033.
  10. ^ "Canada's Secret to Resisting the West's Populist Wave". New York Times. 2017.
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Further reading

Political thought

External links

Arctic Council

The Arctic Council is a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic. Eight member countries constitute the council: Canada, Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States as these are the eight countries with sovereignty over the lands within the Arctic Circle. Outside these, there are some observer states.

Canadian Alliance

The Canadian Alliance (French: Alliance canadienne), formally the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance (French: Alliance réformiste-conservatrice canadienne), was a conservative and right-wing populist federal political party in Canada that existed from 2000 to 2003. The party was the successor to the Reform Party of Canada and inherited its position as the Official Opposition in the House of Commons of Canada and held it throughout its existence. The party supported policies that were both fiscally and socially conservative, seeking reduced government spending on social programs and reductions in taxation.

The Alliance was created out of the United Alternative initiative launched by the Reform Party of Canada and several provincial Tory parties as a vehicle to merge with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. The federal Progressive Conservative Party rebuffed the initiative to "unite the right" in the late fall of 1998 when it elected Joe Clark as its leader. In December 2003, the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative parties voted to disband and merge into the Conservative Party of Canada.

Canadian Nazi Party

The Canadian National Socialist Party, known as the Canadian Nazi Party, existed from 1965 to 1978. It was led by William John Beattie.

Canadian administrative law

Canadian administrative law is the body of law that addresses the actions and operations of governments and governmental agencies in Canada. That is, the law concerns the manner in which courts can review the decisions of administrative decision-makers (ADMs) such as a board, tribunal, commission, agency or minister.

The body of law is concerned primarily with issues of substantive review (the determination and application of a standard of review) and with issues of procedural fairness (the enforcement of participatory rights). Administrative law concerns the statutes and rules of government operations. Courts ensure that ADMs observe the limits on the authority. Also, declaration and equitable injunction remedies exist.

Common Ground (memoir)

Common Ground is a 2014 book by Justin Trudeau, the current Prime Minister of Canada. Written while he served as Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Common Ground is a memoir of the experiences that shaped Trudeau from his childhood at 24 Sussex Drive through to his entry to Parliament and leadership of the Liberal Party.

Constitutional debate in Canada

The Constitutional debate of Canada is an ongoing debate covering various political issues regarding the fundamental law of the country. The debate can be traced back to the Royal Proclamation, issued on October 7, 1763, following the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763) wherein France ceded most of New France to Great Britain in favour of keeping Guadeloupe.

Since the enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867, which brought the Province of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia together as Canada, the debate has focused on these issues:

The interpretation of the Constitution

The division of powers between the federal and provincial governments

The type of federalism to be applied within the federation

The way the constitution should be amended

The inclusion of specific civil rights in the constitution

Elections in Canada

Canada holds elections for legislatures or governments in several jurisdictions: nationally (federally), provincially and territorially, and municipally. Elections are also held for self-governing First Nations and for many other public and private organizations including corporations and trade unions. Municipal elections can also be held for both upper-tier (regional municipality or county) and lower-tier (town and city) governments. Formal elections have occurred in Canada since at least 1792, when both Upper Canada and Lower Canada had their first elections.

National voting is available to Canadian citizens aged 18 or older who reside in Canada (residence is no longer a factor in determining participation in voting). Other elections may have citizenship, residency, or ownership requirements (some municipalities allow both residents and non-resident landowners to vote).

Government of Canada

The Government of Canada (French: Gouvernement du Canada), officially Her Majesty's Government (French: Gouvernement de Sa Majesté), is the federal administration of Canada. In Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council. In both senses, the current construct was established at Confederation through the Constitution Act, 1867—as a federal constitutional monarchy, wherein the Canadian Crown acts as the core, or "the most basic building block", of its Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. The Crown is thus the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Canadian government. Further elements of governance are outlined in the rest of the Canadian Constitution, which includes written statutes, court rulings, and unwritten conventions developed over centuries.The monarch (currently Queen Elizabeth II) is personally represented by the Governor General of Canada (currently Julie Payette). The Queen's Privy Council for Canada is the body that advises the sovereign or viceroy on the exercise of executive power. However, in practice, that task is performed only by the Cabinet, a committee within the Privy Council composed of ministers of the Crown, who are drawn from and responsible to the elected House of Commons in parliament. The Cabinet is headed by the prime minister (currently Justin Trudeau), who is appointed by the governor general after securing the confidence of the House of Commons.

Joseph Papineau

Joseph Papineau (October 16, 1752 – July 8, 1841) was a notary, seigneur, and political figure in Lower Canada.

Joseph Papineau was the father of Louis-Joseph Papineau who had the great distinction of being a fiery player in the history of the French dominated British colony called Lower Canada. His other son Denis-Benjamin also played a significant though lesser role in politics of Canada East, serving as joint premier in the Legislative Assembly.

Joseph Père was also a horticulturalist whose estate home at Montebello is a tourist attraction to this day in the province of Québec, Canada. His own contributions to the culture and history of this particular province are recognized to this day with streets, squares and monuments being dedicated to his memory.

His son Louis-Joseph was even more influential in creating a strong Québec identity due to his political activities. The involvement of Louis-Joseph Papineau and Ezekiel Hart is responsible for Jews being granted full citizen rights in any territory or nation several decades before many other countries followed suit. This may be among his most important contribution to pre-Confederation Canadian history. (The first Jewish synagogues had opened in Montreal after the British Conquest of 1760.)

Lament for a Nation

Lament for a Nation is a 1965 essay of political philosophy by Canadian philosopher George Grant. The essay examined the political fate of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker's Progressive Conservative government in light of its refusal to allow nuclear arms on Canadian soil and the Liberal Party's political acceptance of the warheads. The book became a bestseller and "inspired a surge of nationalist feeling" in Canada, evident in its recognition as one of The Literary Review of Canada's 100 most important Canadian books in 2005.Although grounded in the particular examination of Diefenbaker's fate in the 1963 federal election, the analysis transcended Canadian politics, studying Canadian and US national foundations, Conservatism in the UK and North America, Canada's dual nature as a French and English nation, the fate of Western Enlightenment, and the philosophical analysis of citizenship in modern democracies.

List of political parties in Canada

This article lists political parties in Canada.

Minority governments in Canada

In Canada's parliamentary system of responsible government, minority governments occur when no party has a majority of seats in the legislature. Typically, but not necessarily, the party with a plurality of seats forms the government. In a minority situation, governments must rely on the support of other parties to stay in power, providing less stability than a majority government. In Canada, political parties rarely form official coalition governments to form a majority.

Canada's plurality voting system means that minority governments are relatively rare in comparison with countries that have a proportional representation voting system. There have, however, been several minority governments at the federal level and in nine of Canada's 10 provinces at various times.

Opposition House Leader

The Leader of the Official Opposition in the House of Commons, more commonly known as the Opposition House Leader (French: Chef de la Chambre d'Opposition), is a member of the Official Opposition, not to be confused with the Leader of the Official Opposition, but is generally a senior member of the frontbench. The House Leader is responsible for questioning the Government House Leader on the forthcoming business of the House of Commons, negotiating with the Government House Leader and other parties' house leaders on the progress of business in the House, and managing the Official Opposition's business in the House of Commons.

The position of Opposition House Leader evolved in the 1950s as each Opposition party began to designate a particular MP to question the Government House Leader on upcoming House business. The title of Opposition House Leader became official in 1963, and in 1974, a special annual indemnity was attached to the position of House Leader in each of the opposition parties. The House Leader also coordinates the Official Opposition's floor strategy, often with the House Leaders of smaller Opposition parties. The position is particularly important when there is a minority government, or a government with a slim majority, which may be defeated by a Non-confidence vote if all Opposition parties work together.

Notable Opposition House Leaders include Herb Gray of the Liberal Party (also a Government House Leader) and Erik Nielsen of the Progressive Conservative Party.

Notable third party House Leaders include Stanley Knowles who was the House Leader for the NDP from 1962 to 1981, and Bill Blaikie (1996-2003).

Political culture of Canada

The political culture of Canada is in some ways part of a greater North American and European political culture, which emphasizes constitutional law, freedom of religion, personal liberty, and regional autonomy; these ideas stemming in various degrees from the British common law and French civil law traditions, North American aboriginal government, and English civic traditions, among others.

Canada has a tradition of liberalism in the centrist context, as far-right and far-left politics have never been a prominent force in Canadian society. Peace, order, and good government are stated goals of the Canadian government. Individual rights, equality and inclusiveness (a just society) have risen to the forefront of political and legal importance for most Canadians, as demonstrated through support for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a relatively free economy, and social liberal attitudes toward homosexuality, women's rights, and other egalitarian movements. However, there is also a sense of collective responsibility in Canadian political culture, as is demonstrated in general support for universal health care, multiculturalism, gun control, foreign aid, and other social programs.Canada has been dominated by two parties, the centre-left Liberal Party of Canada and the centre-right Conservative Party of Canada. The historically predominant Liberals position themselves at the center of the political scale with the Conservatives sitting on the right and the New Democratic Party occupying the left-wing. Smaller parties like the Quebec nationalist Bloc Québécois and the Green Party of Canada have also been able to exert their influence over the political process by representation at the federal level.

Rideau Club

The Rideau Club is a noted social club in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1865 by John A. Macdonald, it was created two years before Canada confederated as a nation. It was originally located near the Parliament Buildings and was the meeting place both for Canada's political elite, and the city of Ottawa’s social and business elite. It is a members-only club.

The club building, located for years across the street from the Parliament Buildings, burned down in October 1979. The club is now located on the top floor of a downtown office tower on Bank Street. At the time of the fire, the Canadian Government was attempting to expropriate the club's property to serve as part of a future US embassy.

It was reported to be the first club in Canada (and one of the first in North America) to disallow the use of the blackball tradition which allowed clubs to subtly discriminate against potential Jewish members.

Similarly, in the 1970s, after seeing controversy over its all male policy, the club allowed female members and at the same time removed restrictions on female guests. There is a portrait of the first female member, Jean Pigott, in one of the event rooms. She was accepted to the Rideau Club in 1979, the same year as the fire.

Each room on the south side of the club is dedicated to a significant person in Canadian history. Most are named after former Prime Ministers, but one is named after Yousuf Karsh. It is filled with famous portraits taken by him and left to the Rideau Club after his death.

Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing

The Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing is a Canadian literary award, presented by the Writers' Trust of Canada to the best nonfiction book on Canadian political and social issues. It has been presented annually in Ottawa at the Writers’ Trust Politics and the Pen gala since 2000. It had a dollar value in 2015 of CDN$25,000

The prize was established in honour of Shaughnessy Cohen (February 11, 1948 - December 9, 1998), an outspoken and popular Liberal Member of Parliament from Windsor, Ontario who died after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage in the House of Commons of Canada just seconds after standing to address her peers. The award is sponsored by CN.

Social programs in Canada

Social programs in Canada include all government programs designed to give assistance to citizens outside what the market provides. The Canadian social safety net covers a broad spectrum of programs, and because Canada is a federation, many are run by the provinces. Canada has a wide range of government transfer payments to individuals, which totaled $176.6 billion in 2009. Only social programs that direct funds to individuals are included in that cost; programs such as medicare and public education are additional costs.

The Patriot Game (book)

The Patriot Game: National Dreams and Political Realities is a book originally published in 1986 by British-American author Peter Brimelow. It was later re-released in 1988 under the title The Patriot Game: Canada and the Canadian Question Revisited.

The book consists of Brimelow's self-described attempt to "provide a general theory of Canada," the country in which he had lived and worked for several years in the 1970s. In it, he consciously echoes the comments of 19th century author Goldwin Smith in his book Canada and the Canadian Question and argues that modern Canada is largely a farce, an unnatural country without a clear guiding purpose or reason for existence.

Brimelow attributes that to the decline of English Canadian imperial nationalism, common during the Victorian times and the first decades of the 20th century but subsequently removed from the national consciousness in the post-World War II era. In the place of this old form of nationalism, he writes that Canada has come to be dominated by the partisan nationalism of the Liberal Party of Canada that seeks to redefine Canadian values according to its own political philosophy.

Brimelow is also harshly critical of Quebec's role in modern Canada, and expresses support for Quebec separatism, arguing that there is no rational basis for keeping the French-speaking province in an overwhelmingly English-speaking state. He criticizes Liberal leader Pierre Trudeau for introducing bilingualism, which he portrays as an ill-conceived scheme which has created a new bilingual class of governing elites and kept the vast majority of English-speaking Canadians virtually disenfranchised.

The book is notable in that it successfully predicted two of the major shakeups of the Canadian political system that occurred in the 1990s. Arguing that the political status quo of the 1980s was inherently unstable, Brimelow predicted that sooner or later Canada would see the rise of two new federal political parties, one a right-wing, western-based one, and the other a Quebec-based separatist one. That indeed proved to happen with the rise of the Reform Party and the Bloc Québécois, both of which captured a great number of parliamentary seats in the 1993 federal election coming 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Brimelow also predicted that western Canadian separatism was likely to emerge as a vibrant political force in the coming decades, but this prediction has not shown signs of coming true. Instead, Western Canadians led by the prime minister, Stephen Harper, have dominated the federal Conservative Party and won the 2006, 2008, and 2011 federal elections.

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