The Canadian Government

Our Head of State:

The Monarch: Queen Elizabeth II

  • Ascended to the throne on February 6, 1952
  • Oversees all three branches of government both federally and provincially
  • Performs important ceremonial duties when visiting Canada

Federal Government

Governor General

David Johnston - 28th Governor General since confederation, assumed office on October 1, 2010

  • The governor general is appointed by the monarch of Canada on the recommendation of the prime minister.

  • They typically serve for 4-5 years, but there is no official term limits.

  • He ensures that the prime minister and government have the confidence of the parliament (51% or more members of the House of Commons).

What does he do?

  • He is the representative of the Queen of Canada.

  • Reading the Speech from the Throne which outlines the Canadian federal government agenda for a new session of Parliament.

  • Signs bills into laws (called royal assent)

  • Appointing superior court judges, on the advice of cabinet.

  • Summoning and closing Parliament on the advice of the Prime Minister.

  • Inviting the leader of the party with the most support in the House of Commons to form the government. That party leader becomes Prime Minister.

  • Receiving and sending ambassadors.

Prime Minister

Steven Harper - 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada

Leader of the Conservative Party

  • Sworn in on February 6, 2006

    • The prime minister is the head of government of Canada
    • Most powerful role of Canada

    • Head of the executive branch of the Canadian federal government.

    • Leader of political party gets chosen to be prime minster (majority)

    • The prime minister is the chief minister and effective head of the executive in a parliamentary system

    • PM controls the agenda and discussions at meetings and selects the members of Cabinet committee

    • Has special relationship with crown


    • 39 members of the Cabinet
    • Direct the government's policy and make decisions about national issues
    • Cabinet members look after departments (Finance, Justice, Health, Defence)
    • Ministers presents bills from their governmental departments - other cabinet members examine the bill, especially the costs, and recommends to the minister whether the bill should proceed to Parliament or changes that should be made

    House of Commons

    • Collaborates with the Queen and Senate to make laws
    • Debates and votes on bills
    • Discuss national issues
    • Made up of elected representatives - Members of Parliament
    • 308 MPs, depending on the number of constituencies, or ridings, of Canada

    MPs and Opposition

    • MPs represent the people of their community and their opinions
    • They debate and vote on bills and motions
    • The Members of MPs per province/territory depends on the population

    • Each MP represents his/her riding - (Riding: Geographical division of land based on population which is represented by 1 MP per approximately 122 000 people)

    • MPs discuss and debate issues of public interest

    • Mississauga, Streetsville - Brad Butt


    • Leader of the Opposition is usually the leader of the party with the second-most seats in the HoC
    • Current leader of the opposition: Thomas Muclair
    • Keeps the government accountable, critiques government policy

    Speaker of the House

    • Andrew Scheer - June 2, 2011
    • Elected by the members of the House of Commons
    • Has authority over members of the House of Commons
    • Is an MP (voted by other MPs) to act as a referee to enforce rules of parliamentary debate
    • Expected to be non-partisan (not in favor of any party)
    • MPs may not speak directly to one another in the House of Commons. They must address their remarks through the speaker.

    Question Period

    • Every sitting day at the Canadian House of Commons, generally 45 minutes long
    • To seek information from the government and call it into account for its actions
    • Questions are posed to the Prime Minister or Cabinet Ministers



    • The senate is a component of the parliament of Canada along with the house of commons, and the monarch

    • Prime Minister recommends the names of senators to be appointed by the Governor General

    • There are many requirements to become a senator and those requirements are that you have to be a Canadian citizen, you need to be at least 30 years old, you must have your own property in your province or territory, and live in the province or territory that you will represent as a senator
    • Usually 105 members of the senate

    What does the senate do?

    • The Senate carefully examines bills, which are proposed laws

    • The Senate studies, amends, and either rejects or approves bills passed in the house of commons

    • No bill can become a law until it is passed by the Senate

    • Can propose own bills but not where they are spending public money or impose taxes

    • One of the duties of the Senate is to represent the interests of Canada’s regions, provinces, territories and minority groups

    • The bills are studied to find out how they might affect the daily lives of Canadians also some bills may even be rejected

    Judicial Branch


    • Includes all courts and judges in Canada

    • Juries are made up of citizens who are selected and processed


    • Operates independently from the other branches of government

    • Interpret and applies the law

    • Handles cases in intellectual property; disputes between the provinces and territories; citizenship appeals; Competition Act (cases involving federal Crown corporations or departments of the government of Canada)

    Supreme Court of Canada:

    • Highest court in Canada

    • Court of last appeal (if you are appealing your case, the Supreme Court is your last stop), its decisions are final

    • Consists of a chief justice and eight other judges (3 from Quebec) appointed by the PM

    • Upon request, the SC may review the criminal or civil law decision of a lower court and interpret the constitution

    Provincial Government

    Lieutenant Governor

    Elizabeth Dowdeswell - Ontario's 29th Lieutenant Governor, appointed on September 23, 2014

    • Represents the monarch in each province
    • Appointed by the Prime Minister (usually for a 5 year term)
    • Signs provincial bills into law
    • Reads Speech from the Throne
    • Promotes the province


    Kathleen Wynne - Ontario's 25th Premier and first woman to serve in this role

    Leader of the Liberal Party

  • Became premier in 2013

    • Head of the executive branch of Ontario's government
    • Controls the agenda and discussions at meetings and selects the members of Cabinet committee

    • Has special relationship with crown

    • Territories also have premiers (Yukon: premier represents elected political party, in NWT and Nunavut, a non-partisan (not affiliated with any political party) council selects premiers.

    Legislative Assembly

    • Each province has a legislative assembly (similar to the House of Commons)

    • Known as MLA’s (Members of the Legislative Assembly). In Quebec called MNAs (Members of National Assembly) and in Ontario called MPPs (Members of Provincial Parliament)

    • Does not have a senate

    • Elected members from each province/territories

    • Debate and pass laws

    • The MPP for Mississauga-Streetsville is Bob Delaney (Liberal)

    Judicial Branch

    • Each province/territory has courts to enforce federal and provincial laws in criminal and civil issues
    • Each province/territory has a court of appeal which can review the decision of a lower court and interpret the constitution

    Provincial Supreme Court

    • Criminal Court
    • Civil Court