The politics of Canada take place in a structure of a parliamentary democracy and a federal system of parliamentary
government with strong democratic customs.
Canada’s form of government is a constitutional monarchy, with the Monarch as head of state.
The country has a multi-party system where a number of its legislative practices originate from the traditional
conventions of and models set by the Westminster Parliament, even though Canada has changed distinctions: party
regulation in Canada is stronger than it is in the United Kingdom and more parliamentary votes are seen as motions of
confidence, which often reduces the role of non-Cabinet Members of Parliament (MPs).
Such members, in the government committee, and junior or lower-profile members of opposition groups, are called
backbenchers, who can exercise their power by sitting in parliamentary commissions, such as the Public Accounts
Committee or the National Defence Committee.
The two biggest political parties of Canada have traditionally been the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative
Party of Canada (or its predecessors), though the social democratic New Democratic Party (NDP), as of the 2011 federal
election, has become prominent in Canadian politics; this prominence reflects a notable decline in the Liberal Party’s
Smaller parties, like the Quebec Bloc Québécois and the Green Party of Canada, can exercise their own power over the
Government: Federal parliamentary constitutional
Monarch: Elizabeth II (see Politics of the United
Kingdom slide 13)
Governor General: David Johnston
Prime Minister: Stephen Harper
Chief Justice: Beverley McLachlin
Upper house: Senate
Lower house: House of Commons
Born on June 28, 1941 in Greater Sudbury, Ontario.
Canadian academic, author, and statesman, and the 28th and
current Governor General of Canada since October 1, 2010.
Was born and raised in Ontario, and studied there before he
enrolled at Harvard University and subsequently Cambridge and
Later worked as a professor at various post-secondary institutes in
Canada; later served administrative roles as dean of law at the
University of Western Ontario, principal of McGill University,
and president of the University of Waterloo; participated, at the
same time, in politics and public service, presiding over political
debates and heading committees in both the central and local
spheres, with his most prominent post in that field being the
chairmanship of the investigation into the Airbus affair.
Was appointed governor general in 2010 by Queen Elizabeth II,
on the proposal of PM of Canada Stephen Harper, to replace
Michaëlle Jean as viceroy; Johnston, at the time, was mostly
respected as an admirable choice for the Queen’s delegate,
despite objection to his appointment by some Quebec
As governor general, he is permitted to be addressed as His
Excellency while in office and The Right Honourable for the period
of his viceregal term and beyond.
Given current practice, he will become a member of the Queen’s
Privy Council for Canada when his term as the Queen’s delegate
Born on April 30, 1959 in Toronto, Ontario.
22nd and current PM of Canada since February 6, 2006, having won the 2006
federal election and forming a minority government; also the current leader of
the Conservative Party.
First PM to come from the recently reconstituted Conservative Party, which
emerged upon a merger of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian
Has represented the riding (electoral district) of Calgary Southwest as an MP
Also served as the MP for Calgary West from 1993-1997.
Was one of the Reform Party’s founding members, but chose not to run for re-
election in the 1997 federal election; instead joined and subsequently led the
National Citizens Coalition, a conservative lobbyist group.
Succeeded Stockwell Day as leader of the Canadian Alliance (the Reform Party’s
successor) in 2002, and returned to parliament as Leader of the Opposition.
Came to an agreement with Progressive Conservative leader Peter MacKay in
2003 for the merger of their two parties to found the Conservative Party of
Canada; was elected as the new party’s first non-acting leader in March 2004.
His Conservative Party won a larger minority in the October 2008 federal
election, which indicated a small increase in the percentage of the popular vote
and bigger representation in the Canadian House of Commons, gaining 143 of 308
The 40th Canadian Parliament was dissolved in March 2011, after his government’s
unsuccessful vote of no confidence on the issue of the Cabinet being in contempt
His party won a majority government, the first since the 2000 federal election, in
the May 2011 federal election, and won 166 seats, an increase of 23 seats from the
October 2008 election.
Born Beverley Gietz on September 7, 1943 in Pincher Creek,
17th and current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of
Canada since 7 January 2000, and the first woman to hold
Also serves as a Deputy of the Governor General of Canada.
Oldest child of Eleanora Marian (née Kruschell) and Ernest
Gietz; they were of German ancestry, were “fundamentalist
Obtained a B.A. and an M.A. in philosophy and an LL.B.
degree; won the gold medal as top student and served as
Editor-in-Chief of the Alberta Law Review from the
University of Alberta.
Was called to the Bar of Alberta in 1969 and to the Bar of
British Columbia in 1971.
Practiced law from 1969-1975.
Was an Associate Professor and Professor with tenure at
the University of British Columbia from 1974-1981.
Has one son from her first marriage to Roderick
McLachlin, who died in 1988; she remarried in 1992 to
House of Commons:
New Democratic (99)
Bloc Québécois (4)
Progressive Conservative (1)
Other recognized parties:
Animal Alliance-Environment Voters
Political party in Canada that was founded through the merger of
the Canadian Alliance (once the Reform Party of Canada) and the
Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (informally known as
the Tories) in 2003.
Led by PM Stephen Harper.
Leans right on the Canadian political spectrum.
Came to power when it won the 2006 federal election as a
minority government, a position it kept after the 2008 federal
election, prior to winning its first majority government in May
Member of International Democrat Union, Asia Pacific Democrat
Union, and Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists.
Major social democratic federal political party in Canada.
Its current leader is Thomas Mulcair, elected in the 2012
Founded in 1961 as a result of the merger of the Co-operative
Commonwealth Federation (CCF) with the Canadian Labour
Its local wing in Manitoba currently makes up the government in
Local parties have in the past made up governments in British
Columbia (1972-1975, 1991-2001), Nova Scotia (2009-2013),
Ontario (1990-1995), and Saskatchewan (1971-1982, 1991-2007),
while the territorial party made up the government in Yukon (the
only territory that has a partisan legislature) from 1985-1992 and
Won the second-biggest number of seats in the Canadian House
of Commons in the 2011 federal election under Jack Layton; this
victory the NDP the title of Official Opposition for the first time
in Canada’s history.
Unofficially known as the Grits.
Canada’s oldest federal political party.
Advocates the standards of liberalism, and usually positions itself at
the centre of Canada’s political spectrum.
Has traditionally been positioned to the left of the Conservative
Party of Canada and to the right of the New Democratic Party
Governed federal politics for a large part of Canadian history; was in
power for nearly 69 years in the 20th century – more than any other
party in a developed country – which led to it occasionally being
known as Canada’s “natural governing party”.
Universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan, Canada Student
Loans, peacekeeping, multilateralism, official bilingualism, official
multiculturalism, patriating the Canadian constitution, and the
entrenchment of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the
Clarity Act, restoring balanced budgets in the 1990s, and legalizing
same-sex marriage nationwide are among its signature policies and
Has nevertheless, to the advantage of both the Conservative Party
and the New Democratic Party, lost a considerable amount of
support over the past decade.
Had its worst result in its history during the 2011 Canadian federal
election; only won 19% of the popular vote and 34 seats, making it,
for the first time, the third-place party in the House of Commons.