Canada’s Federal Political System
There are three branches to the Canadian Federal Political
System. Each branch has power to perform certain
The three branches of the Canadian federal Government are:
The Legislative: The power to make the laws
The Executive: The power to govern a country according to
The Judicial: The power to judge and interpret laws
The Prime Minister is the
head of Canada’s
To become Prime Minister,
you must be elected as the
leader of a political party.
Then, you must be elected
as a member of parliament,
and the party you lead
must win the most seats in
the House of Commons.
Technically you do not vote
for the Prime Minister
(P.M.), you vote for the M.P.
in your area whose party
you want to win.
Who is the Current
THE PRIME MINISTER
Who was the PM before
The cabinet includes the people with responsibility for different
government departments and agencies — or portfolios — such as
health, finance and environment. The members of cabinet belong to the
leading political party in the House of Commons, and are members of
parliament (M.P.s) or senators.
• The members of cabinet are called cabinet ministers.
• The P.M. decides what portfolios to include in the cabinet and chooses
• The cabinet proposes most of the ideas that become laws.
• The P.M. and the cabinet run the day-to-day business of government. For
example, the Minister of Environment runs the department of the
environment, which has staff and equipment to, among other things,
keep track of air pollution.
1. Who is included in the executive branch of the Federal government in
2. The Prime Minister is a government leader, a national leader, and a party
leader. Give 2 examples of what a Prime Minister does.
3. What does a Cabinet Minister do as the head of a government
What does the legislative branch do?
The legislative branch includes the House of Commons, the Senate and
the governor general. The legislative branch is also called Canada’s
THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
THE HOUSE OF COMMONS
The House of Commons is the
major law-making body in
Canada’s federal political
• The members of the House of
Commons debate study and
vote on laws proposed for
Canada, called bills
• Members of parliament, or
M.P.s, are the members of the
House of Commons. They
are elected by the voters.
• Each M.P represents the
voters of one riding, or
• Most M.P.s belong to political
parties. The party with the
most M.Ps usually forms the
government. The other
parties form the opposition.
• Representation in the House
of Commons is by
• All proceedings of the
legislative branch are in
Canada’s two official
languages: French and
• The members of Canada’s Senate are called senators.
• All proceedings of the Senate are in French and English.
• Senators are not elected. The prime minister appoints them.
They can remain in office until age 75. Prime ministers tend
to appoint people who support the P.M.’s political party.
Since only a few Senate seats become vacant at a time,
however, the Senate includes people from a variety of
• The Senate has the power to reject bills from the House of
Commons, but rarely uses this power.
• The Senate cannot propose laws that create or spend taxes.
• A bill cannot become law until both the House of Commons
and Senate pass it.
• Senators represent the interests and rights of Canada’s regions,
and especially Canada’s minorities. Senators are appointed by
“division,” or region. At Confederation in 1867, the constitution
identified three regions: the Maritimes, Ontario and Québec. The
idea was to ensure that these regions had an equal voice in the
Senate, and to ensure that Québec’s Francophone population — a
minority within Canada — had a strong voice within Canada. As
provinces and territories joined Canada, new regions were added
to the divisions for appointing senators.
• The Senate can propose laws, but usually only considers bills
passed first by the House of Commons. The Senate gives careful
reconsideration to all legislation proposed for Canada. This
means senators provide a second round of study, debate and
voting on laws proposed for Canada. Because the Senate
provides a voice for regions in Canada, it brings a different
perspective to issues that concern everyone.
Who can become a member of the House of Commons? What is the duty of
a Member of Parliament?
Who is the opposition? What is the role of the opposition?
Who is the current leader of the
THE JUDICIAL BRANCH
The Judicial Branch is the part of the government that
interprets laws and applies the law by making legal
judgments. The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest
level of court in Canada which also makes it the highest
level of the Judicial Branch. Those who work in the
Judicial Branch must be trained in the law profession.
The Judicial branch is not connected to the executive or
legislative branch so that the judicial branch is not
influenced by the other two. The main job of the judicial
branch is to protect Canadians rights and freedoms. They
deal with issues regarding intolerance, equality,
discrimination, the criminal process and social questions.
They have an odd number of judges, nine, so that they
don’t come to a stalemate in regards to a decision.