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Structure of the Canadian Federal Government

Origins of the Federal Government Branches of the Federal Government Structure of the Federal Government

Origins of the Canadian Federal Government


Stems from British traditions and their system of government Developed from the British Colonial Governments Is a federal system of government responsible for matters vital to the people Constitutional Monarchy Representative and responsible governing body

Branches of the Canadian Federal Government

Branches of the Canadian Federal Government

The Executive Branch The Legislative Branch The Judicial Branch

The Executive Branch


Is the branch of the Federal Government that makes decisions on behalf of the citizens of Canada Executes decisions and acts on behalf of the people of Canada Administers decisions through the civil service (public sector)

The Legislative Branch


Is the branch of the Federal Government that has the power to make laws and amend laws Decides and debates which proposed bills (legislation) become law Once the proposed bill has passed debate in both the Senate and the House of Commons, it is signed by the Governor General to officially become law

The Judicial Branch


Is the branch of the Federal Government that enforces and upholds the laws Is separate from the other branches of Government to ensure that the Government acts in accordance with the Constitution and the laws of the land Decides who has broken the law and how they are to be punished Composed of the Supreme Court and Provincial Courts

What is a Constitutional Monarchy?


Canada is a constitutional monarchy This means that Canada is governed (controlled) by a constitution (legal documents of rules and laws) as well as the reigning monarch of Britain The Queen acts as the head of state for Canada and signs all legislation into law Ideally, it is the government, under the guidance and direction of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, that actually oversees the governing of Canada

The Structure of the Canadian Federal Government


The Government of Canada is organized into three branches: executive, legislative and judicial The head of state for Canada is Queen Elizabeth II The Queen is represented by the Governor General who takes on the daily responsibilities of the Queen The Prime Minister is the elected representative for Canada and acts essentially as the CEO of Canada

The Queen
Queen Elizabeth II Serves a symbolic role and carries out ceremonial duties Gives Royal assent to bills to enact them into law Is represented by the Governor General

The Governor General


Chosen by the Queen on recommendation by the Prime Minister The current Governor General is the Right Honourable David Johnston The Governor General is the Queens representative The Governor General provides formal assent to transform bills into law Performs ceremonial functions on behalf of the Queen and the country

The Prime Minister


Leader of the Federal Government The current Prime Minister is the Right Honourable Stephen Harper Serves as the head of the Federal Government, leader of Canada, as well as the party leader Selects a Cabinet to represent the various Government departments

The Cabinet

Composed of elected party members selected by the Prime Minister Each member of the Cabinet is designated responsible for a particular department The selection of the Cabinet attempts to balance cultural, linguistic, and social diversity considerations Cabinet Ministers are responsible for the efficient operation of their specified department Cabinet members must display full support for their leader and the decisions of Government- this is called cabinet solidarity

The House Of Commons


Also referred to as the Lower House Currently composed of 308 elected members Elections for seats in the House of Commons every 5 years The total number of seats in the House of Commons depends upon the population of Canada House of Commons debates bills and votes on issues Debates are controlled by the Speaker of the House In the House of Commons members sit with their parties The Government sits on one side of the House and the Opposition parties sit on the other side The Opposition party is responsible for being critical of the Government

The Senate
The Senate is composed of members that are appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister The Senate is comprised of 105 Senators who represent the various regions of Canada The Senate can initiate any bills except those that deal with taxation or expenditure The Senate can amend or reject any bill and provides the final review of any bill that has been passed in the House of Commons No bill can become law until it has passed the Senate

The Supreme Court


The Supreme Court is the highest court in the country

Differences between the Canadian Government and the American


Canada is a two official languages- whereas the United States has one Canada is a constitutional monarchy and the United States is a republic Canada has a parliamentary-cabinet government and the U.S. has a presidential-congressional government That is, in the United States the President is head of the country and the head of the government In Canada, the Queen or Governor General is the figurehead of the country and the Prime Minister is the head of the government In the U.S., the President is separate from both Houses (Congress & Senate) whereas, in Canada the Prime Minister is a member of the House of Commons and therefore power is concentrated not separated

Selecting a Cabinet
Upon winning the election, one of the first tasks of the Prime Minister is to select his/her Cabinet The selection of the cabinet is no easy task- there are a multitude of decisions to be made The Prime Minister has to take into account several considerations when deciding who will be in his/her Cabinet The Prime Minister attempts to balance these considerations in selecting people to head each department Some positions in the Cabinet are allocated on the basis of expertise and merit and some Cabinet positions are awarded out of patronage

Criteria for selecting Cabinet Ministers


Regional considerations Linguistic considerations Cultural considerations Expertise and background considerations

Patronage (Favours)

Passing a Bill
What is a bill? A bill is an idea to make a new law or change an existing law. There are several stages that a bill goes through in order to become a law The First Reading- occurs in the House of Commons where a bill is read out for the first time and the idea is officially written down and recorded The Second Reading- Members of the House of Commons debate the principle of the bill- Is is sound? Does it meet peoples needs? If the bill passes the second reading and vote then it is sent to a special House Committee who reviews and edits proposed bill The bill returns to the House of Commons for the Report stage where members debate the bill and make other amendments The Third Reading- Members debate the bill and vote- if bill passes, it is sent onto the Senate where it undergoes a similar process of three more readings.

The House of Commons

How is the federal government formed?


The federal government is formed based upon the voting in a national general election The party that wins the most seats (electoral districts or ridings) forms the government The party that has the second most amount of seats form the official opposition The type of government (majority/minority/coalition) depends upon the number of seats that the winning party secures in the election

Minority Government
Occurs when no single political party has a clear majority of MPs in the House of Commons The political party with the most MPs, nevertheless, may decide to form the government on its own. This is called a minority government because the governing political party only has a minority (less than 50%) of MPs in the legislature. A minority government governs much differently than a majority government: because it does not have a clear majority in the House, the government cannot simply use party discipline to guarantee support in the legislature. Instead, it must negotiate with opposition parties to gain their support for government legislation.

Majority Government
A majority government is the most common form of government in Canada where a single political party has more than half of all the MPs in the House. Because the government has a clear majority, it is referred to as a "majority government." In such governments, the Prime Minister and Cabinet have an incredible amount of control over the government policy and direction. S/he can enact whatever policy they like, and then exercise party discipline to ensure that those policies are supported in the House (and enacted into law). Majority governments are more efficient in legislating law and enacting policies The only threat to such a government is internal dissent and a revolt by the governing party's own MPs (which rarely occurs in Canadian politics).

Coalition Government
A coalition government is formed when two or more political parties (with a combined majority in the House) enter into a formal agreement to form the government together. While both coalition and minority governments can result from situations in which no single political party has a clear majority of MPs in the House, the two should not be confused. In minority governments, a single political party forms the government alone and then seeks informal cooperation with opposition political parties. In coalition governments, two or more political parties enter into a long-term agreement to form the government together, to the exclusion of all other parties in the legislature.