Government of Canada

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Government of Canada
French: Gouvernement du Canada
Canada wordmark.svg
Government of Canada wordmark
Overview
EstablishedJuly 1, 1867 (1867-07-01)
CountryFlag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada
Leader Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau
Appointed by Governor General
Mary Simon
Main organ Privy Council (de jure)
Cabinet (de facto)
Responsible to House of Commons
Headquarters Ottawa
Website canada.ca

The Government of Canada (French : Gouvernement du Canada) is the body responsible for the federal administration of Canada. The term Government of Canada refers specifically to the executive, which includes ministers of the Crown (together in the Cabinet) and the federal civil service (whom the Cabinet direct); it is alternatively known as His Majesty's Government (French: Gouvernement de Sa Majesté) and is corporately branded as the Government of Canada. [1] [2] There are over 100 departments and agencies, as well as over 300,000 persons employed in the Government of Canada. These institutions carry out the programs and enforce the laws established by the Parliament of Canada.

Contents

The federal government's organization and structure was established at Confederation, through the Constitution Act, 1867, wherein the Canadian Crown acts as the core, or "the most basic building block", [3] of its Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. [4] The monarch, King  Charles III is head of state and is personally represented by a governor general (currently Mary Simon). A prime minister (currently Justin Trudeau) is the head of government, who is invited by the Crown to form a government after securing the confidence of the House of Commons, which is typically determined through the election of enough members of a single political party in a federal election to provide a majority of seats in Parliament, forming a governing party. Further elements of governance are outlined in the rest of the Canadian constitution, which includes written statutes in addition to court rulings and unwritten conventions developed over centuries. [5]

Constitutionally, the King's Privy Council for Canada is the body that advises the sovereign or their representative on the exercise of executive power. This task is carried out nearly exclusively by the Cabinet, which functions as the executive committee of the Privy Council that sets the government's policies and priorities for the country [6] and is chaired by the prime minister. The sovereign appoints the members of Cabinet on the advice of the prime minister who, by convention, are generally selected primarily from the House of Commons (although often include a limited number of members from the Senate). During its term, the government must retain the confidence of the House of Commons and certain important motions, such as money bills and the speech from the throne, are considered as confidence motions. Laws are formed by the passage of bills through Parliament, which are either sponsored by the government or individual members of Parliament. Once a bill has been approved by both the House of Commons and the Senate, royal assent is required to make the bill become law. The laws are then the responsibility of the government to oversee and enforce.

Terminology

Under Canada's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy, the terms government and Government of Canada refer specifically to the prime minister, Cabinet, and other members of the governing party inside the House of Commons, but typically includes the federal public service and federal departments and agencies when used elsewhere. [7] This differs from the United States, where the executive branch is referred to as an administration and the federal government encompasses executive, legislative, and judicial powers, similar to the Canadian Crown.

In press releases issued by federal departments, the government has sometimes been referred to as the current prime minister's government (e.g. the Trudeau Government). This terminology has been commonly employed in the media. [8] In late 2010, an informal instruction from the Office of the Prime Minister urged government departments to consistently use, in all department communications, such phrasing (i.e., Harper Government, at the time), in place of Government of Canada. [9] The same Cabinet earlier directed its press department to use the phrase Canada's New Government. [8]

Role of the Crown

King Charles III (July 2023).jpg
Charles III, King of Canada, the country's head of state
Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada.jpg
Mary Simon, Governor General of Canada, the monarch's representative

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, wherein the role of the reigning sovereign is both legal and practical, but not political. [10] The monarch is vested with all powers of state [11] and sits at the centre of a construct in which the power of the whole is shared by multiple institutions of government acting under the sovereign's authority. [12] [13] [14] [15] The executive is thus formally referred to as the King-in-Council. [16]

On the advice of the Canadian prime minister, the sovereign appoints a federal viceregal representative—the governor general (currently Mary Simon)—who, since 1947, is permitted to exercise almost all of the monarch's royal prerogative; though, there are some duties which must be specifically performed by the monarch themselves (such as assent of certain bills). In case of the governor general's absence or incapacitation, the administrator of Canada performs the Crown's most basic functions.

As part of the royal prerogative, the royal sign-manual gives authority to letters patent and orders-in-Council. Much of the royal prerogative is only exercised in-council, meaning on the advice of the King's Privy Council for Canada (ministers of the Crown formed in Cabinet in conventional practice); [17] [18] within the conventional stipulations of a constitutional monarchy, the sovereign's direct participation in any of these areas of governance is limited. [19] [20]

Prime Minister and Cabinet

Government of Canada signature.svg
Canada wordmark.svg
The Government of Canada signature (above) and wordmark (below); used to corporately identify the government under the Federal Identity Program

The term Government of Canada, or more formally, His Majesty's Government refers to the activities of the King-in-Council. The day-to-day operation and activities of the Government of Canada are performed by the federal departments and agencies, staffed by the Public Service of Canada, and the Canadian Armed Forces.

Prime minister

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister and head of government Trudeau visit White House for USMCA (cropped).jpg
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister and head of government

One of the main duties of the Crown is to ensure that a democratic government is always in place, [21] which includes the appointment of a prime minister, who heads the Cabinet and directs the activities of the government. [22] Not outlined in any constitutional document, the office exists in long-established convention, which stipulates the Crown must select as prime minister the person most likely to command the confidence of the elected House of Commons, who, in practice, is typically the leader of the political party that holds more seats than any other party in that chamber (currently the Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau). Should no particular party hold a majority in the House of Commons, the leader of one party—either the party with the most seats or one supported by other parties—will be called by the governor general to form a minority government. Once sworn in, the prime minister holds office until their resignation or removal by the governor general, after either a motion of no confidence or defeat in a general election. [23]

Privy Council

The executive is defined in the Constitution Act, 1867 as the Crown acting on the advice of the King's Privy Council for Canada, referred to as the King-in-Council. [2] [24] [25] [26] However, the Privy Council—consisting mostly of former ministers, chief justices, and other elder statesmen—rarely meets in full. In the construct of constitutional monarchy and responsible government, the advice tendered is typically binding, [27] meaning the monarch reigns but does not rule, with the Cabinet ruling "in trust" for the monarch. [28] However, the royal prerogative belongs to the Crown and not to any of the ministers, [29] [30] [31] and there are rare exceptions where the monarch may be obliged to act unilaterally to prevent manifestly unconstitutional acts. [32] [33]

Cabinet

The stipulations of responsible government require that those who directly advise the Crown on the exercise the royal prerogative be accountable to the elected House of Commons and the day-to-day operation of government is guided only by a sub-group of the Privy Council made up of individuals who hold seats in Parliament, known as the Cabinet. [26]

The monarch and governor general typically follow the near-binding advice of their ministers. The royal prerogative, however, belongs to the Crown and not to any of the ministers, [15] [31] who only rule "in trust" for the monarch and who must relinquish the Crown's power back to it upon losing the confidence of the commons, [28] [34] whereupon a new government, which can hold the lower chamber's confidence, is installed by the governor general. The royal and vice-royal figures may unilaterally use these powers in exceptional constitutional crisis situations (an exercise of the reserve powers), [n 1] thereby allowing the monarch to make sure "that the government conducts itself in compliance with the constitution." [35] Politicians can sometimes try to use to their favour to obscure the complexity of the relationship between the monarch, viceroy, ministers, and Parliament, as well as the public's general unfamiliarity with such. [n 2]

See also

Related Research Articles

The politics of Canada functions within a framework of parliamentary democracy and a federal system of parliamentary government with strong democratic traditions. Canada is a constitutional monarchy where the monarch is head of state. In practice, executive authority is entrusted to the Cabinet, a committee of ministers of the Crown chaired by the Prime Minister of Canada that act as the executive committee of the King's Privy Council for Canada and are responsible to the democratically elected House of Commons.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Prime Minister of Canada</span> Head of government of Canada

The prime minister of Canada is the head of government of Canada. Not outlined in any constitutional document, the office exists only per long-established convention. Under the Westminster system, the prime minister governs with the confidence of a majority of the elected House of Commons; as such, the prime minister typically sits as a member of Parliament (MP) and leads the largest party or a coalition of parties. The prime minister is appointed by the monarch's representative, the governor general, and, as first minister, selects other ministers to form the Cabinet and chairs it. Constitutionally, executive authority is vested in the monarch, but, in practice, the powers of the monarch and governor general are nearly always exercised on the advice of the Cabinet, which is collectively responsible to the House of Commons. Canadian prime ministers are appointed to the Privy Council and styled as the Right Honourable, a privilege maintained for life.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Governor General of Canada</span> Representative of the monarch of Canada

The governor general of Canada is the federal representative of the Canadian monarch, currently King Charles III. The king or queen of Canada is also monarch and head of state of 14 other Commonwealth realms and lives in the United Kingdom. The monarch, on the advice of his or her Canadian prime minister, appoints a governor general to administer the government of Canada in the monarch's name. The commission is for an indefinite period—known as serving at His Majesty's pleasure—though, five years is the usual length of time. Since 1959, it has also been traditional to alternate between francophone and anglophone officeholders. The 30th and current governor general is Mary Simon, who was sworn in on 26 July 2021. An Inuk leader from Nunavik in Quebec, Simon is the first Indigenous person to hold the office.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monarchy of Canada</span> Key institution of Canadas system of government

The monarchy of Canada is Canada's form of government embodied by the Canadian sovereign and head of state. It is one of the key components of Canadian sovereignty and sits at the core of Canada's constitutional federal structure and Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. The monarchy is the foundation of the executive (King-in-Council), legislative (King-in-Parliament), and judicial (King-on-the-Bench) branches of both federal and provincial jurisdictions. The current monarch is King Charles III, who has reigned since 8 September 2022.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cabinet of Canada</span> Canadian body of ministers of the Crown

The Cabinet of Canada is a body of ministers of the Crown that, along with the Canadian monarch, and within the tenets of the Westminster system, forms the government of Canada. Chaired by the prime minister, the Cabinet is a committee of the King's Privy Council for Canada and the senior echelon of the Ministry, the membership of the Cabinet and Ministry often being co-terminal; as of November 2015 there were no members of the latter who were not also members of the former.

The style and title of the Canadian sovereign is the formal mode of address of the monarch of Canada. The form is based on those that were inherited from the United Kingdom and France, used in the colonies to refer to the reigning monarch in Europe. As various Canadian territories changed ownership and then the country gradually gained independence, the style and title of the monarchs changed almost as often as the kings and queens themselves. The mode of address currently employed is a combination of a style that originates in the early 17th century and a title established by Canadian law in 2024.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Crown</span> States in the Commonwealth realms

The Crown broadly represents the state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions. The term can be used to refer to the office of the monarch or the monarchy as institutions; to the rule of law; or to the functions of executive, legislative, and judicial governance and the civil service.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">King's Privy Council for Canada</span> Body of advisers to the monarch of Canada

The King's Privy Council for Canada, sometimes called His Majesty's Privy Council for Canada or simply the Privy Council (PC), is the full group of personal consultants to the monarch of Canada on state and constitutional affairs. Practically, the tenets of responsible government require the sovereign or his viceroy, the governor general of Canada, to almost always follow only that advice tendered by the Cabinet: a committee within the Privy Council composed usually of elected members of Parliament. Those summoned to the KPC are appointed for life by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister of Canada, meaning that the group is composed predominantly of former Cabinet ministers, with some others having been inducted as an honorary gesture. Those in the council are accorded the use of an honorific style and post-nominal letters, as well as various signifiers of precedence.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Government of Alberta</span>

The Government of Alberta is the body responsible for the administration of the Canadian province of Alberta. In modern Canadian use, the term Government of Alberta refers specifically to the executive—political ministers of the Crown who are appointed on the advice of the premier. Ministers direct the non-partisan civil service, who staff ministries and agencies to deliver government policies, programs, and services. The executive corporately brands itself as the Government of Alberta, or more formally, His Majesty's Government of Alberta.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Government of Ontario</span> Canadian provincial government

The Government of Ontario is the body responsible for the administration of the Canadian province of Ontario. The term Government of Ontario refers specifically to the executive—political ministers of the Crown, appointed on the advice of the premier, and the non-partisan Ontario Public Service, who staff ministries and agencies to deliver government policies, programs, and services—which corporately brands itself as the Government of Ontario, or more formally, His Majesty's Government of Ontario.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lieutenant Governor (Canada)</span> Viceroy of a Canadian province

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monarchy in British Columbia</span> Function of the Canadian monarchy in British Columbia

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Monarchy in the Canadian provinces</span> Overview about the presence of monarchy in the Canadian provinces

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The politics of Nova Scotia take place within the framework of a Westminster-style parliamentary constitutional monarchy. As Canada's head of state and monarch, Charles III is the sovereign of the province in his capacity as King in Right of Nova Scotia; his duties in Nova Scotia are carried out by the Lieutenant Governor, Arthur LeBlanc. The General Assembly is the legislature, consisting of the Lieutenant Governor and fifty-five members representing their electoral districts in the House of Assembly. The Government is headed by the Premier, Tim Houston, who took office on August 31, 2021. The capital city is Halifax, home to the Lieutenant Governor, the House of Assembly, and the Government. The House of Assembly has met in Halifax at Province House since 1819.

The Government of British Columbia is the body responsible for the administration of the Canadian province of British Columbia. The term Government of British Columbia can refer to either the collective set of all three institutions, or more specifically to the executive—ministers of the Crown of the day, and the non-political staff within each provincial department or agency, i.e. the civil services, whom the ministers direct—which corporately brands itself as the Government of British Columbia, or more formally, His Majesty's Government.

The Government of Quebec also known as His Majesty's Government for Quebec is the body responsible for the administration of the Canadian province of Quebec. The term Government of Quebec is typically used to refer to the executive—ministers of the Crown of the day, and the non-political staff within each provincial department or agency, i.e. the civil services, whom the ministers direct—which corporately brands itself as the Gouvernement du Québec, or more formally, His Majesty's Government.

The Canadian secretary to the King is the senior operational member of the royal household for the monarch of Canada, presently King Charles III. The office was established as Canadian secretary to the Queen in 1959. The present office holder is Donald Booth, who was appointed to the position in 2019.

The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity recognized in common law as belonging to the sovereign, and which have become widely vested in the government. It is the means by which some of the executive powers of government, possessed by and vested in a monarch with regard to the process of governance of the state, are carried out.

The Letters Patent, 1947, are letters patent signed by George VI, as King of Canada, on 8 September 1947 and came into effect on 1 October of the same year. These letters, replacing the previous letters patent issued in 1931, reconstituted the Office of the governor general of Canada under the terms of the Constitution Act, 1867, expanding the governor general's ability to exercise the royal prerogative, thereby allowing her or him to use most of the "powers and authorities" lawfully belonging to the sovereign and to carry out an increased number of the sovereign's duties in "exceptional circumstances".

References

Notes

    1. See 'Responsibilities' and Note 1 at Cabinet of Canada.
    2. It was said by Helen Forsey: "The inherent complexity and subtlety of this type of constitutional situation can make it hard for the general public to fully grasp the implications. That confusion gives an unscrupulous government plenty of opportunity to oversimplify and misrepresent, making much of the alleged conflict between popular democracy—supposedly embodied in the Prime Minister—and the constitutional mechanisms at the heart of responsible government, notably the 'reserve powers' of the Crown, which gets portrayed as illegitimate." As examples, she cited the campaign of William Lyon Mackenzie King following the King–Byng Affair of 1926 and Stephen Harper's comments during the 2008–2009 Canadian parliamentary dispute. [10]

    Citations

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    2. 1 2 MacLeod 2015 , p. 18
    3. Department of Canadian Heritage (February 2009), Canadian Heritage Portfolio (PDF) (2 ed.), Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada, p. 3, ISBN   978-1-100-11529-0, archived from the original (PDF) on 11 June 2011, retrieved 5 July 2009
    4. Coyne, Andrew (13 November 2009). "Defending the royals". Maclean's. ISSN   0024-9262. Archived from the original on 11 October 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
    5. Brooks, Stephen Farper (2007). Canadian Democracy: An Introduction (5 ed.). Don Mills: Oxford University Press. p.  126. ISBN   978-0-19-543103-2.
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    9. CTV News (7 March 2011). "Tories defend use of 'Harper Government'". Bell Media. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2011.
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    11. Privy Council Office (2008). Accountable Government: A Guide for Ministers and Ministers of State – 2008. Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada. p. 45. ISBN   978-1-100-11096-7. Archived from the original on 18 March 2010. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
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    15. 1 2 Cox, Noel (September 2002). "Black v Chrétien: Suing a Minister of the Crown for Abuse of Power, Misfeasance in Public Office and Negligence". Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law. 9 (3): 12. Archived from the original on 26 June 2020. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
    16. MacLeod 2015 , p. 17
    17. Forsey, Eugene (2005). How Canadians Govern Themselves (PDF) (6 ed.). Ottawa: Queen's Printer for Canada. p. 1. ISBN   978-0-662-39689-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 March 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2008.
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    19. MacLeod 2015 , p. 16
    20. Russell, Peter (1983), "Bold Statecraft, Questionable Jurisprudence", in Banting, Keith G.; Simeon, Richard (eds.), And no one cheered: federalism, democracy, and the Constitution Act, Toronto: Taylor & Francis, p. 217, ISBN   978-0-458-95950-1
    21. Jackson, Michael D. October 2009. "The Senior Realms of the Queen" (book review & commentary). Canadian Monarchist News 39(30):9–12. Archived from the original on 29 December 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2020. p. 9. Reviewed work: Boyce, Peter. 2008. The Queen's Other Realms: The Crown and its Legacy in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. ISBN   9781862877009. Sydney, AU: Federation Press.
    22. Office of the Governor General of Canada. "Media > Fact Sheets > The Swearing-In of a New Ministry". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 9 October 2006. Retrieved 18 May 2009.
    23. Brooks 2007 , p. 235
    24. Wrong, Humphrey Hume. 10 November 1952. "Relations With the United States [Telegram 219]." Documents on Canadian External Relations 18(867): Ch. 8. Ottawa: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. Archived from the original on 23 November 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
    25. Victoria (1867), Constitution Act, 1867, III.15, Westminster: Queen's Printer (published 29 March 1867), III.9 & 11, archived from the original on 3 February 2010, retrieved 15 January 2009
    26. 1 2 Marleau & Montpetit 2000 , The Executive
    27. Russell, Peter (1983). "Bold Statecraft, Questionable Jurisprudence". In Banting, Keith G.; Simeon, Richard (eds.). And no one cheered: federalism, democracy, and the Constitution Act. Toronto: Taylor & Francis. p. 217. ISBN   978-0-458-95950-1 . Retrieved 12 June 2010.
    28. 1 2 MacLeod 2015 , p. 8
    29. MacLeod 2015 , p. 16
    30. Cox, Noel (September 2002). "Black v Chrétien: Suing a Minister of the Crown for Abuse of Power, Misfeasance in Public Office and Negligence". Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law. 9 (3). Perth: Murdoch University: 12. Archived from the original on 26 June 2020. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
    31. 1 2 Neitsch, Alfred Thomas. 2007. "A Tradition of Vigilance: The Role of Lieutenant Governor in Alberta Archived 25 October 2020 at the Wayback Machine ." Canadian Parliamentary Review 30(4):19–28. Retrieved 22 May 2020. p. 23.
    32. Twomey, Anne (2018). The veiled sceptre : reserve powers of heads of state in Westminster systems. Port Melbourne, Victoria: Cambridge University Press. pp. 13–15. ISBN   978-1-108-57332-0. OCLC   1030593191.
    33. Lagassé, Philippe (4 September 2019). "The Crown and Government Formation: Conventions, Practices, Customs, and Norms". Constitutional Forum. 28 (3): 14. doi: 10.21991/cf29384 . ISSN   1927-4165.
    34. Tidridge, Nathan (2011). Canada's Constitutional Monarchy: An Introduction to Our Form of Government. Dundurn. p. 65. ISBN   978-1-4597-0084-0.
    35. Boyce, Peter (2008b), The Crown and its Legacy in Australia, Canada and New Zealand, Sydney: Federation Press, p. 29, ISBN   978-1-86287-700-9

    Further reading