Government & Institutions

Central to understanding Canadian politics is awareness of the nation’s basic governmental institutions. Find articles on the organization and operation of key institutions and structures of government, as well as important issues facing them.

The House of Commons: Introduction to Canada's Premier Legislative Body

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Oct 22, 2010

While Canada has two legislatures at the federal level, the House of Commons constitutes the centre of political power. To hold power, the Prime Minister and his/her Cabinet must maintain the support of a majority of the elected members in the House. The House also holds the government accountable through public debate, questioning, and review of government legislation and action. This feature provides an introduction to the functions, composition, and operation of the House of Commons.

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The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Feature by Tammy McCausland || Jun 1, 2010

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p> The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is Canada’s national public broadcaster. The concept of a public broadcaster emerged during the heyday of radio in the early part of the twentieth century. Radio provided a new way to disseminate news and information, and introduced a new medium for entertainment. With radio stations springing up all over North America as private broadcasters competed for listening audiences, the Canadian government became concerned about the undue influence of American programming on Canadians.

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Canada Pension Plan: Overview, History and Debates

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Apr 20, 2010

Two key aspects of Canada’s welfare state involve: a) encouraging citizens to save for their retirement income, and b) reducing poverty among seniors. In this context, the Canada Pension Plan is a central pillar of Canadian social policy. This article provides an introduction to the Canada Pension Plan, commonly known as the CPP, and includes a general overview of the plan, its position within the larger Canadian system of retirement income, its historical development, its administration, and key contemporary debates and issues.

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Prime Minister’s Office of Canada: Responsibilities, Organization, and Issues

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Mar 2, 2010

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is comprised of the executive staff of the prime minister, and plays a central role in the governance of Canada. This highly partisan organization acts not only as a source of support and policy advice for the prime minister, but also as a mechanism for centralizing political power. This article provides an introduction to the PMO, with a focus on its responsibilities, organization, and key issues.

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Privy Council Office of Canada: Responsibilities, Organization and Issues

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Dec 23, 2009

The Privy Council Office of Canada represents a key central agency in the federal government. As the pinnacle of the federal bureaucracy, officials in the Privy Council Office play an important role in the formulation and implementation of public policy at the highest levels of government. Even though the Privy Council Office plays a significant role in government decision making, the general public tends to know little about its operation and activities.

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Treasury Board of Canada: History, Organization and Issues

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Dec 14, 2009

The Treasury Board of Canada represent a key entity within the federal government. As an important cabinet committee and central agency, they play an important role in financial and personnel administration. Even though the Treasury Board plays a significant role in government decision making, the general public tends to know little about its operation and activities. The following article provides an introduction to the Treasury Board, with a focus on its history, responsibilities, organization, and key issues.

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Provincial Government in Canada: Organization, Institutions & Issues

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Mar 4, 2009

Canada’s provinces are an integral layer of the nation’s governmental system. Under Canada’s Constitution, provincial governments have many key powers and jurisdictions, such as the provision of fundamental social services (for example, health, education and welfare), control over civil and property rights, and power over local government. This article explores provincial government in Canada, focusing on the key topics of the provinces as a level of government; provincial political, financial and administrative institutions; and issues and debates in provincial government.

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Federal Government in Canada: Organization, Institutions & Issues

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Mar 4, 2009

The federal or national government is the central level of government in Canada, and is involved in many aspects of Canadians’ lives. The federal government plays a role in such things as the provision of social services, the economy, national defence and security, criminal law, foreign affairs and First Nations policy. This article provides an overview of the federal government in Canada, including its role and powers, its central political, financial and administrative processes, as well as key issues and debates in federal government.

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Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

Feature by Tammy McCausland || Feb 25, 2009

The job of regulating Canada’s broadcasting and telecommunications sectors falls to the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), an independent public authority created in 1968. Over its history, the CRTC has made numerous rulings regarding regulation and has addressed the impact of technologies on the industries over which it serves as guardian. This article begins with a brief overview of the CRTC as a regulatory body.

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Charlottetown Accord: History and Overview

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Feb 10, 2009

The Charlottetown Accord is a set of failed constitutional amendments, proposed in the early 1990s, to gain Quebec’s formal acceptance of the Canadian Constitution. The Charlottetown Accord was the second attempt to bring Quebec into the constitutional fold, and was initiated after the failed Meech Lake Accord of 1987. This article provides an introduction to the history and substance of the Charlottetown Accord.

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Equalization Program in Canada: Overview and Contemporary Issues

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Apr 24, 2008

The Equalization Program is an important component of Canadian federalism and the notion of equality between provinces regarding the social services they provide. Moreover, the principle of equalization has been a major source of debate in Canadian politics, between the federal and provincial levels of government, as well as between provinces. This article provides an overview of the purpose, operation and history of the Equalization Program, including a summary of key contemporary issues and debates.

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Auditor General of Canada: Role and Organization

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Apr 24, 2008

The Office of the Auditor General holds the federal government accountable for its use of public funds. However, the public is often unaware of the Auditor General’s official function and organization. This article introduces the Office of the Auditor General, including its role, legislative framework, history, basic organization and activities, as well as mechanisms of oversight.

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Federalism and the Atlantic Provinces: Contemporary Issues and Debates

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Feb 6, 2008

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p>Traditionally, Atlantic Canada has proven to be a strong ally of both Canadian federalism and of federal government involvement in its economic, social, and financial life. Nevertheless, the relations between the federal government and the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island have been strained at times. This article provides an introduction to key issues and debates in Canadian federalism by looking through the lens of Atlantic Canada.

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The Opposition in the Canadian House of Commons: Role, Structure, and Powers

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Jan 30, 2008

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p>The opposition is an important element of the Canadian parliamentary tradition and the day-to-day operation of government. This article examines the role, structure and powers of the opposition in Canada’s premier national legislature, the House of Commons.

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Federalism in Canada: Basic Framework and Operation

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Jan 11, 2008

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p>Central to the organization of government in Canada is the principle of federalism. Under this principle, Canada is divided into two constitutionally autonomous levels of government: the federal or central government, and the provincial governments. The nation’s basic division of government plays an important role in public finances and public policy.

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