Governor General

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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Thoughts about the coalition and minority government

By Harold Jansen on Feb 11, 2009

Helen Forsey, the daughter of the late eminent constitutional scholar, Eugene Forsey, weighs in on what her father would have had to say about the constitutional "crisis" in December. It's a worthwhile refresher course on the principles of parliamentary government, especially in a minority government situation. You can read it here.

The Liberal - NDP Coalition and Forming Government

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Dec 19, 2008

Find an explanation of how a proposed Liberal-NDP coalition government could assume power according to Canada’s parliamentary tradition. Includes an examination of a possible vote of non-confidence against the Conservative minority government; a request to the Governor General to allow a Liberal-New Democratic coalition to form a new government; and the immediate tasks facing a possible coalition government once in power.

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Events Leading to the Liberal - NDP Coalition Agreement

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Dec 18, 2008

On December 1, 2008, the Liberal Party of Canada, the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois officially signed an agreement to defeat the Conservative minority government led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Under this agreement, the Liberals and NDP agreed to form a coalition government, which would be supported by the Bloc. The following article provides an overview of factors and events surrounding the signing of this agreement.

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Considering the Governor General's Decision to Prorogue Parliament

By Harold Jansen on Dec 4, 2008

Like many Canadians, I was glued to the television to see what the governor general would decide in response to Stephen Harper's request to prorogue Parliament. I have a lot of sympathy for the governor-general: the Prime Minister put in her a very difficult position with this request. I'd also like to give credit to the opposition leaders. Rather than attacking the governor general and needlesly politicizing her decision, they pointed the finger at Stephen Harper. That's where the blame belongs, if there is any.

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Constitutional Refresher Course: What is a Prorogation of Parliament?

By Harold Jansen on Dec 4, 2008

As I write this, Stephen Harper is currently meeting with Michaelle Jean and is reportedly requesting a prorogation of Parliament. I've been asked a lot what exactly this means and how it relates to the current situation in Ottawa. So, here's a refresher course on prorogation.

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If the governor-general agrees to dissolve Parliament, what would the election look like?

By Harold Jansen on Dec 2, 2008

Running through all the what-if scenarios that could unfold over the next few weeks has become a favorite activity for Canadian junkies. Here's one that just occurred to me. What happens in the (unlikely, according to constitutional experts) event that Michaelle Jean granted a request by Stephen Harper for a dissolution of Parliament? We'd have an election. And here's where things would get even more interesting.

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Note to coalition: Just because you CAN replace the government doesn't mean you SHOULD replace the government

By Harold Jansen on Dec 1, 2008

Wow: events on Parliament Hill are developing quickly as Canada enters almost uncharted waters: the Liberals, NDP, and the Bloc have signed a deal on a proposed coalition. Given how coalition governments are foreign to Canadian political tradition, it's a remarkable thing to see this come about in such short order. I'm surprised to see this. I knew the opposition parties would be galvanized by the end of the vote subsidy, but I thought once the Conservatives withdrew it, they would relent. I was wrong.

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Constitutional refresher course: the people do not choose the government

By Harold Jansen on Nov 30, 2008

In the showdown between the Conservatives and an erstwhile Liberal-NDP coalition, one point gets obscured. In the Canadian political system, the voters do not vote for a government. When we vote, we vote for a local Member of Parliament. The formation of government is a byproduct of that, not the direct choice of Canadians. So, who does choose who forms a government. Very simply, it's the Governor General. Most of the Governor General's power's are heavily constrained by convention, in that the GG has to follow the advice of the Prime Minister and cabinet.

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

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Jan 30, 2008


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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Parliamentary Government in Canada: Basic Organization and Practices

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Oct 13, 2007


p>Canada’s parliamentary system is a central component to its government. This system frames the relationship between Canadians and their political leaders, the manner in which laws are passed, and the organization and authority of key government positions and institutions.

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The Prime Minister & Cabinet in Canada

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Jun 1, 2007

The Prime Minister and Cabinet sit at the pinnacle of executive political power in Canada. They are responsible for leading the nation and deciding the direction of national public policy. This article provides an introduction to Prime Minister and Cabinet as institutions in the Canadian government.

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Office of the Governor General of Canada

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Jan 1, 2006

The Office of Governor General is one of the least discussed political institutions in Canadian politics, yet represents one of the most historical and symbolic offices in the nation’s system of government. In recent years, the Office of Governor General has been the focus of some debate in Canada, with some questioning its overall relevance, while others have taken issue with the costs of running the Office, and spending by the Governor General.

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