Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
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|Leader of the Government in the House of Commons|
|Office of the Government House Leader|
|Appointer||Governor General of Canada|
|Term length||At Her Majesty's pleasure|
|Inaugural holder||Ian Alistair Mackenzie|
|Formation||October 14, 1944|
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The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (French: Chef du gouvernement à la Chambre des communes), more commonly known as the Government House Leader, is the Cabinet minister responsible for planning and managing the government's legislative program in the Canadian House of Commons. The position is not legally entitled to cabinet standing on its own, so all Government House Leaders must simultaneously hold another portfolio. In recent years, sinecure assignments have been used to give House Leaders cabinet standing while allowing them to focus entirely on house business. The current House Leader is Peter Van Loan.
The Government House Leader works on the government's behalf by negotiating with the House Leaders of the Opposition parties. This often includes discussion over timetables and may include concessions to demands by opposition parties to ensure quick passage of a bill or opposition support. The position is especially crucial during periods of minority government, when no party has a majority in the House and the government must rely on the support of one or more Opposition parties to not only pass its legislative agenda but remain in power. The holder of the position must be an expert in parliamentary procedure in order to argue points of order before the Speaker of the House of Commons as well as be a good strategist and tactician in order to outmanoeuver the opposition parties.
From 1867 until World War II, the Prime Minister of Canada took upon himself the responsibilities of being Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, organizing and coordinating House of Commons business with the other parties. The expansion of government responsibilities during the war led to Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King deciding to delegate the House leadership to one of his ministers. In 1946, the position of Government House Leader was formally recognized. In 1968, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau designated the Government House Leader as President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.
Under Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, the roles of Government House Leader and President of the Privy Council were separated in 1989. Under Mulroney and his successors, the position of House Leader would often be held by someone who was named a Minister of State without any portfolio responsibilities specified. Since 2003, this Minister of State status has been obscured in all but the most official circumstances by the use of a "Leader of the Government in the House of Commons" style in its place.
Prime Minister Paul Martin's first House Leader, Jacques Saada was also Minister responsible for Democratic Reform; however, with the election of a minority government in the 2004 election, he appointed Tony Valeri to the position of Leader of the Government in the House of Commons with no additional responsibilities.
List of officeholders
Until 2005, the position of Government House Leader was not technically a cabinet-level post, but rather a parliamentary office, so to qualify for cabinet membership, an individual had to be named to cabinet in some other capacity. For a time, with the position having evolved into a full-time job, Government House Leaders have been named to cabinet as Ministers of State with no portfolio specified. The Martin government created these positions so that the Minister of State title is effectively invisible. An amendment to the Salaries Act made this unnecessary by listing the Government House Leader as a minister.
|House Leader||Other office held||Term of office||Prime Minister
|Ian Alistair Mackenzie||Minister of Pensions
and National Health
|October 14, 1944||October 17, 1944||King
|Minister of Veterans Affairs||October 18, 1944||April 30, 1948|
|Alphonse Fournier||Minister of Public Works||May 1, 1948||November 15, 1948|
|Minister of Public Works||November 15, 1948||May 8, 1953||St. Laurent
|Walter Edward Harris||Minister of Citizenship and Immigration||May 9, 1953||June 30, 1954|
|Minister of Finance||July 1, 1954||April 12, 1957|
|Howard Charles Green||Minister of Public Works||October 14, 1957||June 3, 1959||Diefenbaker
|Secretary of State for External Affairs||June 4, 1959||July 18, 1959|
|Gordon Minto Churchill||Minister of Veterans Affairs||January 14, 1960||February 5, 1963|
|Jack Pickersgill||Secretary of State of Canada||May 16, 1963||December 21, 1963||Pearson
|Guy Favreau||Minister of Justice||February 18, 1964||October 29, 1964|
|George James McIlraith||President of the QPCC||October 30, 1964||July 6, 1965|
|Minister of Public Works||July 7, 1965||May 3, 1967|
|Allan MacEachen (1st time)||Minister of Amateur Sport||May 4, 1967||April 23, 1968|
|Donald Stovel Macdonald||President of the QPCC||September 12, 1968||September 23, 1970||Trudeau
|Allan MacEachen (2nd time)||President of the QPCC||September 24, 1970||May 9, 1974|
|Mitchell Sharp||President of the QPCC||August 8, 1974||September 13, 1976|
|Allan MacEachen (3rd time)||President of the QPCC||September 14, 1976||March 26, 1979|
|Walter Baker||President of the QPCC||June 4, 1979||March 2, 1980||Clark
|Yvon Pinard||President of the QPCC||March 3, 1980||June 29, 1984||Trudeau
|André Ouellet||President of the QPCC
(also Minister of Labour)1
|June 30, 1984||November 4, 1984||Turner
|Ramon John Hnatyshyn2||Minister of State
(Government House Leader)
|November 5, 1984||February 26, 1985||Mulroney
|President of the QPCC||February 27, 1985||June 29, 1986|
|Don Mazankowski||President of the QPCC
(also Deputy PM)3
|June 30, 1986||April 2, 1989|
|Doug Lewis (1st time)||Minister of Justice||April 3, 1989||February 22, 1990|
|Harvie Andre||Minister of State||February 23, 1990||June 24, 1993|
|Doug Lewis (2nd time)||Solicitor General4||June 25, 1993||November 3, 1993||Campbell
|Herb Gray||Solicitor General||November 4, 1993||April 27, 1997||Chrétien
|Don Boudria (1st time)||Minister of State||June 11, 1997||January 14, 2002|
|Ralph Goodale||Minister of State||January 15, 2002||May 25, 2002|
|Don Boudria (2nd time)||Minister of State||May 26, 2002||December 11, 2003|
|Jacques Saada||Minister of State styled as LGHC and
Minister responsible for Democratic
|December 12, 2003||July 20, 2004||Martin
|Tony Valeri||Minister of State styled as LGHC||July 20, 2004||January 23, 2006|
|Rob Nicholson||Minister for Democratic Reform||February 6, 2006||January 4, 2007||Harper
|Peter Van Loan (1st time)||Minister for Democratic Reform||January 4, 2007||October 29, 2008|
||October 30, 2008||August 6, 2010|
||August 6, 2010||May 18, 2011|
|Peter Van Loan (2nd time)||
||May 18, 2011||Incumbent|
1. The Turner Ministry never convened the House, so Ouellet never technically served as Government House Leader. He was also named "Minister of State for Economic and Regional Development".
2. During this period Erik Nielsen, the Conservative House Leader when the party had been in Opposition, had the position of President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada. In practice this meant that Nielsen was senior Government House Leader in all but name and that Hnatyshyn was, in practice, Nielsen's deputy despite having the title of Government House Leader. This situation ended when Hnatyshyn became President of the Privy Council on February 27, 1985.
3. From August 27, 1987 Mazankowski was also President of the Treasury Board (until March 30, 1988) and Minister responsible for Privatization and Regulatory Affairs (until January 29, 1989). From September 15, 1988 he was also Minister of Agriculture.
4. The Campbell Ministry never convened the House, so Lewis never technically served as Government House Leader.
- "An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and the Salaries Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts". Canada Gazette, Part III, vol. 28, no. 3. June 22, 2005.
- "Appointments". Canada Gazette, Part I, vol. 138, no. 1. January 3, 2004.
- "Appointments". Canada Gazette, Part I, vol. 138, no. 32. January 3, 2004.
- "Appointments". Canada Gazette, Part I, vol. 140, no. 8. February 25, 2006.
- "Appointments". Canada Gazette, Part I, vol. 141, no. 5. January 27, 2007.