Portal:Canadian politics

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The Politics of Canada Portal
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Introduction

Politics by province or territory

The politics of Canada function within a framework of constitutional monarchy and a federal system of parliamentary government with strong democratic traditions. Many of the country's legislative practices derive from the unwritten conventions of and precedents set by the United Kingdom's Westminster Parliament. However, Canada has evolved variations: party discipline in Canada is stronger than in the United Kingdom, and more parliamentary votes are considered motions of confidence, which tends to diminish the role of non-Cabinet Members of Parliament (MPs). Such members, in the government caucus, and junior or lower-profile members of opposition caucuses, are known as backbenchers. Backbenchers can, however, exert their influence by sitting in parliamentary committees, like the Public Accounts Committee or the National Defence Committee.

Canada's governmental structure was originally established by the British parliament through the British North America Act (now known as the Constitution Act, 1867), but the federal model and division of powers were devised by Canadian politicians. Particularly after World War I, citizens of the self-governing Dominions, such as Canada, began to develop a strong sense of identity, and, in the Balfour Declaration of 1926, the British government expressed its intent to grant full autonomy to these regions.

Thus in 1931, the British Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster, giving legal recognition to the autonomy of Canada and other Dominions. Following this, Canadian politicians were unable to obtain consensus on a process for amending the constitution until 1982, meaning amendments to Canada's constitution continued to require the approval of the British parliament until that date. Similarly, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain continued to make the final decision on criminal appeals until 1933 and on civil appeals until 1949.

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The government of Canada is the system whereby the federation of Canada is administered by a common authority; in Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council. In both senses, the construct was established at Confederation, through the Constitution Act, 1867, as a constitutional monarchy, wherein the Canadian Crown acts as the core, or "the most basic building block," of the kingdom's Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. The Crown is thus the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Canadian government. Further elements of governance are outlined in the rest of the constitution of Canada, which includes written statutes, court rulings, and unwritten conventions developed over centuries.

As per the Constitution Act, 1867, Canada is a constitutional monarchy, wherein the role of the reigning sovereign is both legal and practical. The Crown is regarded as a corporation, with the monarch, vested as she is with all powers of state, 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; the Crown has thus been described as the underlying principle of Canada's institutional unity, with the executive formally called the Queen-in-Council, the legislature the Queen-in-Parliament, and the courts as the Queen on the Bench.

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Tommy Douglas, NDP leader 1961-1971
The New Democratic Party (French: Nouveau Parti démocratique), commonly referred to as the NDP, is a social democratic political party in Canada. The party is regarded as falling on the left in the Canadian political spectrum.[1] The provincial NDP parties in Manitoba and Nova Scotia currently form the government in those provinces, and provincial parties have previously formed governments in British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and in the Yukon.

In 1956, after the birth of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) by a merger of two previous labour congresses, negotiations began between the CLC and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) to bring about an alliance between organized labour and the political left in Canada. In 1958 a joint CCF-CLC committee, the National Committee for the New Party (NCNP), was formed to create a "new" social democratic political party, with ten members from each group. The NCNP spent the next three years laying down the foundations of the New Party. During this process, a large number of New Party Clubs were established to allow like-minded Canadians to join in its founding, and six representatives from New Party Clubs were added to the National Committee. In 1961, at the end of a five-day long Founding Convention which established its principles, policies and structures, the New Democratic Party was born and Tommy Douglas, the long-time CCF Premier of Saskatchewan, was elected its first leader. In 1960, before the NDP was founded, one candidate, Walter Pitman, won a by-election under the New Party banner.

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The chamber of the House of Commons; the Speaker's chair is front and centre in the room.

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Michaëlle Jean 1 11072007.jpg
Michaëlle Jean CC CMM COM CD FRCPSC(hon) (French pronunciation: ​[mika.ɛl ʒɑ̃]; born 6 September 1957) is a Canadian journalist and stateswoman. She served as the Governor General of Canada, the 27th since that country's confederation.

Jean is a refugee from Haiti—coming to Canada in 1968—and was raised in the town of Thetford Mines, Quebec. After receiving a number of university degrees, Jean worked as a journalist and broadcaster for Radio-Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), as well as undertaking charity work, mostly in the field of assisting victims of domestic violence. She was in 2005 appointed as governor general by Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on the recommendation of Prime Minister of Canada Paul Martin, to replace Adrienne Clarkson as vicereine. At the time, comments of hers recorded in some of the film works by her husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, were construed as supporting Quebec sovereignty and her holding of dual citizenship caused doubt about her loyalties. But Jean denied separatist leanings, renounced her citizenship of France, and eventually became a respected vicereine.

As governor general, Jean is entitled to be styled Her Excellency while in office, and The Right Honourable for the duration of her viceregal tenure and life beyond; given current practice, she will be sworn in to the Queen's Privy Council for Canada when her term as the Queen's representative ends in 2010.

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Bronze plaque of Robert L Stanfield.
The Canadian federal election of 1974 was held on July 8, 1974 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 30th Parliament of Canada. The governing Liberal Party won its first majority government since 1968, and gave Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau his third term. The Progressive Conservatives, led by Robert Stanfield, did well in the Atlantic provinces, and in the West, but the Liberal support in Ontario and Quebec ensured a majority Liberal government.

A key issue in the election was controlling spiralling inflation. Stanfield had proposed a "90-day wage and price freeze" to break the momentum of inflation. Trudeau had ridiculed this policy as an intrusion on the rights of businesses and employees to set or negotiate their own prices and wages with the catch-phrase, "Zap! You're frozen!" In 1975, Trudeau introduced his own wage and price control system under the auspices of the "Anti-Inflation Board".

The New Democratic Party, led by David Lewis, lost less than two-and-a-half percentage points in popular vote, but almost half of their seats in the House of Commons. One seat was won in New Brunswick by independent candidate Leonard Jones. Jones, the former mayor of Moncton, had secured the Progressive Conservative nomination, but PC leader Stanfield refused to sign Jones' nomination papers because he was a vocal opponent of official bilingualism, which the PC Party supported.

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  1. ^ Penniman, Howard (1988). Canada at the polls, 1984: a study of the federal general elections. Duke University Press. p. 218. ISBN 9780822308218.