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Minister of Democratic Institutions

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Minister of Democratic Institutions
Government of Canada
StyleThe Honourable
Member of
AppointerGovernor General of Canada
Term lengthAt Her Majesty's pleasure
Inaugural holderJacques Saada
FormationDecember 12, 2003
Final holderKarina Gould
AbolishedNovember 20, 2019
Salary$255,300 (2017)[1]

The Minister of Democratic Institutions (French: Ministre des Institutions démocratiques) was a Minister of the Crown in the Canadian Cabinet, associated with the Privy Council Office. The position was first created in 2003 as "Minister responsible for Democratic Reform". It was also titled "Minister responsible for Democratic Renewal" and "Minister of State (Democratic Reform)" during various governments. The position was abolished on November 20, 2019.


Under Martin (2003–2006)[edit]

The position was created by Prime Minister Paul Martin when he succeeded Jean Chrétien in December 2003 under the title "Minister responsible for Democratic Reform" to address the "democratic deficit", an issue Martin campaigned on when he ran for leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

The portfolio was initially held by the Government House Leader, Jacques Saada, in Martin's first cabinet.[2] After the 2004 election, the portfolio was given to Mauril Bélanger, who was the deputy government house leader.

When Belinda Stronach crossed the floor from the Conservative Party to Liberals on May 17, 2005, she assumed responsibilities for the portfolio along with the post of Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. At this point the title was changed from "Democratic Reform" to "Democratic Renewal".[3]

Under Harper (2006–2015)[edit]

Under the premiership of Stephen Harper, the post was first held by his first two House Leaders (Rob Nicholson and Peter Van Loan) as "Leader of the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform". In 2008, the role was taken up by Steven Fletcher as "Minister of State (Democratic Reform)" and the same title was subsequently held by Tim Uppal and Pierre Poilievre.

Under Trudeau (2015–2019)[edit]

In the ministry of Justin Trudeau, who was elected on campaign promises of electoral reform, the portfolio was assigned to Maryam Monsef in November 2015, under the new title "Minister of Democratic Institutions".

In the mandate letter provided to Monsef by Trudeau, she has been instructed to table an action plan outlining proposals to reform the operations of the House of Commons of Canada in order to increase the role of individual Members of Parliament in the House and its committees. Proposals include allowing more free votes, giving committees more authority, increase research budgets, allowing chairs of house committees to be elected rather than appointed by the prime minister, giving MPs a role in choosing which committees they sit on rather than having them assigned by the prime minister or government house leader.[4] She oversaw the formation of the all-party Special Committee on Electoral Reform and appeared as its first witness.[5]

Following criticism of her handling of the portfolio, Monsef was named Minister of Status of Women on February 1, 2017 and Karina Gould was appointed in her place. On February 1, 2017, Gould announced that her mandate would no longer include exploring potential changes to the Canadian electoral system.[6]

On November 20, 2019, as part of Trudeau's Cabinet shuffle following the 2019 Canadian federal election, the Democratic Institutions portfolio was abolished. Joan Bryden of the Canadian Press reported that the position's responsibilities would be transferred to Dominic LeBlanc in his role as President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada.[7]



No. Portrait Name Term of office Political party Ministry
Minister for Democratic Reform
1 Jacques Saada December 12, 2003 July 20, 2004 Liberal 27 (Martin)
2 Mauril Bélanger July 20, 2004 May 18, 2005 Liberal
Minister for Democratic Renewal
3 Belinda Stronach May 18, 2005 February 6, 2006 Liberal
Minister for Democratic Reform
4 Rob Nicholson February 6, 2006 January 4, 2007 Conservative 28 (Harper)
5 Peter Van Loan January 4, 2007 October 30, 2008 Conservative
Minister of State (Democratic Reform)
6 Steven Fletcher October 30, 2008 May 18, 2011 Conservative
7 Tim Uppal May 18, 2011 July 15, 2013 Conservative
8 Pierre Poilievre July 15, 2013 November 4, 2015 Conservative
Minister of Democratic Institutions
9 Maryam Monsef November 4, 2015 February 1, 2017 Liberal 29 (J. Trudeau)
10 Karina Gould February 1, 2017 November 20, 2019 Liberal


  1. ^ "Indemnities, Salaries and Allowances". Parliament of Canada.
  2. ^ "Order in Council P.C. 2003-2027". Privy Council Office, Government of Canada. 2003-12-12. Retrieved 2015-11-13.
  3. ^ "Order in Council P.C. 2005-0950". Privy Council Office, Government of Canada. 2005-05-17. Retrieved 2015-11-13.
  4. ^ Justin Trudeau. "Minister of Democratic Institutions Mandate Letter". Prime Minister of Canada.
  5. ^ Wherry, Aaron (July 6, 2016). "Maryam Monsef tells Commons committee first-past-the-post voting system is 'antiquated'". CBC News. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  6. ^ Wherry, Aaron (February 1, 2017). "Opposition cry 'betrayal' as Liberals abandon electoral reform". CBC News. Retrieved February 10, 2017.
  7. ^ Bryden, Joan (November 22, 2019). "Dominic LeBlanc's role, who's in charge of regional agencies becoming clearer". National Post. The Canadian Press. Retrieved November 23, 2019.

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