Portal:Canadian politics

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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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John A Macdonald election poster 1891.jpg
The following article provides a summary of results for the general (all seats contested) elections to the House of Commons, the elected lower half of Canada's federal bicameral legislative body, the Parliament of Canada. The number of seats has increased steadily over time, from 180 for the first election to the current total of 308. The current federal government structure was established in 1867 by the Constitution Act.

For federal by-elections (for one or a few seats as a result of retirement, etc.) see List of federal by-elections in Canada. For the eight general elections of the Province of Canada held in 1843 to 1864 before confederation in 1867, see List of elections in the Province of Canada. There were also earlier elections in Canada, such as for the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada (held in 1792–1836, now part of Ontario) and the Legislative Assembly of Lower Canada (held in 1792–1834, now part of Quebec).

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Gilles Duceppe, the Leader of the Bloc Québécois.
The Bloc Québécois (BQ) is a federal political party in Canada devoted to both the protection of Quebec's interests on a federal level as well as the promotion of its sovereignty.[1] The BQ seeks to create the conditions necessary for the political secession of Quebec from Canada and campaigns actively only within the province during federal elections.

The Bloc Québécois is supported by a wide range of voters in Quebec, from large sections of organised labour to more conservative rural voters. Members and supporters are known as "Bloquistes" [blɔˈkist] (Bloquists). English-speaking Canadians commonly refer to the BQ as "the Bloc". The party is sometimes known as the "BQ" in the English-speaking media.

The Bloc throwout the 2000s was the third largest party in the Canadian House of Commons. It has strong informal ties to the Parti Québécois (PQ, whose members are known as "Péquistes"), the provincial party that advocates for the separation of Quebec from Canada and its independence, but the two are not linked organizationally.

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Political shift in Canada in the first decade of the 21st century.

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Jack Layton - 2011.jpg
John Gilbert "Jack" Layton, PC (July 18, 1950 – August 22, 2011) was a Canadian social democratic politician and the Leader of the Official Opposition. He was the leader of the New Democratic Party from 2003 to 2011, and previously sat on Toronto City Council, serving at times during that period as acting mayor and deputy mayor of Toronto. He was the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Toronto—Danforth from 2004 until his death.

In the 2011 election, Layton led the NDP to the most successful result in the party's history winning 103 seats, enough to form Canada's Official Opposition. Federal support for Layton and the NDP in the election was unprecedented, especially in the province of Quebec where the party won 59 out of 75 seats. On May 18, 2011, Layton was sworn in as Leader of the Opposition in the 41st Canadian Parliament. Layton died on August 22, 2011, aged 61, after suffering from an undisclosed type of cancer. He was married to fellow MP Olivia Chow.

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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. ^ Some political scientists hold the view that the BQ is implicitly non-sovereigntist or non-separatist, given that BQ MPs, in assuming federal seats in the Canadian House of Commons, are implicitly placing their political imprimatur on "Quebec within Canada"; other political scientists, citing the party's prerogative to utilize, tactically, federal parliamentary rules to at least delay the business of Canadian federal government or else force the Canadian federal government to accept the BQ's pursuit of separate Quebec-centric policies, adhere to the theory that the BQ can exist at the federal level and at the same time be truly sovereigntist--and even separatist. The fact that the BQ communicates publicly in the English language seems to substantiate the former theory. Some legal theorists hold that if perhaps the BQ does implicitly recognize the legal reality that the Supreme Court of Canada, in Reference re Secession of Quebec, [1998] 2 S.C.R. 217, has ruled unilateral Quebec secession unlawful under Canadian law and international law, how the BQ plans to achieve bilateral Canada-Quebec agreement to yet another referendum on a sovereignty/secession question remains, at most, unclear at this time.
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