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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The Langevin Block, home to the Privy Council and prime minister's office
The Queen's Privy Council for Canada (QPC) (French: Conseil privé de la Reine pour le Canada (CPR)), sometimes called Her Majesty's Privy Council for Canada or simply the Privy Council, is the full group of personal consultants to the monarch of Canada on state and constitutional affairs, though responsible government requires the sovereign and/or her viceroy, the Governor General of Canada, to almost always follow only that advice tendered by the Cabinet—a committee within the Privy Council composed of elected Members of Parliament. Those summoned to the QPC are appointed for life by the governor general as directed by the Prime Minister of Canada, meaning that the group is composed predominantly of former cabinet ministers, with some others having been inducted as an honorary gesture. Those in the council are accorded the use of an honorific style and post-nominal letters, as well as various signifiers of precedence.

The Constitution Act, 1867, outlines that persons are to be summoned and appointed for life to the Queen's Privy Council by the governor general, though convention dictates that this be done on the advice of the sitting prime minister. As its function is to provide the vehicle for advising the Crown, the membership of the QPC is comprised predominantly of all living current and former ministers of the Crown. In addition, the chief justices of Canada and former governors general are appointed.

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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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Parliament Hill home of the Canadian government

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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. ^ 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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