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 House of Commons of Canada (French: Chambre des communes du Canada) is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the Sovereign (represented by the Governor General) and the Senate. The House of Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 308 members known as Members of Parliament (MPs). Members are elected by simple plurality ('first-past-the-post' system) in each of the country's electoral districts, which are colloquially known as ridings. MPs hold office until Parliament is dissolved and serve for limited terms of up to four years after an election, but historically terms end before their expiry. Seats in the House of Commons are distributed roughly in proportion to the population of each province and territory. However, some ridings are more populous than others and the Canadian constitution contains some special provisions regarding provincial representation; thus, there is some interprovincial and regional malapportionment based on population.

The House of Commons was established in 1867, when the Constitution Act, 1867 created the Dominion of Canada, and was modelled on the British House of Commons. The "lower" of the two houses making up the parliament, the House of Commons in practice holds far more power than the upper house, the Senate. Although the approval of both Houses is necessary for legislation, the Senate very rarely rejects bills passed by the Commons (though the Senate does occasionally amend bills). Moreover, the Government of Canada is responsible solely to the House of Commons. The Prime Minister stays in office only as long as he or she retains the support of the lower house.

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George Brown the first Liberal Leader 1861-1867.
The Liberal Party of Canada (French: Parti libéral du Canada), colloquially known as the Grits, is the oldest federally registered party in Canada. In the conventional political spectrum, the party lies on the centre-left.[1] The party has been the Official Opposition in the Parliament of Canada since the 2006 federal election. The Liberal Party has dominated federal politics for much of Canada's history, holding power for almost 69 years in the 20th century, more than any other party in a developed country.

The Liberals are descended from the mid-19th century Reformers who agitated for responsible government throughout British North America. These included George Brown, Robert Baldwin, William Lyon Mackenzie and the Clear Grits in Upper Canada, Joseph Howe in Nova Scotia, and the Patriotes and Rouges in Lower Canada led by figures such as Louis-Joseph Papineau. The Clear Grits and Parti rouge sometimes functioned as a united bloc in the legislature of the Province of Canada beginning in 1854, and a united Liberal Party combining both English and French Canadian members was formed in 1861.

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Parliament Hill home of the Canadian government

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Kathleen Mary Margaret "Kathy" Dunderdale MHA (née Warren; born February 1952) is a Canadian politician and the tenth and current Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, having served in this capacity since December 3, 2010. Dunderdale was born and raised in Burin; before entering politics she worked in the fields of community development, communications, fisheries and social work. Her first foray into politics was as a member of the Burin town council, where she served as deputy mayor. She was also a Progressive Conservative Party (PC) candidate in the 1993 general election and served as President of the PC Party.

In the 2003 general election, Dunderdale was elected as Member of the House of Assembly (MHA) for Virginia Waters. She served in the cabinets of Danny Williams—at various times holding the portfolios of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development and Natural Resources—where she developed a reputation as one of the most high-profile members of Williams' cabinets. Dunderdale became premier upon the resignation of Williams and after becoming the PC leader she led the party to victory in the October 2011 election. Dunderdale is the first female premier in the province's history and the sixth woman to serve as a premier in the history of Canada.

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The Canadian federal election of 1867, held from August 7 to September 20, was the first election for the new nation of Canada. It was held to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons of the 1st Parliament of Canada. (Voter turn-out: 73.1%)

The Conservative Party of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald won a majority of seats and votes in Ontario and Quebec. (Its candidates ran either as "Conservatives" or "Liberal-Conservatives".) Quebec and Ontario had previously been united as The Province of Canada with Macdonald and George-Étienne Cartier's Liberal-Conservative coalition forming the government.

Officially, the Liberal Party of Canada had no leader, however while George Brown did not hold an official position in the party, he was generally considered the party's leader in the election campaign, and would have likely been Prime Minister in the unlikely event that the Liberals prevailed over Macdonald in the election. As it was, Brown ran concurrently for seats in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the Canadian House of Commons and hoped to become Premier of Ontario. However, he failed to win a seat in either body, and the Liberals remained officially leaderless until 1873.
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  1. ^ Puddington, Arch (2007). Freedom in the World: The Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 142. ISBN 9780742558977. After a dozen years of center-left Liberal Party rule, the Conservative Party emerged from the 2006 parliamentary elections with a plurality and established a fragile minority government. 
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