The Branches of Government
The Branches of Government
• The Executive
• The Legislative
• The Judicial
The House of Commons
The Executive Branch
• The Executive
Branch: The
branch that carries
out the business
of government
• Examples of the
Executive Branch
• The Queen
Queen Elizabeth the Second
The Executive Branch
• The Governor
General (Queen’s
Representative at
the Federal level)
• The Lieutenant
Governor (Queen’s
Representative at
the provincial level)
Governor General
Michaelle Jean
Ontario’s Lieutenant
General James
The Role of the Governor General
• Signs bills into Laws (giving
them “Royal Assent”
• Officially welcomes
representatives of Foreign
Governments to Canada
• Reads the Speech from the
• Promotes Awareness of
Canada around the world and
across the Nation
• Acts as a Figurehead of the
Queen in Canada. Her power
is symbolic
Governor General Michaelle Jean
The Role of the Lieutenant
• The Lieutenant Governor
Represents the Queen at
the Provincial Level
• The Lieutenant Governor
is appointed by the
Premier for a term of 5
• Their role is to sign bills
into law, reading the
speech from the throne
and promoting the
Province across Canada
and around the world.
The Executive Branch
• The Prime
Minister of
• The
Premier of
Ontario Premier
Dalton McGuinty
Canadian Prime Minister
Stephen Harper
The Role of the Prime Minister
• In the Executive Branch, it is the
Prime Minister and the Cabinet that
hold the real power.
• The Prime Minister is the leader of
the political party in the House of
Commons that has the most elected
Members of Parliament (MPs).
• The Prime Minister chooses who is
in the cabinet.
• The Prime Minister is the leader of
the country and represents Canada
on the international stage.
The role of the Cabinet
• The members of the cabinet are
usually MPs who are in the same
political party as the Prime
• They are the “star players” in the
Prime Minister’s political party.
• Cabinet ministers are picked to
represent a series of Portfolios
such as:
• Minister of Finance
• Minister of Justice
• Minister of National Defense
The Federal Cabinet
The Cabinet
The various ministers of the
cabinet should:
• come from the various
provinces of Canada
• speak both official
• represent Canada’s
multicultural heritage
• have a lot of experience
for their portfolios (e.g.
the Minister of Justice is
usually a lawyer, Minister
of Finance has financial
The Role of the Premier
• The Premier of Ontario (or any
other province) leads the
executive branch at the provincial
• Like the Prime Minister, the
Premier leads the political party
that has won the most recent
• Similar to the Prime Minister, the
Premier selects a series of
cabinet ministers. However,
there are some cabinet ministers
that he does not choose (e.g.
minister of defense). Why is this
the case?
• Defense is Federal responsibility!
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty
The Executive Branch
• Members
of the
(Federal or
The Cabinet at the Federal Level
How Many Cabinet Ministers?
The Legislative Branch
• The House of Commons
represents Canada’s legislative
branch at the national level.
• It is composed of 308 members.
Each member represents a
riding, or geographical area (e.g.
the riding of Halton
• The citizens of a riding are called
Constituents. We are the
Constituents of Georgetown!
• The MPs in the House of
Commons are elected by the
constituents of the ridings to
represent their interests at the
federal level.
• The political party with the most
number of MPs wins the election!
The Federal Legislature: The
House of Commons
Majority and Minority Governments
• In order for a bill to pass and
become law, half of the members
of the legislature plus one needs
to say “yea” (yes).
• In other words 308/2 = 154 + 1 =
155 votes.
• If a political party in the House of
Commons has 155 or more
seats, they are said to have a
majority government. If they
have less, they have a minority
• The current Conservative
government of Stephen Harper
has less than 155 seats. As a
result, they needed the help of
the other political parties to pass
their Federal Budget
Conservative Environment
Minister John Baird
The Legislative Branch
• Elected Representatives
of the Parliament of
Canada. Sometimes
called “Backbenchers”.
They are not in the
Cabinet (executive
branch). Their job is to
vote in accordance with
the wishes of their
political parties.
• Is this democracy?
Halton Hills MP
Michael Chong
Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott
The Role of the Backbencher
• The role of the backbencher is to
represent the interests of both the
constituents in the ridings and the
political parties that they represent.
• However, what happens when they
clash? If Stephen Harper asks
Michael Chong to vote “yea” and the
citizens of Georgetown tell him to
vote “nea”, what should he do?
What will happen to him if he votes
• He will probably get kicked out of his
party and become an independent
MP like Chuck Cadman.
• Is this Democracy?
Independent MP
Chuck Cadman
The Official Opposition
• The leader of the political party
with the second highest number
of seats is the Leader of the
• During Question Period, his role
is to challenge the Prime
Minister. His ministers are
responsible for asking tough
questions for the government
and “keeping them on their
• The other political parties in the
House of Commons also ask
tough questions. If they are
effective in Question Period,
they can make the government
look bad and increase their own
chances of gaining power.
Leader of the Opposition: Stephane Dion
The Opposition
• If the government loses
a vote on an important
bill (e.g. the Federal
Budget), it is
considered to be a
confidence vote.
• In this case, either the
official opposition forms
a new government, or
an election is called.
NDP leader Jack Layton asks
Tough questions in the House
The Commons Mace
• The Commons Mace is
held by the Sergeant of
Arms and is used to open
and close every session of
• The Mace is used to
symbolize the authority
given to the House of
Commons by the British
• Initially, the Mace was a
weapon of War (hence it’s
shaped like a club)
The Sergeant
Of Arms carries
The Commons
The Speaker of the House
• The Speaker of the
House is responsible
for keeping the
discussion “civil” in
the House of
• Peter Milliken, is nonpartisan. In other
words, he does not
favour one party over
the other.
Sometimes, MPs will
be removed by the
Speaker of the House
if their comments are
“out of order”
Peter Milliken
The Speaker’s Chair
The Legislative Branch
• In Canada’s democracy,
the Legislative Branch is
composed of:
• The House of Commons
• The Senate
House of Commons
The Senate
The Senate
• The “upper” house of
the Legislative
branch is the Senate.
• It was designed to
Veto (block) bills
passed by the House
that were
irresponsible. In
essence, the Senate
was designed to be
the House of “sober
second thought”
Canada’s Senate Chamber. Nice Eh?
• In order to be a senator, you need to
be appointed by the Prime Minister of
• Since you need to be a friend of the
Prime Minister to be a senator, many
feel that the senate is corrupt and
undemocratic. Senators are not
• Although many senators are highly
respected and do honourable work,
others hardly ever show up to vote!
• Georges-Casimir Dessaulles served in
the senate for 23 years and spoke
twice; once to deny that his
appointment was an example of
political corruption and the other for
thanking members for remembering
his birthday!
Georges-Casimir Dessaulles
The Provincial Legislative
• The legislative branch of the 10
provinces of Canada is very similar
to the House of Commons.
• However, the elected members are
called MLAs (Members of the
Legislative Assembly).
• In Quebec, they are called MNAs
(Members of the National
• In Ontario, they are called MPPs
(Members of Provincial Parliament)
• In Ontario, there are 103 ridings.
As a result, how many seats are
their in Ontario’s Legislative
• 103
The Ontario Legislature
The Judicial Branch
• The Judicial branch of
Canada deals with the
administration of Justice
at the various levels of
• Their role is to interpret
the laws of Canada (e.g.
the Charter of Rights)
• There are 9 judges. Why
9? Why not 8 or 10?
• All judges are appointed
by the Prime Minister.
• 3 judges must come from
The Supreme Court of Canada
The Judicial Branch
• The Supreme Court of
Canada is the highest
court in the nation.
• The verdict of the
Supreme Court is final
(e.g. the Person’s
case, the abortion law,
the euthanasia case of
Robert Latimer, same
sex marriage)
The Supreme Court of Canada
What did we learn?
• The role of the executive Branch: The
Federal and Provincial Levels
• The role of the Legislative Branch: The
Federal and Provincial Branch
• The role of the Judicial Branch: The
Federal and Provincial Branch
• Key Terms
• Diagram of the House of Commons

The Branches of Government - Halton District School Board