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Living in Canada Series: Federal Politics

Politics are complicated no matter where you live, and it can be intimidating to try to figure out a whole new system. However, understanding how government works is an important part of Canadian Life, and something to keep in mind if you’re thinking about immigrating to Canada. In this instalment of our Life in Canada Series, we break down Canadian politics at the federal level.

Government in Canada is divided into three levels: federal, provincial and municipal.

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Federal Government

Canada’s government is a parliamentary democracy. The Parliament is the body of the federal government. It has three parts: the Queen, the Senate, and the House of Commons.

The Queen

As a member of the Commonwealth and a former British colony, Canada is officially a constitutional monarchy. So the Head of State is the Queen of England, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queen is represented in Canada by the Governor General, who is appointed by the Prime Minister and usually serves for around 5 years. The current Governor General is David Johnston. The Governor General has many duties like giving Royal Assent to bills, and dissolving Parliament for an election.

The Senate

The Senate studies, amends, and either rejects or approves bills passed by the House of Commons. If the Senate approves a bill, it becomes law. The Governor General appoints the 105 Senators in the Senate, and they hold office until they turn 75. Seats in the Senate are distributed to represent major regions in Canada, based mostly on population size.

The House of Commons

The House of Commons discusses national issues. It also introduces, debates, and votes on bills. At least every four years, there is a federal election during which Canadian citizens elect Members of Parliament (MPs) into the House of Commons.

Canada is divided into 338 constituencies, or ridings, and every constituency holds its own election. Candidates in each constituency are members of one of the political parties of Canada. The candidate who wins the election gets a seat in the House of Commons, and the political party with the most members elected wins the election. The leader of the winning political party becomes the Prime Minister of Canada.

Prime Minister

The Prime Minister is the Head of Government in Canada. In the 2015 federal elections, the Liberal Party of Canada won, and their leader, Justin Trudeau, became the Prime Minister of Canada. The main duties of the Prime Minister are presiding over Cabinet meetings, meeting official foreign delegations, and answering questions in the House of Commons.

Did you know?

Canada has a multi-party system. That means that there are a lot of registered political parties that politicians might be a member of. However, there are only 5 parties that currently have members in government:


Finally, the Prime Minister chooses a group of Ministers to become a part of his Cabinet. The Cabinet Ministers work with the Prime Minister to make decisions about government spending, bills to present to Parliament, and ideas for new policies, programs and services.

Don’t forget to check out our Move to Canada and Living the Canadian Dream article series.

At Canadim, we are with you every step of the way. We don’t just prepare our client’s immigration file; we prepare our clients for their new life in Canada too! Get your free online assessment by using our quick and easy assessment tool.

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The Canadim Team!

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