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Elections

Elections are a process in which Canadian citizens express their preferences about who will represent and govern them. Those preferences are combined to decide which candidates will become Members of Parliament. Elections are fundamental to the operation of democracy in Canada as they are the central means by which citizens grant authority to those who govern them.

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Durham Report

In 1838, the British politician Lord Durham was sent to British North America to investigate the causes of the rebellions of 1837–38 in the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada. Durham's famous Report on the Affairs of British North America (1839) led to a series of reforms and changes. These included uniting the two Canadas into a single colony, the Province of Canada, in 1841. (See also: Act of Union.) The report also paved the way for responsible government. This was a critical step in the development of Canadian democracy. The report played an important role in the evolution of Canada’s political independence from Britain.

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Rebellion in Upper Canada

The 1837 rebellion in Upper Canada was a less violent, more limited affair than the uprising earlier that year in Lower Canada. However, its leaders, including William Lyon Mackenzie, were equally serious in their demands. They wanted democratic reform and an end to the rule of a privileged oligarchy. The rebellion itself failed, but its very failure helped pave the way for moderate and careful political change in British North America. This included the union of Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada and the eventual introduction of responsible government.

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Lobbying in Canada

Lobbying is the process through which individuals and groups articulate their interests to federal, provincial or municipal governments to influence public policy or government decision-making. Lobbyists may be paid third parties who communicate on behalf of their clients; or they may be employees of a corporation or organization seeking to influence the government. Because of the possibility for conflict of interest, lobbying is the subject of much public scrutiny. At the federal level, lobbying activities are governed by the Lobbying Act. Provinces and municipalities have their own lobbying laws and by-laws.

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Leader of the Opposition

In Canada, the leader of the Opposition is the leader of the largest political party sitting in opposition to the federal government (in other words, the party with the second-largest number of seats in the House of Commons). The formal title is “Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition.” This title reflects the Westminster system of government found in many Commonwealth countries whose political roots can be traced to the United Kingdom.

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Politics in Newfoundland and Labrador

The province of Newfoundland and Labrador has a minority Liberal government, elected on 16 May 2019. The premier of the province is Andrew Furey and the Lieutenant Governor is Judy May Foote. Its first premier, Joey Smallwood, was elected in 1949, after the province joined Confederation. Prior to Confederation, Newfoundland was first a British colony, then beginning in 1907, a dominion of the British Empire. It has been governed in various ways throughout its history, beginning with naval law in the 1600s.

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Ottawa Pledges $114.7 Million for Asylum-Seeker Housing

The federal government earmarked $114.7 million to compensate provinces and cities for the costs of temporary housing for asylum seekers. The amount was in addition to $50 million that was promised to Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec in the summer of 2018. However, the financial commitment fell short of the $200 million and $300 million that Ontario and Quebec, respectively, estimated to have spent.

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Charles Gordon Hewitt

Charles Gordon Hewitt, administrator, economic entomologist, conservationist (born 23 February 1885 in Macclesfield, England; died 29 February 1920 in Ottawa, ON). Charles Gordon Hewitt was an expert on houseflies who served as Canada’s Dominion entomologist from 1909 until his death. He played an important role in expanding the government’s entomology branch, as well as in passing the Destructive Insect and Pest Act (1910).

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Indigenous Services Canada

Indigenous Services Canada (part of the former Indigenous/Indian and Northern Affairs Canada or INAC) was created by the federal government in 2017 to provide and support the delivery of services such as health care, child care, education and infrastructure to First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities. The overarching vision of the department is to support self-determination as a means of providing Indigenous peoples with the power to deliver their own services.

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Rebellions of 1837–38

In 1837 and 1838, insurgents in Upper and Lower Canada led rebellions against the Crown and the political status quo. The revolt in Lower Canada was more serious and violent than the rebellion in Upper Canada. However, both events inspired the pivotal Durham Report. It led to the Act of Union, which merged the two colonies into the Province of Canada. It also resulted in the introduction of responsible government. These were critical events on the road to Canadian nationhood.

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Rebellion in Lower Canada (The Patriots' War)

In 1837 and 1838, French Canadian militants in Lower Canada took up arms against the British Crownin a pair of insurrections. The twin rebellions killed more than 300 people. They followed years of tensions between the colony’s anglophone minority and the growing, nationalistic aspirations of its francophonemajority. The rebels failed in their campaign against British rule. However, their revolt led to political reform, including the unified Province of Canada and the introduction of responsible government. The rebellion in Lower Canada, which is also known as the Patriots' War (la Guerre des patriotes), also gave French Canadians one of their first nationalist heroes in Louis-Joseph Papineau.

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Political Participation in Canada

Canadians participate in the political system any time they voluntarily try to influence the outcome of an election, or a government or party policy. This can be done in various ways, from voting to campaigning for a political cause to running for political office. The highest turnout rate for a federal election was 79.4 per cent in 1958. Voter turnout in Canada declined in the 1990s and 2000s, reaching 58.8 per cent in 2008. The numbers then began trending upwards, reaching 68.3 per cent in 2015 and 67 per cent in 2019. Women, who gained the right to vote federally in 1918, vote at slightly higher rates than men. Older citizens are more politically active than younger ones, although voting among people age 18 to 34 increased sharply between 2011 and 2019.

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Welfare State

The welfare state in Canada is a multi-billion dollar system of government programs that transfer money and services to Canadians to deal with an array of societal needs.

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Province of Canada (1841-67)

In 1841, Britain united the colonies of Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada. This was in response to the violent rebellions of 1837–38. The Durham Report (1839) recommended the guidelines to create the new colony with the Act of Union. The Province of Canada was made up of Canada West (formerly Upper Canada) and Canada East (formerly Lower Canada). The two regions were governed jointly until the Province was dissolved to make way for Confederation in 1867. Canada West then became Ontario and Canada East became Quebec. The Province of Canada was a 26-year experiment in anglophone-francophone political cooperation. During this time, responsible government came to British North America and expanded trade and commerce brought wealth to the region. Leaders such as Sir John A. Macdonald, Sir George-Étienne Cartier and George Brown emerged and Confederation was born.

(This is the full-length entry about the Province of Canada. For a plain language summary, please see Province of Canada (Plain Language Summary).)

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Prohibition in Canada

Prohibition in Canada came about as a result of the temperance movement. It called for moderation or total abstinence from alcohol, based on the belief that drinking was responsible for many of society’s ills. The Canada Temperance Act (Scott Act) of 1878 gave local governments the “local option” to ban the sale of alcohol. Prohibition was first enacted on a provincial basis in Prince Edward Island in 1901. It became law in the remaining provinces, as well as in Yukon and Newfoundland, during the First World War. Liquor could be legally produced in Canada (but not sold there) and legally exported out of Canadian ports. Most provincial laws were repealed in the 1920s. PEI was the last to give up the “the noble experiment” in 1948.  

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Ottawa Announces New Measures to Protect Right Whales

The federal government announced new measures to protect North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. These include lowering speed limits, expanding the limits to cover a greater area and applying them to ships of all sizes. Aerial surveillance will also be used to spot whales and alert ships to their presence. At least 18 right whales have been killed in the area since 2017. Only about 400 of the endangered whales remain worldwide.

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Canada Files Claim for North Pole

After years of research costing more than $100 million, Canada submitted its bid for control of a large part of the Arctic seabed to the UN Commission on Limits of the Continental Shelf. Russia and Denmark had already filed their claims, and the United States and Norway were expected to follow suit. The process of determining who has sovereignty over the Arctic, and control over resources there, is expected to take years.