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Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party Win Minority Government

Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party won re-election with a minority government, despite losing 20 seats for a total of 157. They also secured the lowest ever share of the popular vote (33 per cent) by a victorious party in a federal election. Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives received 34 per cent of the popular vote and increased their seat count from 95 to 121. The Bloc Québécois regained official party status with 32 seats, while the NDP fell from 39 seats to 24 and the Green Party increased their seat total from two to three. Jody Wilson-Raybould was the lone independent. The Liberal victory also breathed new life into the Western separatist movement, as the Conservatives’ loss left many in Alberta and Saskatchewan feeling disgruntled and alienated.

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Member of Parliament (MP)

The term Member of Parliament (MP) refers to individuals elected to represent a single federal electoral district (or “riding”) in the House of Commons. As elected representatives, MPs have three main duties: legislating in Parliament, representing their riding and political party, and serving their constituents’ needs. MPs occupy different roles and levels of influence in government. They hold office until Parliament is dissolved — typically four year terms — and can serve infinite mandates, so long as they are re-elected. Any Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years old on election day can run for office. Most MPs are elected as a member of a political party, but some may campaign and sit as independents. There are 338 seats for Members of Parliament in the House of Commons.

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Viscount Byng of Vimy

Field Marshall Julian Hedworth George Byng, 1st Viscount Byng of Vimy, Commander of the Canadian Corps from 1915 to 1917 and Governor General of Canada from 1921 to 1926 (born 11 September 1862 in Hertfordshire, United Kingdom; died 6 June 1935 in Essex, United Kingdom). Byng led the Canadian Corps to victory at the Battle of Vimy Ridge during the First World War. As governor general, he is best known for his role in the King-Byng Affair, when he formally refused Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s advice to dissolve Parliament and call a federal election.

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Temperance Movement in Canada

The temperance movement was an international social and political campaign of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was based on the belief that drinking was responsible for many of society’s ills. It called for moderation or total abstinence from alcohol. This led to the legal prohibition of alcohol in many parts of Canada. The Canada Temperance Act (Scott Act) of 1878 gave local governments the “local option” to ban the sale of alcohol. In 1915 and 1916, all provinces but Quebec prohibited the sale of alcohol as a patriotic measure during the First World War. Most provincial laws were repealed in the 1920s in favour of allowing governments to control alcohol sales. Temperance societies were later criticized for distorting economic activity, and for encouraging drinking and organized crime.

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Distribution of Powers

Distribution of powers refers to the division of legislative powers and responsibilities between the federal and provincial governments. The areas of distribution were first outlined at the Quebec Conference in 1864 (see Quebec Resolutions) and are enshrined in the Constitution Act, 1867. They have been a source of debate and tension between the provinces and the federal government for generations. (See Federal-Provincial Relations.) However, this part of the Constitution has remained remarkably unchanged since Confederation.

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Marriage in Canada

Marriage remains one of the most important social institutions in Canada. It has undergone profound changes since the 1960s. The marriage rate is in decline and the traditional idea of a family is being transformed. After the turn of the millennium, the marriage rate fell to 4.7 marriages per 1,000 people (compared to 10.9 in the 1940s). Married couples are still the predominant family structure. But between 2001 and 2016, the number of common-law couples rose 51.4 per cent; more than five times the increase for married couples over the same period. The definition of what constitutes a married couple also changed in 2005 with the legalization of same-sex marriage. In 2016, 65.8 per cent of Canadian families were headed by married couples; down from 70.5 per cent in 2001. Marriage falls under federal jurisdiction, but the provinces regulate marriage ceremonies and grant marriage licences.

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Constitutional History of Canada

The Constitution of Canada is the country’s governing legal framework. It defines the powers of the executive branches of government and of the legislatures at both the federaland provincial levels. Canada’s Constitution is not one legal document. It is a complex mix of statutes, orders, British and Canadian court decisions, and generally accepted practices known as constitutional conventions. The Constitution has been in constant evolution from colonial times to the present day. The story of the Constitution is the story of Canada itself. It reflects the shifting legal, social and politicalpressures facing Canadians, as well as their choices as a society.

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Ottawa Releases Long-Awaited Arctic Development Policy

After extensive consultations with First Nations and territorial governments, the federal government released its policy on developing the Canadian Arctic. It had been in the works since 2017. Eight priorities were identified, with health, infrastructure and economic development leading the way. However, many criticized the policy for not including specifics on how it would be implemented. International law professor and Arctic expert Michael Byers said, “In terms of an actual plan, there’s very little here.”  

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Federal Government Announces $1.65 Billion in Aid for Oil and Gas Industry

With the Alberta energy sector reeling from a supply glut and low crude prices, the federal government announced $1.5 billion in loans for the oil and gas sector. The government also provided $100 million in funding related to economic diversification and $50 million in funding for “clean growth” projects. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley was critical of the decision, saying “There’s very little money in this, it’s mostly loans. We didn’t ask for the opportunity to go further into debt… The issue is not finding a market for our product. This does not reflect the kind of responsiveness that we need to see.”

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Justin Trudeau Apologizes for Mistreatment of Inuit with Tuberculosis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to Inuit for the federal government’s policy on tuberculosis in the mid-20th century, calling it “colonial” and “purposeful.” “For too long,” he said, “the government’s relationship with Inuit was one of double standards, and of unfair, unequal treatment. Canada must carry that guilt and that shame.” The apology, made in Iqaluit, was part of the Nanilavut initiative, which will assist Inuit in finding gravesites of family members. “We are sorry for forcing you from your families, for not showing you the respect and care you deserved,” Trudeau said. “The racism and discrimination that Inuit faced, was, and always will be, unacceptable.”

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PM’s Residence Costing Taxpayers Millions in Upkeep

Despite being unoccupied for more than four years and in urgent need of renovations for decades, the Prime Minister’s official residence at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa has cost taxpayers more than $2.3 million in basic maintenance since 2015. Problems at the residence, which Margaret Trudeau once sarcastically called the “crown jewel of the federal penitentiary system,” include asbestos, radon gas, mould, knob-and-tube wiring and the lack of a fire-suppression system. A 2017 report estimated the cost of renovating the building at between $34 million and $567 million.

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Indian Status

Indian Status is a legal identity defined by the Indian Act. It applies to some Indigenous peoples in Canada. People with status, known as Status Indians (or Registered Indians), fit the criteria for status as laid out in the Act. The terms of status — including who is considered Indian under the law — have changed overtime. Outside legal contexts, Indian is a term that is now considered outdated and offensive.

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Quarantine Act

Canada adopted quarantine legislation in 1872, five years after Confederation. It was replaced by the current Quarantine Act, which was passed by the Parliament of Canada and received royal assent in 2005. The act gives sweeping powers to the federal health minister to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases. These powers can include health screenings, the creation of quarantine facilities and mandatory isolation orders. The Quarantine Act was introduced in the wake of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) crisis of 2003. It was invoked in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Andrew Scheer

Andrew James Scheer, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and leader of the Opposition (2017–20), Speaker of the House of Commons, member of Parliament (born 20 May 1979 in Ottawa, ON). Andrew Scheer was first elected as a Member of Parliament when he was 25. He was the youngest Speaker of the House of Commons when elected to that position in 2011 at age 32. Six years later, he became the second leader of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) since its formation in 2004. Under Scheer, the Conservatives won 121 seats in the 2019 federal election, increasing their presence in the House of Commons. However, they failed to defeat the governing Liberals, who won a minority government. Scheer announced his resignation as leader of the CPC on 12 December 2019.