Overview of Toronto

Politics of Toronto

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Canadian Politics

The Government of Canada has a parliamentary system within the context of a constitutional monarchy, as per the Constitution Act, 1867. The monarchy is a foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II, head of state for 15 other Commonwealth countries. The Queen's representative, the Governor General of Canada is currently David Lloyd Johnston. The government is defined by the constitution as the Queen acting on the advice of her privy council. However, in practice the role of the monarchy in Canada is limited. Their executive powers are directed by the Cabinet, a committee of ministers of the Crown responsible to the elected House of Commons and chosen and headed by the Prime Minister of Canada. The Canadian constitution includes written statutes, court rulings, and unwritten conventions developed over centuries that outline governance.

Executive Powers in Canada

One of the main duties of the Crown is to "ensure that a democratically elected government is always in place," which means appointing a Prime Minister, the most powerful institution in government. Per convention, the governor general must appoint as prime minister the person who holds the confidence of the House of Commons. In practice, this is typically the leader of the political party that holds more seats than any other party in that chamber.

Once sworn in by the viceroy, the prime minister holds office until he or she resigns or is removed by the governor general, after either a motion of non confidence or his party's defeat in a general election. It is responsible for initiating most legislation for parliamentary approval and selecting for appointment by the Crown, governor general, lieutenant governors, senators, federal court judges, and heads of Crown corporations and government agencies.

The office is currently headed by Stephen Harper (Conservative Party). The leader of the party with the second-most seats usually becomes the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, presently Thomas Mulcair. This position plays an important part as an adversarial to keep the government in check.

Legislative Powers in Canada

The Parliament of Canada is a bicameral national legislature. The Centre Block of the Canadian parliament buildings are located on Parliament Hill in the national capital of Ottawa. The legislature consists of the Queen (represented by the governor general), the appointed Senate (upper house), and the elected House of Commons (lower house).

The governor general summons and appoints the members of senators on the advice of the prime minister. The Crown provides the necessary Royal Assent to make bills into law. The Crown, acting on the advice of the prime minister, also summons, prorogues, and dissolves parliament in order to call an election, as well as reads the Throne Speech.

The Senate consists of 105 members, appointed by the governor general. The Senate reviews legislation from a less partisan standpoint.

The House of Commons is the dominant branch of parliament with the Senate and Crown rarely opposing its will. It consists of 308 members (Members of Parliament). They are directly elected by eligible voters in the Canadian populace. Each member represents a single electoral district for a period mandated by law of not more than four years (the constitution mandates a maximum of five years).

Law in Canada

The sovereign is responsible for rendering justice for all her subjects, but does not personally rule in judicial cases. The judicial functions of the Royal Prerogative are performed in trust and in the Queen's name by officers of Her Majesty's courts. The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of the country. The Constitution Act, 1867 (known as the British North America Act prior to 1982), affirmed governance based on parliamentary precedent and divided powers between the federal and provincial governments.

Canada's judiciary interprets laws and has the power to strike down Acts of Parliament that violate the constitution.

The Supreme Court is composed of nine members and is the highest court and final arbiter. It is led by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin (the first female Chief Justice). Its members are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister and minister of justice.

Political Parties in Canada

Major Federal Parties of Canada:

Note that Canadian parties at the federal level are often only loosely connected with parties at the provincial level, despite having similar names.

Politics in Toronto

The City of Toronto is the local government of Toronto. The city level of government is known as the municipal level.  The city of Toronto deals with water treatment, parks and recreation, libraries, public transit, police and fire services, etc. To see a full list of the municipal government responsibilities visit the Toronto City website. The city of Toronto has a city council that is made up of 45 elected members. The city council also has 44 councilors who are elected by those living in the different wards of the city, and one mayor who is elected by the entire city of Toronto. The mayor is the leader of the city council.

To request information, or get in contact with members of Toronto's City Council, visit their website to find the right contact information you need. You can also find information on city council meetings on the website as well.

If you require information for any of the services provided by the city, please call 3-1-1.

Update 18/08/2018

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