Working with government is easier when equipped with an understanding of its organization at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels. The following charts are designed to give a basic overview of the structures most relevant to an advocate.
Prime Minister. Elected head of the federal Government and of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister is also a member of Cabinet.
Cabinet. Officially a committee of the Privy Council, the Cabinet serves as the executive branch of Government, consisting of Ministers appointed by the Governor General according to recommendations made by the Prime Minister.
Parliament. The legislative branch of Government, consisting of the House of Commons, the Senate, and the Sovereign.
House of Commons. The elected branch of Parliament, consisting of 301 members, each representing a constituency. Also known as the Lower House, the House of Commons alone may initiate financial legislation. Your local MP is a member of the House of Commons.
Senate. This branch of Parliament is appointed by the Governor General according to recommendations made by the Prime Minister, generally consisting of 105 members. It is also known as the Upper House.
Sovereign. The Head of State, as represented by the Governor General of Canada.
Committees. Members of the House of Commons or of Senate appointed to consider an aspect of policy. Several types of committee exist:
For further definitions, see Parliament's glossary of parliamentary procedure.
Premier. Head of the provincially elected party.
Cabinet. Executive branch of the provincial government, appointed by the Premier. This body consists of Ministers, each of whom is the head of a provincial department.
Legislative Assembly. Legislative branch of provincial government, consisting of members elected in the province's constituencies. Your local MPP is a member of the Legislative Assembly.
Committees. Ongoing or permanent standing committees are appointed by the Legislative Assembly to review certain areas of business in greater detail. Occasionally, the Legislative Assembly may also appoint a select committee to consider a more specific issue.
Mayor. Elected head of municipal government.
Municipal Council. The elected body of councillors, each representing a ward/district of a municipality.
Standing Committees. In some municipalities (generally larger cities), permanent committees consisting of members from the municipal council may be appointed to discuss an ongoing area of policy.
Advisory Committees. In some municipalities (generally larger cities), advisory committees consisting of volunteers in the community may be appointed to advise council on a particular area of study.