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Double-click on any word to look it up and hear it pronounced in the FreeDictionary.
The Head of State is the monarch, Queen Elizabeth, through her representative, the Governor General of Canada, David Johnston. This position, of course, is mostly ceremonial; it’s a figurehead.
The real power lies in the Head of Government, which is the Prime Minister. The Cabinet is a group of officials -- cabinet ministers and junior cabinet ministers -- who are chosen by the Prime Minister from Members of Parliament of his political party, and the Prime Minister himself leads the Cabinet. This is the executive level of government, and in fact, it is what is referred to as “the government”. The other MP’s from the Prime Minister’s party are called “the caucus”. The Members of Parliament from the other parties are called “the opposition”. The second largest political party is called “the Official Opposition”.
Parliament is made up of two bodies: the Senate and the House of Commons. The upper house, the Senate, is made up of appointed, not elected, members. The Senate examines and revises legislation before it is made into law, and it looks out for the interests of the provinces and regions, and the interests of minorities of any kind. The House of Commons, however, is the most important body in parliament. It is made up of elected officials, called Members of Parliament or MP’s.
Voters are Canadian citizens who are 18 years of age or older. On election day, voters in each electoral district or riding select one of the candidates to represent them in the House of Commons as their Member of Parliament. The candidates running in the election are usually from the established political parties: the Conservatives, the Liberals, the New Democratic Party (NDP), the Bloc Quebecois, and the Green Party. However, candidates can also run as independents.
Now let’s look at the Canadian system of government, from the bottom up.