Leader of the Opposition

 The leader of the Opposition, is usually the leader of the political party with the second-largest number of seats in the HOUSE OF COMMONS. (If the party leader, usually elected at a national LEADERSHIP CONVENTION, does not have a seat, the party HOUSE LEADER temporarily substitutes for the leader.) The formal title is Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition: it is based on the Westminster system of government, a style common in Commonwealth countries whose political roots can be traced to the United Kingdom.

The leader of the Opposition was first recognized by statute in 1905 and given the same salary and allowances as CABINET ministers. The leader of the Opposition is a parliamentarian hoping to become PRIME MINISTER and is the leading critic of government programs and policies. He directs the party in PARLIAMENT and appoints leading members of the caucus as "shadow ministers" to monitor the work of the ministries. He is usually consulted by the prime minister on the appointment of the SPEAKER and sometimes on the appointment of the GOVERNOR GENERAL.

If the government is defeated in the Commons, the leader of the Opposition may be asked to form a government if the prime minister chooses to resign rather than to request a dissolution. Provincial legislatures have leaders of the Opposition with similar responsibilities. STORNOWAY is the official residence of the federal leader of the Opposition, but some former leaders of the Opposition, such as Lucien BOUCHARD, have chosen to live elsewhere.