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Canadian Senate Expenses Scandal

The Canadian Senate Expenses Scandal (2012–16) involved investigations into the housing and travel allowances claimed by dozens of Conservative and Liberal senators. Conservative senators Patrick Brazeau, Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin were suspended during the investigations. Duffy, Brazeau and Liberal senator Mac Harb were also charged with fraud and breach of trust but were either acquitted or the charges dropped. A 2015 audit of senate expenses revealed that 30 senators had been improperly reimbursed for expenses. The scandal dominated public discourse and put pressure on the Senate to establish clearer rules for travel, residency and living expenses.

Article

Filibuster

A filibuster is a parliamentary delaying tactic. It is typically employed by opposition parties to delay or prevent the passage of a bill they don’t like. A filibuster is brought about when legislators speak at great length in opposition to a bill; propose numerous, often trivial amendments; or raise many parliamentary points of privilege. All of this is designed to keep the bill from coming to a vote. The goal of a filibuster is to either change a bill or stop its passage.

Article

Senate of Canada

The Senate is the Upper House of Canada’s Parliament. Its 105 members are appointed and hold their seats until age 75. The Senate’s purpose is to consider and revise legislation; investigate national issues; and most crucially according to the Constitution, give the regions of Canada an equal voice in Parliament. The Senate is a controversial institution. It has long been regarded by many Canadians as a place of unfair patronage and privilege. An unresolved debate continues about whether it should be reformed into an elected body accountable to the voters, or abolished.

Article

Editorial: The Stanley Flag and the “Distinctive Canadian Symbol”

Prime Minister Lester Pearson and John Matheson, one of his Liberal Members of Parliament, are widely considered the fathers of the Canadian flag. Their names were front and centre in 2015 during the tributes and celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the flag’s creation. But the role played by George Stanley is often lost in the story of how this iconic symbol came to be.

Article

Coalition Governments in Canada

Coalition governments are created when different political parties co-operate by forming a temporary alliance large enough to enjoy the confidence of Parliament, allowing them to form a government. Members of all parties in the coalition are appointed to Cabinet. This sometimes happens when no single party has achieved a majority of seats in the House of Commons or provincial legislature. Federal coalitions normally appear during periods of crisis such as war or political breakdown. The strengthening of party affiliations and the development of the party system since Confederation has made coalitions more difficult to negotiate. Politicians have become wary of the long-term results of coalitions and are reluctant to introduce them.

Macleans

Chrétien's New Cabinet

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on June 23, 1997. Partner content is not updated.

As usual, the makeup of the cabinet sent out unmistakable signals about the government's priorities and intentions. In addition to Chrétien, there are 22 other Ontarians and Quebecers in the group, reflecting Liberal strength in the centre of the country.

Editorial

Editorial: The Canadian Flag, Distinctively Our Own

On 15 February 1965, at hundreds of ceremonies across the country and around the world, the red and white Maple Leaf Flag was raised for the first time. In Ottawa, 10,000 people gathered on a chilly, snow-covered Parliament Hill. At precisely noon, the guns on nearby Nepean Point sounded as the sun broke through the clouds. An RCMP constable, 26-year-old Joseph Secours, hoisted the National Flag of Canada to the top of a specially-erected white staff. A sudden breeze snapped it to attention.

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Closure

Closure is a procedural provision allowing the Government to curtail debate in the HOUSE OF COMMONS and bring on a vote. A remedy for FILIBUSTERING, it entails 2 different decisions by the House: the vote to apply closure, and then the vote (or votes) on the business being closed.

Editorial

Senate: Canada's Best Think Tank

As the Chrétien government prepared a new Speech from the Throne in which poverty would be a major theme, the Ministers, Members of Parliament and government planners working on the speech could have done worse than to turn to the famous 1971 Report of the Special Senate Committee on Poverty.

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House of Commons

The House of Commons is the centre of political power in Canada. The prime minister and his or her Cabinet receive their authority through the confidence of the House. It is an institution steeped in tradition and history. In recent years, Question Period has been televised, opening the political process to Canadians. Much of what the public sees is the rancorous debate and partisan bickering among political parties but the House of Commons is also where most government legislation is introduced, and where Members of Parliament meet to debate policy, vote on key legislation, and hold the government to account.

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Cabinet

In Canada’s parliamentary system of government, the cabinet is the committee of ministers that holds executive power. Cabinets are chaired by the prime minister (or in the provinces, by the premier). Ministers are typically elected politicians drawn from the party holding the most seats in the House of Commons (or the provincial legislature). Cabinets are traditionally strong, consensus-driven bodies; although some believe their influence is waning in the face of powerful prime ministers and their advisers.

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Parliament

According to the Constitution Act, 1867, the term Parliament refers to the Crown, the Senate and the House of Commons — the institutions that together create Canadian laws. When Parliament is referred to in some formal usages, all three institutions are included. In common usage, however, the legislative branch of government — the House of Commons and the Senate — is often equated with Parliament.