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Politics in Ontario

The province of Ontario has a majority Progressive Conservative government, formed on 7 June 2018. The premier of the province is Doug Ford and the lieutenant-governor is Elizabeth Dowdeswell. Its first premier, John Sandfield Macdonald, began his term in 1867, after the province joined Confederation. Between the start of European colonization and Confederation, the southern portion of what is now Ontario was controlled first by the French and then by the British, while much of the northern part was controlled by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Ontario (Upper Canada) received representative government in 1791, from which time the colony was governed by a House of Assembly, a lieutenant-governor, and executive and legislative councils. In 1848, Ontario (Canada West) received responsible government. From this point the colony was governed by a House of Assembly, premier, and executive and legislative councils.

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Politics on Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island has a minority Progressive Conservative government, elected 23 April 2019. The premier is Dennis King and the lieutenant-governor is Antoinette Perry. Peter Bevan-Baker leads the only Green Party opposition in Canada. Until 2019, only the Liberals or Progressive Conservatives had ever governed or formed the official opposition. The dominance of these two parties has led some to call PEI the purest two-party system in the country. Yet PEI has seen a number of electoral firsts: Aubin-Edmond Arsenault was Canada’s first Acadian premier; Joe Ghiz was Canada’s first premier of non-European descent; and Catherine Callbeck was the first woman in Canada to win an election as premier.

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Provincial Government in Canada

Under Canada’s federal system, the powers of government are shared between the federal government and 10 provincial governments. The Constitution Act, 1867 granted specific jurisdiction to the provinces in 16 areas, compared to 29 for the federal government. However, provincial powers have expanded since then. Provinces can levy direct taxation and derive most of their non-tax revenue from the use of public lands and natural resources. Provincial governments in Canada are modelled on the British Westminster parliamentary tradition and reflect the principles of responsible government. They comprise an elected legislative assembly, from which a governing cabinet is selected by the premier. The lieutenant-governor assents to legislation as the representative of the Crown.

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Prorogation in Canada

A prorogation is a suspension of Parliament. All parliamentary activity is stopped, but the government remains in power and is not dissolved. Every session of Parliament begins with a summons and ends with prorogation; both are issued by the governor general (or lieutenant-governor at the provincial level) at the government’s request. Throughout Canadian history, governments have at times used prorogation to their own advantage. The main purpose of prorogation is to wipe clean the Order Paper of old or existing business and to set a new legislative agenda. All unfinished business at the end of a session dies on the Order Paper. There are procedures in place to reinstate previous activities in a new session, which begins with a Speech from the Throne.

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