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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 a premier) and ministers are most often 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 institutions, although some believe their influence is waning in the face of powerful prime ministers and their advisers.

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Minority Governments in Canada

A minority government exists when the governing party does not hold a majority of seats in the House of Commons (or provincial legislature) but is still able to command the confidence of the House. Minority governments also exist at the provincial level and in Yukon, but not in Northwest Territories or Nunavut, which do not have political parties and are governed by consensus governments.

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Tom Mulcair

Thomas Joseph “Tom” Mulcair, PC, Leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) 2012–17, Leader of the Opposition 2012–15, provincial Cabinet minister, lawyer, university professor, political commentator, author (born 24 October 1954 in Ottawa, ON). Mulcair played a key role in building support for the NDP in Quebec during the 2011 federal election, after which the party, under leader Jack Layton, became the official opposition. Four years later, Mulcair led the party to a disappointing third-place finish in the 2015 federal election. He remained leader of the NDP until he was replaced by Jagmeet Singh in 2017. The following year, Mulcair resigned his seat in the House of Commons and became a visiting professor at Université de Montréal. He also became a political commentator on several radio and TV networks in 2018.

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Elections

Elections are a process in which Canadian citizens express their preferences about who will represent and govern them. Those preferences are combined to decide which candidates will become Members of Parliament. Elections are fundamental to the operation of democracy in Canada as they are the central means by which citizens grant authority to those who govern them.

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Lady Lansdowne

Maud Evelyn Petty-Fitzmaurice, Marchioness of Lansdowne, viceregal consort of Canada from 1883 to 1888 and Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Alexandra (born 17 December 1850 in Strabane, Ireland; died 21 October 1932 in London, United Kingdom).

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Lady Grey

Alice, Countess Grey, viceregal consort of Canada from 1904 to 1911 (born 18 November 1858 in London, United Kingdom; died 22 September 1944 in Lowood, United Kingdom).

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Women and the Quiet Revolution

The Quebec of the 1960s was synonymous with the Quiet Revolution. The mandate of the Liberal government led by Jean Lesage, which began with the election on 22 June 1960, marked a period of significant reforms. Political, economical, social, cultural — these reforms had major repercussions on the people of Quebec and drastically changed the lives of women. With the creation of a Ministry of Education, women obtained the same right to higher education as men. Additionally, Bill 16 conferred in principle full legal capacity to married women. The reformist spirit was also at work within the Union Nationale governments of Daniel Johnson, Sr., from 1966 to 1968 and Jean-Jacques Bertrand from 1968 to 1970. Finally, it was during the Quiet Revolution that women in Quebec began to use contraceptive pills to control their fertility, entered the workforce in large numbers and demanded maternity leave as well as the right to equality with men in all areas of public life.

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Sir Mackenzie Bowell

Mackenzie Bowell, KCMG, editor, publisher, politician and prime minister of Canada 1894–96 (born 27 December 1823 in Rickinghall, Suffolk, England; died 10 December 1917 in Belleville, Ontario). Bowell was a prominent Orangeman and served as Grand Master of the Orange Order in British North America from 1870 to 1878. He was a newspaper editor and publisher before entering federal politics. Bowell represented North Hastings in Canadian Parliament from 1867 to 1892 and was a Conservative senator from 1892 to 1917. He served as Conservative prime minister from 21 December 1894 to 27 April 1896 and was one of only two federal leaders to direct government from the Senate rather than the House of Commons. Pressure from his own Cabinet forced Bowell’s resignation in 1896; he was the only prime minister to suffer that fate. However, he remained a senator until his death.

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Svend Robinson

Svend Robinson, politician, activist (born 4 March 1952 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States). Robinson was NDP Member of Parliament for Burnaby, British Columbia from 1979 to 2004. In 1988, he became the first member of Parliament to openly identify as gay. Robinson resigned from politics in 2004 after pleading guilty to the theft of a ring; he was subsequently diagnosed with cyclothymia, a type of bipolar disorder. Both within and outside Parliament, he has advocated for environmental protection, the right to physician-assisted death, LGBTQ2 rights and mental health. In January 2019, Robinson announced that he was running for election to Parliament as the NDP candidate for Burnaby North-Seymour.

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Blaine Higgs

Blaine Myron Higgs, engineer, politician, premier of New Brunswick (born 1 March 1954 in Woodstock, New Brunswick). Higgs is a mechanical engineer who first won elective office in 2010 as a Progressive Conservative Member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. He was sworn in as premier on 9 November 2018.

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Gregor Robertson

Gregor Robertson, politician, entrepreneur, MLA, mayor of Vancouver (2008–18) (born 18 September 1964 in North Vancouver, BC). Robertson served as the 39th mayor of Vancouver for ten years, the longest consecutive term in Vancouver’s history. He won three consecutive terms in 2008, 2011 and 2014. During his time as mayor, he helped to create and implement the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan while facing many challenges, including rising housing costs, homelessness and Vancouver’s opioid crisis.

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Jody Wilson-Raybould

Jody Wilson-Raybould (“Puglaas” or “woman born of noble people” or “woman with integrity” in Kwak’wala), politician, lawyer (born 23 March 1971 in Vancouver, BC). Jody Wilson-Raybould is the independent MP for Vancouver Granville. She was federal minister of justice, attorney general and minister of veterans affairs in the government of Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Prior to her career in federal politics, she was a BC crown prosecutor, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and member of the BC Treaty Commission. As Canada’s first Indigenous justice minister, Wilson-Raybould introduced groundbreaking legislation, including Bill C-14 on medically assisted dying, C-16 on gender identity and human rights, and C-45, The Cannabis Act. She has helped to build bridges between First Nations communities and the Canadian government and is committed to helping Indigenous peoples seek self-government and gain equality in education, health care and legal rights.

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Kathleen Wynne

Kathleen O’Day Wynne, 25th premier of Ontario 2013–18, member of provincial parliament 2003–present, school trustee, community activist, mediator, teacher (born 21 May 1953 in Toronto, ON). The skills of a mediator, coupled with a strong sense of will, propelled Kathleen Wynne’s political career, making her Ontario’s first woman premier and Canada’s first openly gay head of government.

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Elsie Knott

Elsie Marie Knott (née Taylor), Ojibwe chief, community leader, entrepreneur (born 20 September 1922 on Mud Lake Reserve [now Curve Lake First Nation], ON; died there on 3 December 1995). Knott was the first elected female First Nations chief in Canada, after a 1951 amendment to the Indian Act permitted Indigenous women to vote and participate in band governments. She was also chief of her First Nation for 14 years, from 1954 to 1962 and from 1970 to 1976. Knott was dedicated to preserving the Ojibwe language and was known for her community activism and support of education.

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Yvon Dumont

Yvon Dumont, CM, OM, Métis leader, lieutenant-governor of Manitoba (born 21 January 1951 at St. Laurent, Manitoba, a mostly Métis community northwest of Winnipeg). Dumont became involved in Indigenous politics as a teenager and, throughout his career, held senior positions in the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF), the Native Council of Canada (now the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples) and the Métis National Council (MNC). As MNC president in 1986, Dumont participated in the defeat of the Charlottetown Accord. On 5 March 1993, he was sworn in as the lieutenant-governor of Manitoba, the first Métis person in Canadian history to hold a vice-regal office. Yvon Dumont was a successful appellant in the 2013 Supreme Court of Canada land claims case Manitoba Métis Federation vs. Canada. This case helped bring about the signing of a memorandum of understanding in May 2016 between the Canadian government and the MMF to “advance exploratory talks on reconciliation.” Dumont remains a proponent of recognizing the Métis people as a distinct Indigenous population.

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James Armstrong Richardson (Jr)

James Armstrong Richardson Jr., PC, grain merchant, politician (born 28 March 1922 in Winnipeg, MB; died 17 May 2004 in Winnipeg). The son of James A. Richardson Sr., James Jr. studied at Queen’s University and served in the RCAF as a Liberator bomber pilot patrolling the North Atlantic. He joined the family firm of James Richardson and Sons Ltd. in 1946 and was chairman and executive officer from 1966 to 1968. Richardson was elected Liberal member of Parliament for Winnipeg South in June 1968 and appointed minister without portfolio in July. From 1969 to 1972, he was minister of Supply and Services. He was re-elected in the 1972 general election and was appointed minister of National Defence. Following his resignation from Cabinet in 1978 over the government’s language policy, he sat as an Independent (1978–79), after which he returned to the family firm and became a director.

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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. Long regarded by many Canadians as a place of unfair patronage and privilege, the Senate is a controversial institution; an unresolved debate continues about whether it should be reformed into an elected body accountable to the voters, or abolished.

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Jason Kenney

Jason Kenney, politician, leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta, premier of Alberta (born 30 May 1968 in Oakville, ON). Jason Kenney is the leader of the United Conservative Party in Alberta and the Leader of the Opposition in that province. From 1997 to 2016, he was Member of Parliament for Calgary Southeast. He held several Cabinet positions in the Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, including minister for citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, minister of employment and social development and minister of national defence. Kenney resigned his seat in Parliament in 2016, following the defeat of the Conservative government in the previous year’s election. In 2017, he was elected leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party, which then merged with the Wildrose Party. After the merger, Kenney was elected leader of the United Conservative Party. On 16 April 2019, Kenney and the UCP won a majority government in the Alberta general election.