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Distribution of Powers

​Distribution of powers refers to the division of legislative powers and responsibilities between the two orders of government — federal and provincial — outlined in the Constitution Act, 1867.

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Ottawa Pledges $114.7 Million for Asylum-Seeker Housing

The federal government earmarked $114.7 million to compensate provinces and cities for the costs of temporary housing for asylum seekers. The amount was in addition to $50 million that was promised to Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec in the summer of 2018. However, the financial commitment fell short of the $200 million and $300 million that Ontario and Quebec, respectively, estimated to have spent.

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Federal Government

The federal government is the national government of Canada, centred in Ottawa. The term can refer narrowly to the Canadian Cabinet, or more broadly to the Cabinet and the public service.

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Ottawa Announces New Measures to Protect Right Whales

The federal government announced new measures to protect North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. These include lowering speed limits, expanding the limits to cover a greater area and applying them to ships of all sizes. Aerial surveillance will also be used to spot whales and alert ships to their presence. At least 18 right whales have been killed in the area since 2017. Only about 400 of the endangered whales remain worldwide.

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Canada Files Claim for North Pole

After years of research costing more than $100 million, Canada submitted its bid for control of a large part of the Arctic seabed to the UN Commission on Limits of the Continental Shelf. Russia and Denmark had already filed their claims, and the United States and Norway were expected to follow suit. The process of determining who has sovereignty over the Arctic, and control over resources there, is expected to take years.

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Justin Trudeau and Liberal Party Win Minority Government

Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party won re-election with a minority government, despite losing 20 seats for a total of 157. They also secured the lowest ever share of the popular vote (33 per cent) by a victorious party in a federal election. Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives received 34 per cent of the popular vote and increased their seat count from 95 to 121. The Bloc Québécois regained official party status with 32 seats, while the NDP fell from 39 seats to 24 and the Green Party increased their seat total from two to three. Jody Wilson-Raybould was the lone independent. The Liberal victory also breathed new life into the Western separatist movement, as the Conservatives’ loss left many in Alberta and Saskatchewan feeling disgruntled and alienated.

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Prohibition in Canada

Prohibition was the result of generations of effort by temperance workers to close bars and taverns, which were the source of much drunkenness and misery in an age before social welfare existed.

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Patriation of the Constitution

In 1982 Canada "patriated" its Constitution, transferring the country's highest law, the British North America Act, from the authority of the British Parliament — a connection from the colonial past ­— to Canada's federal and provincial legislatures.

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Ottawa Releases Long-Awaited Arctic Development Policy

After extensive consultations with First Nations and territorial governments, the federal government released its policy on developing the Canadian Arctic. It had been in the works since 2017. Eight priorities were identified, with health, infrastructure and economic development leading the way. However, many criticized the policy for not including specifics on how it would be implemented. International law professor and Arctic expert Michael Byers said, “In terms of an actual plan, there’s very little here.”  

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Justin Trudeau Apologizes for Mistreatment of Inuit with Tuberculosis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologized to Inuit for the federal government’s policy on tuberculosis in the mid-20th century, calling it “colonial” and “purposeful.” “For too long,” he said, “the government’s relationship with Inuit was one of double standards, and of unfair, unequal treatment. Canada must carry that guilt and that shame.” The apology, made in Iqaluit, was part of the Nanilavut initiative, which will assist Inuit in finding gravesites of family members. “We are sorry for forcing you from your families, for not showing you the respect and care you deserved,” Trudeau said. “The racism and discrimination that Inuit faced, was, and always will be, unacceptable.”

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PM’s Residence Costing Taxpayers Millions in Upkeep

Despite being unoccupied for more than four years and in urgent need of renovations for decades, the Prime Minister’s official residence at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa has cost taxpayers more than $2.3 million in basic maintenance since 2015. Problems at the residence, which Margaret Trudeau once sarcastically called the “crown jewel of the federal penitentiary system,” include asbestos, radon gas, mould, knob-and-tube wiring and the lack of a fire-suppression system. A 2017 report estimated the cost of renovating the building at between $34 million and $567 million.

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Charges Stayed Against Vice-Admiral Mark Norman

Norman was second-in-command of Canada’s military in March 2018, when he was charged with breach of trust for allegedly leaking Cabinet secrets in relation to a $700 million shipbuilding contract. Charges against Norman were stayed by federal prosecutors on 8 May after they determined there was no “reasonable prospect of conviction.” On 14 May, the House of Commons voted unanimously to “apologize to him and his family for what they experienced during their legal conflict with the government.” The federal government also announced that it would be paying Norman’s legal fees.

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Ontario and Saskatchewan in Court Over Carbon Tax

The province of Saskatchewan argued to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeals that the federal government should not be able to impose a carbon tax on unwilling provinces, which also include Ontario and New Brunswick. Representatives for the federal government argued that it is a “regulatory charge,” not a tax, and that carbon emissions fall within federal jurisdiction because they are a matter of “national concern.”

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Treaties with Indigenous Peoples in Canada (Plain Language Summary)

Indigenous treaties in Canada are agreements made between the Crown and Indigenous people (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit). These agreements concern land. Indigenous people agree to share their land in exchange for payments of one kind or another and promises. Before Confederation, Britain controlled the treaty making process. After Confederation, the federal government took control of the treating making process.