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New Democratic Party (NDP)

Founded in 1961, the New Democratic Party (NDP) is a social democratic political party that has formed the government in several provinces but never nationally. Its current leader is Jagmeet Singh. In 2011, it enjoyed an historic electoral breakthrough, becoming the Official Opposition in Parliament for the first time. Four years later, despite hopes of winning a federal election, the NDP was returned to a third-place position in the House of Commons. It slipped to fourth place in the 2019 federal election, after a resurgence from the Bloc Québécois.

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Jody Wilson-Raybould Resigns from Cabinet Amid SNC-Lavalin Scandal

Jody Wilson-Raybould, who had been Justice Minister until a Cabinet shuffle on 14 January, resigned from Cabinet days after news broke that the Prime Minister’s Office allegedly pressured her to help Quebec construction firm SNC-Lavalin avoid facing criminal prosecution. In the wake of the news, Justin Trudeau’s principal secretary Gerald Butts resigned on 18 February and a federal hearing on the issue was held beginning on 20 February. In her testimony to the hearing on 27 February, Wilson-Raybould claimed that almost a dozen senior government officials made a “sustained effort” to convince her to drop charges against SNC-Lavalin. Trudeau disagreed with her recollection of events and claimed that he and his staff “always acted appropriately and professionally” on the matter.

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Alberta Premier Jason Kenney Fires Commissioner Investigating His Party

Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party (UCP) and newly elected premier of Alberta, fired Lorne Gibson, the provincial election commissioner amid an investigation by that commissioner into multiple alleged offences by the UCP. The commissioner had already fined the UCP tens of thousands of dollars for multiple infractions, including accepting illicit campaign donations and obstructing an investigation. Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley denounced the firing as “an attack on Alberta’s democracy.” The watchdog organization Democracy Watch later called on the RCMP to investigate the firing.

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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.

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BC Legislature Resumes After Spending Scandal

Speaker Daryl Plekas delivered the throne speech that reopened the BC Legislature following a spending scandal that rocked all three parties. After declaring in November 2018 that he had “established processes in the legislative assembly that are essentially bulletproof,” Legislative Clerk Craig James, along with sergeant-at-arms Gary Lens, were found to have approved thousands of dollars of inapporpriate spending on items ranging from liquor to a wood-chipper. James and Lens were suspended amid a police investigation and an impeding report by Plekas.

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Bob Rae

Robert Keith (Bob) Rae, CCOOntPC, lawyer, politician (born 2 August 1948 at OttawaOntario). A prominent lawyer, community activist and author, Rae has served as a federal (1978-82; 2008-2013) and provincial politician (1982-96), premier of Ontario (1990-1995), interim leader of the federal Liberal Party (2011-2013), and as a government-appointed official. In July of 2020, Rae was named Canadian ambassador to the United Nations. Rae's family had substantial ties to Ottawa; his father Saul had been a senior diplomat, while his brother John was a long-time advisor to former Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

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Sir John Abbott

John Joseph Caldwell Abbott, PC, QC, KCMG, lawyer, professor, businessman, politician and prime minister (born 12 March 1821 in St. Andrews East, Lower Canada [now Saint-André-d’Argenteuil, QC]; died 30 October 1893 in Montreal). Abbott was a leading authority on commercial law, a strong advocate of English Quebec’s business elite and an influential figure in many corporate and social organizations. He was the first Canadian-born prime minister, as well as the first to hold the position from the Senate rather than the House of Commons. He served as prime minister from 16 June 1891 to 24 November 1892.

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Liberal Party

The Liberal Party has dominated federal politics for much of Canada’s history, using the formula for success of straddling the political center developed under the leadership of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Liberals have formed numerous governments and provided Canada with 10 prime ministers, but the party has also experienced defeat and internal divisions. In the election of October 2015, the party rose from third to first place in the House of Commons, winning a majority government under leader Justin Trudeau. The Liberals won a minority government in the 2019 election.

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Elizabeth May

Elizabeth May, OC, politician, environmental activist, lawyer, author, leader of the Green Party of Canada 2006–19 (born 9 June 1954 in Hartford, Connecticut). May served as a policy advisor (1986–88) to the government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and in 1989 became the founding executive director of the Sierra Club of Canada. In 2011, she became the first Green Party member elected to the House of Commons. May resigned as party leader in November 2019.

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Chrystia Freeland

Christina Alexandra “Chrystia” Freeland, politician, journalist, editor and writer, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, 2019–present (born 2 August 1968 in Peace River, Alberta). Chrystia Freeland is the Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for University-Rosedale and currently serves as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. She is the first woman in Canada to hold the latter position. She has also served as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of International Trade. Notably, she handled the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as well as complicated diplomatic situations involving Ukraine, Russia, Saudi Arabia and China. Freeland is an award-winning journalist, editor and author of such books as Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (2012).

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Pacific Scandal

The Pacific Scandal (1872–73) was the first major political scandal in Canada after Confederation. In April 1873, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald and senior members of his Conservative government were accused of accepting election funds from shipping magnate Sir Hugh Allan in exchange for the contract to build the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway. The affair stung Macdonald and forced the resignation of his government in November 1873, but it didn’t destroy him politically. Five years later, Macdonald led his Conservatives back to power and served as prime minister for another 18 years.

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Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir Wilfrid Laurier, prime minister of Canada 1896–1911, lawyer, journalist, politician (born 20 November 1841 in St-Lin, Canada East; died 17 February 1919 in Ottawa, ON ). As leader of the Liberal Party 1887–1919 and prime minister 1896–1911, Laurier was the dominant political figure of his era.

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PCs Win Minority Government in PEI, Green Party Becomes Official Opposition

Two months after becoming party leader, Dennis King led the Progressive Conservatives to a minority government in PEI with 12 seats and 36.5 per cent of the popular vote. Peter Bevan-Baker and the Green Party became the official opposition with 8 seats and 30.6 per cent of the vote, the best-ever showing for the party in a provincial or federal election.

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Jason Kenney and United Conservative Party Win Alberta Election

The United Conservative Party, formed in 2017 by a merging of the Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party, won a majority government in the Alberta provincial election. They secured 63 seats with 54.9 per cent of the popular vote, compared to 24 seats and 32.7 per cent of the vote won by Rachel Notley and the NDP.  Jason Kenney, who ran on a platform to scrap the carbon tax, cut the corporate tax rate from 12 to eight per cent and hold a referendum on equalization payments if there is no progress on pipelines, became the 18th premier of Alberta.

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Justin Trudeau

Justin Pierre James Trudeau, PC, 23rd prime minister of Canada 2015–present, teacher, public issues advocate (born 25 December 1971 in Ottawa, ON). The son of Pierre Trudeau, the former prime minister, Justin has repeatedly defied expectations. In 2007, he won the Liberal nomination in the Montréal riding of Papineau, beating the establishment’s candidate. A year later, he was elected to the House of Commons, confounding pundits who insisted the Trudeau name was political poison among francophone voters. After winning the Liberal Party leadership in 2013, Trudeau propelled the party from third place to first in the House, becoming prime minister at the head of a majority government in 2015. Although Trudeau’s Liberals lost support in the 2019 election, they won enough seats to form a minority government.

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Tommy Douglas

Thomas Clement (“Tommy”) Douglas, CC, premier of Saskatchewan, first leader of the New Democratic Party, Baptist minister and politician (born 20 October 1904 in Falkirk, Scotland; died 24 February 1986 in Ottawa, Ontario). Douglas led the first socialist government elected in Canada and is recognized as the father of socialized medicine in Canada. He also helped establish democratic socialism in mainstream Canadian politics.

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Leo Kolber

Ernest Leo Kolber, OC, businessman, philanthropist, senator (born 18 January 1929 in Montreal, QC; died 9 January 2020 in Montreal). Leo Kolber was a pillar of Canada’s business, political and philanthropic communities for more than 50 years. He was perhaps best known as a long-time advisor to the Bronfman family. Kolber also ran the successful real estate firm Cadillac Fairview Corporation, as well as holding companies that administered the Bronfman family trust. He served in the Senate of Canada from 1983 to 2004, most notably as chairman of the Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. He was also the Liberal Party’s chief fundraiser for many years and chair of the Advisory Council on National Security from 2005 to 2007. An Officer of the Order of Canada, he was recognized for his many charitable and philanthropic contributions.