Democracy is a form of government in which power is ultimately held by the people. It is a continually evolving system that allows citizens to participate in the decision-making process, either directly through civic action or through their elected representatives in order to have a say in how they are governed.
Elected representatives are individuals chosen to represent the people's interests and make decisions on their behalf, they are accountable to the people who elected them, and they have a responsibility to act in the best interests of their constituents. These representatives meet in the Parliament of Canada which is made up of two entities:
Members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Commons are elected representatives who debate and vote on proposed laws and policies.
The government is formed by the party or coalition of parties that holds the majority of seats in the House of Commons.
MPs who belong to the governing party or parties are generally responsible for implementing the government's policies and programs, while MPs from opposition parties are responsible for scrutinizing and challenging the government's decisions.
The Prime Minister is the head of government and leads the party that holds the most seats in the House of Commons.
The Prime Minister is responsible for selecting and leading the Cabinet, which is the group of ministers who are responsible for various areas of government policy.
Senators are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister and also participate in the legislative process.
Holds the role in the Canadian government to act as a chamber of "sober second thought," by reviewing and provides feedback on legislation that has been passed by the House of Commons.
This can include amendments that clarify or improve the legislation, or that correct errors or omissions.
The Senate can also reject or delay the passage of bills, although this is a rare occurrence in practice.
The Senate also has the power to initiate its own legislation, although bills introduced in the Senate must still be approved by the House of Commons before becoming law.
Representation is an essential element of democracy because it allows for diverse voices to be heard and for decisions to be made that reflect the views and interests of the population as a whole. By electing representatives who are accountable to them, citizens can ensure that their concerns and priorities are reflected in the decisions made by their government.
Held at the federal, provincial, and municipal levels typically every 4 years.
Citizens who are 18 years or older and Canadian citizens are eligible to vote.
During an election, voters choose their preferred candidates or parties, who will represent them in government.
The party or coalition of parties that holds the most seats in the House of Commons forms the government.
Members of Parliament (MPs) are individuals who are elected to represent a geographic region, known as an electoral district or riding.
The Prime Minister is the leader of the governing party and has the power to appoint Cabinet ministers, who are responsible for overseeing specific areas of government policy.
Royal Assent is a process by which a bill passed by both the House of Commons and the Senate in Canada becomes law.
The process is typically ceremonial in nature and is the final stage in the legislative process, marking the formal approval of the bill by the monarch, or the monarch's representative in Canada, the Governor General.
Canadians have the right to express their opinions, participate in peaceful protests, and communicate with their elected representatives.
Citizens can also petition the government for change and submit comments on proposed legislation.
Form committees and engage in volunteerism in support of or against proposed legislation or ideology.
Citizens serving the public in roles at municipal, provincial, federal levels.
Elected officials are accountable to their constituents and must answer to them for their decisions and actions.
The media and opposition parties also play an important role in holding the government accountable.
Ceremony and tradition are important aspects of the Canadian parliamentary process. Many of the practices and procedures that are followed in Parliament have been developed over centuries, and are steeped in tradition and symbolism.
For example, the opening of each session of Parliament is marked by a ceremonial event known as the Speech from the Throne. During this event, the Governor General delivers a speech outlining the government's priorities and agenda for the upcoming session.
Other examples include the use of ceremonial maces, which are ornamental staffs that symbolize the authority of the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Speaker of the Senate, traditional garments such as robes and wigs, as well as the wearing of orders, decorations and medals by some parliamentary officials.
While these traditions and ceremonies may seem outdated to some, they are important symbols of Canada's history, and are intended to give weight and dignity to the parliamentary process. They also serve to remind parliamentarians of the importance and solemnity of their duties, and of the need to uphold the values and principles that underpin Canada's system of government.