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Topic – The Federal Level of Government

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The Federal Level of Government

The federal government is the main system of government in Canada. The federal level of government handles important matters such as keeping our country safe, lawmaking, banking, the postal system, and foreign relations. The federal government is also involved in transportation, communication, immigration, health, and environmental matters.

The Senate of Canada in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, Ontario

The federal government of Canada is organized into three main branches:

Legislative Branch: where all the laws are made and put into action by different federal departments

Judiciary Branch: where all laws are controlled and made clear through the courts

Executive Branch: where the government’s day-to-day work is done

Legislative Branch

The Legislative Branch is made up of the two houses of Parliament.

House of Commons in Ottawa

The first “house” is called the House of Commons. People must be elected to be a member of the House of Commons.

The second “house” is called the Senate. People are appointed by the prime minister to be in the Senate.

The House of Commons is in Ottawa and is the centre of the federal government. It consists of 301 Members of Parliament who are elected by Canadians. Each Member of Parliament holds a seat in the House of Commons. This is where the Members of Parliament meet to discuss issues and to pass laws. People can sit in the visitor’s gallery and listen to MPs discussing government business.

The political party with the most members elected forms the government. The leader of the party that forms the government becomes the prime minister. The party that has the second most elected members is called the Official Opposition. Their leader is called the Leader of the Opposition. The Official Opposition’s job is to question the government’s plans to improve them. At the House of Commons, there is a special job called the Speaker of the House. The Speaker of the House is like a referee and makes sure all Members of Parliament play by the rules.

The Senate is the second “house” of Parliament. The Senate consists of 104 members who are appointed to their position by the government. They meet in their own special room called the Senate Chamber, which is located in the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. Senators must retire when they are 75 years old. The prime minister appoints new senators when vacancies become available. Prime ministers usually select people from their own political party to become senators. The Senate has very little power and is not able to make new laws.

The Senate does three main things:

After a bill is passed in the House of Commons, the Senate must also pass it, before the bill becomes an official law.

Before a bill is debated in the House of Commons, senators give their input to make the bill better.

A Senate inquiry can be used to help investigate problems of national importance such as child poverty or unemployment.

Canada’s court system settles disagreements between individuals, organizations, and governments

Judiciary Branch

The Judiciary Branch is responsible for applying and interpreting laws through Canada’s court system. Canada’s federal judiciary is made of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court, and the Provincial and Territorial Courts. Canada’s court system settles disagreements between individuals, organizations, and governments. Established in 1875, the Supreme Court of Canada is the final place where a challenge to a law or ruling can be made. It is the highest court in all of Canada, and the Supreme Court’s decisions are final.

Executive Branch

The Executive Branch is where all the day-to-day operation of the government happens. The Executive Branch is made up of the prime minister and his or her cabinet. Sometimes cabinet members are appointed by the prime minister to take on special responsibilities called a “minister’s portfolio.” Some examples of portfolios are the Minister of Finance, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, or the Minister of Immigration. The work done in the Executive Branch by the prime minister and his or her cabinet helps to shape the policies and the actions of the government.

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