Political Parties In Canada

When considering the political parties in Canada it is essential to know that Canada’s politics are based on parliamentary democracy and a federal structure of parliamentary government with strong democratic foundations.

The foundational principles of the Canadian government include peace, order, and good governance, as well as an Implied Bill of Rights. 

The emphasis on social justice has been a defining feature of Canadian political culture.  Canada has prioritized equality and inclusion for all of its citizens.

Brief History 

The British Parliament created Canada’s governmental framework with the British North America Act, of 1867 (now the Constitution Act, of 1867), but the federal model and separation of powers were designed by Canadian MPs.

Following additional deliberations and agreement between the British government and the governments of the Dominions, the British Parliament ratified the Statute of Westminster in 1931, granting legal recognition to Canada and the other Dominions’ autonomy.

This means that, before that date, modifications to Canada’s constitution required the permission of the British parliament.

Similarly, in the United Kingdom, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council made the final decision on criminal appeals until 1933 and on civil appeals until 1949.

The role of the British Parliament was not abolished until 1982, with the Patriation of the Constitution.

The word “Patriation” refers to the change of Canada’s Constitution from a British Parliament legislation to an independent Canadian Constitution amendable by Canada.

‘Patriation’ is also seen as an event in Canada’s evolving nationhood in popular and historical thinking since it indicated Canada’s full sovereignty.

The fact that the Constitution was brought home meant that the provincial and federal governments could adapt it to suit contemporary domestic interests.

As a result, in addition to the amending formula, the patriation package contained the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which established rights for Canadians, parts on equalization and natural resources to acknowledge provinces’ increased strength, and a piece acknowledging Aboriginal rights.

In Canadian political culture, there is a feeling of community duty, as seen by widespread support for public healthcare, diversity, gun control, international assistance, and other social initiatives ( like all Canadian government initiatives which aim at providing aid to individuals beyond what the market can supply).

Structure of Canada’s Political System

The political system of Canada is modeled after that of the United Kingdom. It is a constitutional monarchy, which means that the Queen or King is recognized as the Head of State, while the Prime Minister is recognized as the Head of Government.

The monarchy is inherited. The queen or king appoints the governor general on the suggestion of the Prime Minister for an indefinite tenure, though it is typically five years.

 Following parliamentary elections, the governor-general normally appoints the leader of the dominant party in the House of Commons as Prime Minister.

Canada had a two-party system during the first half-century following Confederation: Liberals and Conservatives. It was modeled after the one in the United Kingdom.

The political system in Canada is structured in a very hierarchical manner. It is based on single-member districts. In order to create a government, a political party must win a majority of electoral votes in a general election.

Starting from the Federal Government is made up of 3 parts: 

  • Head of state
  • House of Commons
  • The Senate 

The head of state is the King of Canada Charles III is a member of Canada’s Parliament officially represented by the Governor General.

The House of Commons is divided into geographical divisions known as “electoral districts,” often known as “ridings.” 

The number of electoral districts is determined by a mechanism outlined in the Constitution Act of 1867, and each electoral district elects one member of Parliament (MP).

The political parties in Canada with the most MPs form the government, and its leader is appointed Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister appoints MPs to serve as cabinet ministers. There are ministries in charge of citizenship and immigration, as well as justice and other issues. The cabinet makes critical policy choices for the government.

The Senate considers legislation introduced by the House of Commons.  Senators are appointed by the Prime Minister.

At the provincial level, there are two levels, there are the Lieutenant Governor who is the King’s representative and the Legislative Assembly which creates laws.

Members of the Provincial Parliament are elected representatives in Ontario (MPPs).

The Political Parties In Canada

There are three tiers of government in Canada. Each level of government is responsible for different things. We have the:

  • Federal Government is responsible for issues impacting the entire country, such as immigration, citizenship national defense, and international trade.
  • Provincial Governments are also known as Territorial governments which are in charge of things like education, health care, and transportation. Take, for example, the Province of Ontario.

They consist of Lieutenant Governor which represents the King and

The Legislative Assembly makes laws.

  • Municipal Government or Local governments are in charge of firefighting, city streets, and other local issues. Services are provided by the province if there is no municipal government.

From the explanation above we can now say that political parties in Canada are sub-divided into:

  1. National political parties and
  2. Provincial political parties

Political parties in Canada operate both nationally and locally. (Local Government and Provincial Government). Federal and provincial elections are all party elections in which candidates represent political parties. 

Municipal elections are contested by people rather than parties.

The provinces of Canada normally have a two-party system, but the parties are not always the same as those at the national level.

National political parties

The Liberal Party, the Conservative Party of Canada, the New Democratic Party (NDP), the Bloc Québécois, and the Green Party of Canada are Canada’s five major federal parties.

Provincial political parties

Provincial political parties sometimes have the same names or goals as national political parties.

There is no official contact between the Conservative Party of Canada and any provincial parties. The federal Liberal Party has more formal relationships with the provincial Liberal parties.

The electoral system in Canada is practiced through the system of   “first past the post.” 

Dominant national political Parties in Canada

Canada features what is known as a “two-party-plus” system. This means that the country is usually dominated by two large parties, one on the left and one on the right. 

The one on the left favors social reform and activist government, and the one on the right favors social tradition and limited government.  

  1. Liberal Party
  2. Conservative Party
  3. Bloc Québécois
  4. New Democratic Party
  5. Green Party

Liberal Party

It is both the country’s oldest and most successful political party. The Liberal Party of Canada is the current ruling party in Canada, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The contemporary Liberal Party presents itself as an economically reasonable but socially progressive party.

The party adheres to liberal views and normally lies in the center to center-left of the Canadian political system, with its adversary, the Conservative Party, to its right.

However, every province and territory in Canada has its own Liberal Party, although only New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island are politically and organizationally associated with the federal Liberal Party.

While other provincial Liberal parties may share ideological beliefs with the federal party, they are entirely independent institutions.

Provincial parties have their own policies, funding, membership, constituency groups, executives, conventions, and offices.

Conservative Party

The Conservative Party is Canada’s second-largest political party and the official opposition to Justin Trudeau’s ruling Liberals.

By merging the Progressive Conservative Party with the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance Party the party was founded in 2003.

It achieved a majority government in the 2011 federal election before being ousted by a majority Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau in the 2015 federal election.

Pierre Poilievre, is the current leader of the conservative party popularly known as the Official Opposition from September 10, 2022, to date.

If forced to characterize themselves, today’s Conservatives would say they support low tax rates, a smaller, less controlling government, a robust law-and-order system, a strong military, and regard for traditional values.

Bloc Québécois

The Bloc, founded in 1990 by former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Lucien Bouchard was Canada’s first national political party to openly endorse Quebec independence, and it remained the province’s most popular political party until recently.

Separatists are persons who advocate this ideology in Canadian political jargon, and the Bloc Quebecois is Canada’s major separatist political party.

However, under new leader Yves-François Blanchet, the party made a strong return in the 2019 general election. Blanchet is a former minister in the separatist administration that governed Quebec from 2012 to 2014; under his leadership, the Bloc has regained its previous losses and is now the third-largest party in Parliament. 

New Democratic Party

The New Democratic Party is a Canadian federal social democratic political party. 

The Co-operative Commonwealth Federation and the Canadian Labour Congress created the party in 1961. The party is located to the left of the Liberal Party on the political spectrum.

Canada’s New Democratic Party, originally known as the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), was founded during the Great Depression (1929-1939) as a doctrinaire socialist party dedicated to the democratic overthrow of the capitalist system and the implementation of a government-planned economy in its place.

Following a poor performance in the 2015 federal election, the NDP decided in 2016 to remove Mulcair, and in 2017  Jagmeet Singh was elected as their current leader till date. 

Green Party

The Green Party of Canada was formed on six basic principles approved by the Global Greens at their conference in 2002. These are the principles:

  • Respect for diversity
  • Ecological wisdom
  • Non-violence
  • Sustainability
  • Social justice
  • Participatory democracy

The Green Party of Canada was established in 1983 to advocate for environmental issues. Until 2004, the party sponsored a tiny number of candidates with minimal voter support.

Elizabeth Evans May OC MP is a Canadian politician who was the Green Party of Canada from 2006 until 2019. Annamie Paul, the first Black Canadian and Jewish woman to lead a major federal party, succeeded her as the leader.

Amita Kuttner is a Canadian astronomer and politician who has served as the Green Party of Canada’s temporary leader since November 24, 2021.


Political parties in Canada wield considerable power in the government. Without them, the Canadian legislative system would be unable to function.

Canadians have strong political ideas, therefore it should not be surprising that the nation is home to several political parties. With at least four national parties and several more at the provincial governments, keeping track of them all may be difficult at times.

Their party system can therefore be summarised as a two-party system dominated by the Liberal Party as the center-left and Conservative Party as the center-right.  

Its dominant third-place party has been the further-left NDP. The Bloc Quebecois is the fourth-place party, the Green Party of Canada is  Canada’s fifth “major party,” however it has never won more than three seats in a federal election.

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