大选专栏(II): 联邦政治 和选举常识
Canada’s Political System (II)

哈珀总理8月2日周日解散议会,正式启动联邦大选。Bob Mok的选举专栏文章将继续介绍加国政治系统,包括议会职能和选举常识等。

Harper dissolved the parliament on Aug。2nd,Sunday, officially launching the federal election campaign. In his election column, Bob Mok continues to introduce the Canadian political system – including parliament functions and election basics.

For the earlier article in this series, please go to the following link:


A designated election date this year (October 19, 2015) was set forth in the Canada Elections Act. By this Act, a general election is to be held on the third Monday of October in the fourth calendar year following the polling day for the preceding general election. This does not impede the Governor General of Canada to call an election at any time prior to that date. Such an act of the royal prerogative is carried out on the advice of the Prime Minister which, by convention and tradition, the governor general must almost always follow.


The voters do not elect a Prime Minister directly on Election Day. He or she is the leader of the political party with the most elected members. Sometimes, a Prime Minister is replaced by the ruling party members through retirement or internal leadership race between Federal Elections.


Cabinet Ministers are responsible for portfolios relating to federal matters. The Prime Minister selects the Cabinet ministers and is responsible for the operations and policy of the government. Federal Cabinet ministers are responsible to the elected parliamentary representatives. This means that they must retain the “confidence of the House” and have to resign if they are defeated in a non-confidence vote.


The Political Party with the most elected members on Election Day becomes the Ruling party. If more than half of the parliamentary seats go to a political party, they have the “Majority” in the House and cannot be defeated during its term unless it is toppled by its own members. If not, the Party with the most seats forms a “Minority” government and must work with the other parties and compromise on political issues. A “Minority” Government must be able to muster up sufficient votes in parliament to pass important legislation, especially to be able to pass the government's budget. It also needs sufficient votes to defeat votes of no-confidence in the government or face dissolution of Parliament and a General Election.


Members of Parliament represent their constituents in one of the 338 ridings throughout the country. Ridings are organized by population and geographic boundaries. They ranged from 30,000 people each in Yukon to over 150,000 people in parts of Ontario.


Individual MP’s who are not cabinet ministers can introduce a private member’s bill that follows the same legislative process as a government bill. In reality, only very few are passed.


On Election Day, each riding winner is selected by the “first past the post” polling system. Registered Voters go to designated Polling Stations and cast their ballot in secret, making their choices behind shielding boxes.

When we are dealing with issues and laws governed by Federal Politics, we must seek out our representing MP’s to work for us. For example, this can be a dialog with the Cabinet Minister through our MP to request the exercise of discretionary powers on existing immigration rules and regulations.


Please be aware that Canadian citizens who have lived abroad for more than five years can no longer vote in the upcoming Federal Election!A recent Court of Appeal ruling stated that to allow Canadians who have lived abroad for more than five years to vote in federal elections would be unfair to those who live in Canada.


An Elections Canada registration confirmation card is not enough to get you a ballot at the Polling station on Election Day - other forms of identifications or vouching are required. This requirement was challenged in Court and defeated.


We will focus on the Provincial Political system next time…

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