In his columns to introduce the political system in Canada, Bob Mok covers the provincial politics – from provincial parliaments to the election.
For the earlier article in this series, please go to the following link:
2) Provincial Government:
Just to rehash - The Federal Government generally deals with areas of law affecting the whole country such as defence, foreign policy, interprovincial trade and communications, currency, navigation, criminal law and citizenship. These are listed in the Constitution Act, 1867.
The ten (10) provincial government of each province is responsible for areas such as education, health care, some natural resources, and road regulations. In some areas, they share responsibility with the federal government. The three Territories have their own governments, with responsibilities that are given to them by the federal government.
October 4, 2018 will be our next Ontario Provincial election date. Voters go to the polls on the 1st Thursday in October every 4 years. Very similar to the Federal Government, the Premier can advise that the legislature be dissolved at any time prior to the fixed election date -- thus triggering an early election. In a minority government situation, an early election may be called in the event of a vote of non-confidence. Instead of the Governor General as the representative of the Monarch, we have the Lieutenant Governors appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. For the Territories, they are named “Commissioners”.
Again, the voters do not elect a Premier of a province directly on Election Day. He or she is the leader of the political party with the most elected members. Sometimes, a Premier is replaced by the ruling party members through retirement or internal leadership race between Provincial Elections. The Legislative Assembly of Ontario operates in the Westminster system of government. Its members are MPP’s (Member of Provincial Parliament). There are currently 107 seats in the Ontario Provincial Government and one seat is vacant.
A by-election is held whenever there is a vacancy in the legislative Assembly, although an imminent general election may allow the vacancy to remain until the dissolution of parliament. A by-election must be called within six months when there is a vacancy. Recently, a MPP resigned his seat to allow the leader of the Progressive Conservative party of Ontario (PC) to be elected into the Legislative Assembly through by-election. Patrick Brown won the party’s leadership race after the last Provincial Election and does not have a seat at this moment.
Provincial Cabinet Ministers are responsible for portfolios relating to provincial matters. The Premier selects the Cabinet ministers and is responsible for the operations and policy of the government. 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 the Provincial Parliament and a General Election.
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. Results are reported on television when all the Polling Stations are closed.
We will focus on the Municipal Political system next time…
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