Canadian Political Parties—What They Represent

Updated on February 24, 2017
Centre of Power in Canada - Parliament Buildings
Centre of Power in Canada - Parliament Buildings


Canada is a constitutional Democracy, with its Head of State Queen Elizabeth II. She is represented by the Governor General, who is presently David Johnson.

The governing authority of Canada is vested in Parliament, which consists of an appointed Senate and a House of Commons, comprised of 308 elected members. The party with the most seats generally forms the government. 155 seats are required to form a majority government. A party that wins an election with less than 155 seats forms a minority government, which requires the co-operation of other parties to pass legislation. The Prime Minister leads the government, which is presently Conservative and led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

There are five parties represented in Canada's latest Parliament—they are:

  • The Conservative Party of Canada - Leader: Stephen Harper;
  • The New Democratic Party - Leader: Interim Leader Nicole Turmel
  • Liberal Party of Canada - Interim Leader: Bob Rae
  • Bloc Quebecois - Interim Leader - Vivian Barbot
  • Green Party - Leader: Elizabeth May - only party member elected

Conservative Party of Canada

Conservative Party of Canada
Conservative Party of Canada

Conservative Party of Canada

The Conservative Party of Canada emerged from Alberta as the Reform Party under Preston Manning. Since the conservative vote was divided, although it had successes, conservatives never had a chance to defeat the governing Liberals. Eventually, the party became the Alliance Party and later merged with the Progressive Conservative Party to become the Conservative Party of Canada. It's first and present leader is Stephen Harper.

The Conservative Party is the present governing party in Canada. Since 2005 Stephen Harper led a minority government and in the election in May, he won a majority government. The Party holds 166 of the 308 seats in Parliament.

The Party, similar to the GOP stands for lower taxes, smaller government, more decentralization of federal government powers to the provinces, and a tougher stand on "law and order" issues.

During the last election, the Conservative Party ran on the Canada Action Plan, with a budget already introduced during the previous session. It has promised Senate reform, including term limits. One of the mainstays of the Reform Party was a EEE (Elected, Equal and Effective) Senate. Harper may be able to achieve the Elected and Effective, however equal requires the approval of the provinces and Quebec and Ontario are not likely to give up their present number advantage.

New Democratic Party of Canada
New Democratic Party of Canada

The New Democratic Party

The New Democratic Party evolved from the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, which was a movement that emerged from Saskatchewan. The newly formed Canadian Labour Congress started negotiating with the CCF in 1956 to bring about a merger of the organized labour and the political left. In 1961 the New Democratic Party emerged, led by former Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas. The present leader of the Party is Thomas Mulcair, who was confirmed with 92% of delegates on April 14, 2013. The party's popular leader Jack Layton passed away on August 22, 2011. The Party holds 103 of 308 seats in Parliament and is the official opposition.

The New Democratic Party stands for many issues embraced today in the Democratic Party. The party embodies gender equality and equal rights for the LBGT community, improving environmental protection, national water standards, reducing poverty and increasing corporate taxes while decreasing taxes for small business. It further promotes aggressive human rights protection, including the support of the "Idle no more" movement, improving public transportation, improving universality of health care, to include prescription drug coverage and dental care.

In the field of social issues, it also supports social assistance to permit citizens to re-enter the workforce, workers rights, aboriginal rights,

In other issues the party wants to renegotiate the free trade agreement, abolishing the unelected Senate, ending the war on drugs and legalizing recreational drugs.

During the 2013 national convention, the party removed the word socialist from its preamble, replacing it with a democratic socialist party. It is working to become the governing party in the next election.

Liberal Party of Canada

Liberal Party of Canada
Liberal Party of Canada

Liberal Party of Canada

The Liberal Party of Canada has a long history of governing, governing for 69 years in the 20th Century. For the first 29 years of Confederation (1867) it was relegated to opposition. The Party describes itself as a left of centre party, but to the right of the NDP.

The Party is the party of Laurier, Lyon MacKenzie King, Pearson, Trudeau and Chretien. Pearson introduced the new Canadian Flag, a social network with the introduction of universal health care and the Canada Pension Plan and student loans.

Trudeau, a charismatic leader introduced his just society, invoked the War Measures Act during the October Crisis, when the Front Liberation. Trudeau repatriated the Canadian constitution in 1982, introduced official multiculturalism, official bilingualism and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Jean Chretien was Prime Minister from 1993 to 2003, when he resigned. He campaigned on renegotiating the Free Trade deal and on tearing up the Goods and Service Tax, neither of which happened. He snubbed George Bush by not becoming a participant in the invasion of Iraq, since it was not approved by the UN.

The party leadership was taken over by Paul Martin, who was a successful Finance Minister, balancing the budget, perceived by many, on the back of the provinces. Paul Martin was defeated in 2005 by Stephen Harper, who formed and ran a minority government until 2011 when he won a majority, and the Liberal Party was relegated to third-party status.

Leadership of the party was taken over by Stephane Dion and later by Michael Ignatieff. Neither was able to resonate with Canadians. Bob Rae took over the interim leadership of the party after Ignatieff's resignation after the May election.

On April 14, 2013 Justin Trudeau was confirmed as the new leader of the Liberal Party, with 80 percent support. He is the heir to his famous father, who was popular in the 70s.

Current policy positions of the party are introduction of a family care plan to assist those that are caregivers to elderly or ill persons, investment in higher education, deficit reduction and spending restraint, maintaining corporate tax at 2010 levels (19%), quadruple alternative energy production (wind, solar and biomass) and a national food policy to support farmers.

The party is presently in a rebuilding phase. The challenge will be for the party to distance itself from the NDP and also demonstrate differences with the governing Conservatives.

Bloc Quebecois
Bloc Quebecois

Bloc Quebecois

The Bloc Quebecois was formed of former Quebec members of the Conservative and Liberal Parties after the Meech Lake Accords was defeated. The Accord which was intended to persuade Quebec to sign the Canadian Constitution of 1982, offered five modifications, a recognition of Quebec as a distinct society, a constitutional veto for all provinces, increased provincial powers for immigration, financial compensation for provinces opting out of federal programs under their jurisdiction and provincial input in the appointment of Supreme Court judges. When the Accord failed to pass in a referendum, it caused the exodus of the two major political parties.

The parties mandate is primarily to promote Quebec sovereignty at the federal level. It only runs candidates in Quebec. During the recent election it suffered heavy losses, primarily picked up by the NDP, and only holds 4 of 308 seats in the House of Commons. Vivan Barbot is the party's interim leader after Gilles Duceppe's resignation.

Green Party of Canada
Green Party of Canada

Green Party of Canada

Last but not least is the Green Party of Canada. The party promotes, well basically, everything green. The parties platform reflects its core ecological values, social justice, grassroots democracy, and non-violence. The party hopes to tackle environmental as well as other social issues. It received less than 4% of the popular vote during the 2011 election.

The party is being led by Elizabeth May, who is the first elected Green Party Member of Parliament, and she recently voted against extending the war in Libya, while the remainder of Parliament voted in favour of the extension.

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        yeet a yote 

        6 months ago

        dont ask who joe is

      • profile image

        Maxime Bernier 

        6 months ago

        This was made in like 2011.

      • profile image

        Interested reader 

        17 months ago

        time to update this page!

      • profile image


        18 months ago

        Why everything is words

        All false R for my project

      • profile image

        james jimmy 

        18 months ago

        why you bully me? shut up loser

      • profile image


        7 years ago

        Thank you. Saved me a lot of time on my research!

      • albertacowpoke profile imageAUTHOR


        8 years ago from Redwater, Alberta

        Thank you for commenting Lynda, very much appreciated.

      • albertacowpoke profile imageAUTHOR


        8 years ago from Redwater, Alberta

        Thank you for stopping by Ethel. I hope that the hub gives a good insight into Canadian politics.

      • lmmartin profile image


        8 years ago from Alberta and Florida

        Good explanation. Lynda

      • ethel smith profile image

        Ethel Smith 

        8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

        Great Hub. Comprehensive and full of information. Thanks for the insight into Canadian politics

      • albertacowpoke profile imageAUTHOR


        8 years ago from Redwater, Alberta

        Thank you for your comments hello hello. Nice to get positive feedback.

      • Hello, hello, profile image

        Hello, hello, 

        8 years ago from London, UK

        Thank you for this detailed and informative hub. If it wasn't for you I don't hear or read such detailed information. I mean that.

      • albertacowpoke profile imageAUTHOR


        8 years ago from Redwater, Alberta

        Thank you Susan, I appreciate your comments and thanks for your recommendation.

      • Just Ask Susan profile image

        Susan Zutautas 

        8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

        Great hub on explaining how our government works!

        Up, useful and awesome!

      • albertacowpoke profile imageAUTHOR


        8 years ago from Redwater, Alberta

        Doris, thank you for your kind remarks. There is a lot of misconception on how our system works. I hope that I have been able to make a small contribution towards clarifying it.

      • profile image

        Doris S 

        8 years ago

        Very interesting piece, as well as giving the reader a clear explanation of how the Canadian governing system works. I also liked the past history given for each party. Thanks for submitting this article.

      • albertacowpoke profile imageAUTHOR


        8 years ago from Redwater, Alberta

        I think the last federal election results in Quebec were amazing. How did the Bloc Quebecois have such a rapid decline. I think everyone was aware that the Liberals and Conservatives would not do so well. The sudden surge of the NDP was definitely a surprise. Whether you're an NDP supporter or not, Jack Layton is certainly a likeable individual.

      • Phil Plasma profile image

        Phil Plasma 

        8 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

        Hi ABCP, terrific non-partisan overview of the political array of parties here. You did a great job of giving a brief history and current status of each one.

        My riding here in Quebec stayed Liberal, though the NDP candidate was only about 2100 votes behind. Amazing since at the previous election the liberal candidate won by over 12000 votes.

      • albertacowpoke profile imageAUTHOR


        8 years ago from Redwater, Alberta

        Thank you for commenting Will. Very much appreciated

      • WillStarr profile image


        8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

        Very educational! Thank you.


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