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Encyclopedia > Government House Leader

Politics of Canada


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The Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, more commonly known as the Government House Leader, is the Cabinet minister responsible for planning and managing the government's legislative program in the Canadian House of Commons. The position is not legally entitled to cabinet standing on its own, so all Government House Leaders must simultaneously hold another portfolio. In recent years sinecure assignments have been used to give House Leaders cabinet standing while allowing them to focus entirely on house business.

The Government House Leader works on the government's behalf by negotiating with the House Leaders of the Opposition parties. This often includes discussion over timetables and may include concessions to demands by opposition parties to ensure quick passage of a Bill and possible opposition support. The position is especially crucial during periods of minority government when no party has a majority in the House and the government must rely on the support of one or more Opposition parties to not only pass its legislative agenda but remain in power. The holder of the position must be an expert in parliamentary procedure in order to argue points of order before the Speaker of the House of Commons as well as be a good strategist and tactician in order to outmanouever the opposition parties.

From 1867 until World War II, the Prime Minister of Canada took upon himself the responsibilities of being Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, organizing and coordinating House of Commons business with the other parties. The expansion of government responsibilities during the war led to William Lyon Mackenzie King deciding to designate one of his ministers to delegate those responsibilities. In 1946 the position of Government House Leader was formally recognized. In 1968, Pierre Trudeau designated the President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada the responsibilities of Government House Leader.

Under Brian Mulroney the roles of Government House Leader and President of the Privy Council were separated in 1989. Under Mulroney and his successors the House Leader position would often be the held by someone who was named a Minister of State without any portfolio responsibilities specified. Since 2003 this Minister of State status has been obscured in all but the most official circumstances by the use of a "Leader of the Government in the House of Commons" style in its place.

Paul Martin's first House Leader, Jacques Saada was also Minister responsible for Democratic Reform however, with a minority government being elected in the 2004 Canadian election, he appointed Tony Valeri to the position of Leader of the Government in the House of Commons with no additional responsibilities.

See List of Canadian Leaders of the Government in the House of Commons

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  Results from FactBites:
House Leader - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (337 words)
The House Leader is in charge of the party's day-to-day business in the Canadian House of Commons, and usually conducts negotiations with other parties on the conduct of Bills and debates.
The position of House Leader is especially important during periods of minority government where no one party has control of the House, and bills can only be passed with the agreement of several parties.
The title of Opposition House Leader became official in 1963, and in 1974, a special annual indemnity was attached to the position of House Leader in each of the opposition parties.
  More results at FactBites »



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