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Encyclopedia > Opposition House Leader (Canada)

In Canada each political party with representation in the House of Commons has a House Leader who is a front bench MP and an expert in parliamentary procedure. 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.

They also argue Points of Order before the Speaker of the House. The House Leader is not the same as the party leader but, for Opposition parties is the leader's senior deputy. The Government House Leader is a senior cabinet minister who navigates the government's business in the House. This system is replicated in the various provincial legislatures. 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 Prime Minister of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition originally had these responsibilities. In 1944, however, as a result of the increasing burdens placed on government by the Second World War, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King delegated these responsibilities to another member of the Canadian Cabinet. In 1946 the position of Government House Leader was formally recognized.

The position of Opposition House Leader evolved in the 1950s as each Opposition party began to designate a particular MP to question the Government House Leader on upcoming House business. 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.

Notable Canadian House Leaders include Stanley Knowles of the NDP and its predecessor the CCF, Allan MacEachen and Herb Gray of the Liberal Party of Canada and Erik Nielsen of the Progressive Conservatives

  Results from FactBites:
Nielsen, Erik Hersholt (251 words)
He was minister of public works in the CLARK government 1979-80, deputy Opposition House leader 1980-81 and Opposition House leader 1981-83.
Brian MULRONEY named him deputy leader of the national PC Party in 1983, deputy prime minister and president of the Privy Council in 1984, and minister of national defence in 1985.
He became a target of Opposition attacks in the House for his alleged stonewalling tactics and penchant for secrecy and was dropped from Cabinet in June 1986.
  More results at FactBites »



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