Official Opposition (Canada)

From Academic Kids

Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in Canada is usually the largest parliamentary opposition party in the Canadian House of Commons that is not in government either on its own or as part of a governing coalition. This is usually the second-largest party in a legislative house, although in certain unusual circumstances, it may be a third or fourth party or even the largest party.

It is styled as "Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition" to show that, although the group may be against the sitting government, it remains loyal to the Crown (the embodiment of the Canadian state), and thus to Canada.

The current Official Opposition is the Conservative Party of Canada.

The Official Opposition is viewed as the party tasked with keeping the government in check. It is also generally viewed as the alternative government. The Official Opposition maintains a shadow cabinet of Members of Parliament (MPs) that often have the same portfolios as actual ministers. They are known as opposition "critics", or "spokespersons".

There are some benefits to being Official Opposition. The Official Opposition is the party that gets to speak first after the government, and gets more time in question period than any other party. It also gets more funding for research and staff than other parties.

From 1921 to 1924, the Progressive Party of Canada had more MPs than the Conservative Party, but it turned down the chance of being Official Opposition, and the position passed to the Tories.

As a result of the 1925 election, the Official Opposition was actually the largest party in the House of Commons, the Conservatives. The Liberals, led by William Lyon Mackenzie King, were able to form a minority government despite the fact that they had a dozen fewer seats than the Conservatives because King's Liberals were able to win the support of the Progressives to remain in government. Similarly, in Ontario, the Ontario Liberal Party was able to form a minority government from 1985 to 1987 despite having fewer seats than the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party because of the support of the Ontario New Democratic Party.

In 1993, the Reform Party challenged whether the Quebec sovereigntist Bloc Québécois could hold the position of official opposition. The Speaker ruled in favour of the Bloc, however.

The leader of the Opposition party is called the "Leader of the Opposition" and may live in Stornoway, the leader's official residence in Ottawa.

There is also an Official Opposition in the Canadian Senate. This is the largest party in the Senate that is not in government. As the governing party is determined in the House of Commons, the Official Opposition in the Senate may actually be larger than the government party in the Senate. It is customary, however, for the Senate to pass legislation approved in the House of Commons even if the government has a minority in the Senate.

The party that forms Official Opposition in the Senate is not necessarily the same party as in the House of Commons, however. From 1993 to 2003, the Official Opposition in the Senate was the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, even though the Bloc Québécois from the Official Opposition in the House from 1993 to 1997, followed by the Reform Party of Canada, and then the Canadian Alliance from 1997 to 2003. This is because the BQ, and Reform Party had no Senators. However, when Senator Gerry St. Germain crossed the floor from the Progressive Conservatives to the Canadian Alliance in 2000, he argued that he should be recognized as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate as the Canadian Alliance formed the Official Opposition in the House of Commons. The Speaker of the Canadian Senate ruled against him, however, as the Progressive Conservatives were the larger opposition party.

  Official Opposition Years

Template:Canadian politics/party colours/Liberal/row

Liberal Party 1867-1874

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Conservative Party 1874-1878

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Liberal Party 1878-1896

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Conservative Party 1896-1911

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Liberal Party 1911-1921

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Conservative Party 1921-1926

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Liberal Party 1926

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Conservative Party 1926-1930

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Liberal Party 1930-1935

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Conservative Party1 1935-1945

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Progressive Conservative Party 1945-1957

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Liberal Party 1957-1963

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Progressive Conservative Party 1963-1979

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Liberal Party 1979-1980

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Progressive Conservative Party 1980-1984

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Liberal Party 1984-1993

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Bloc Québécois2 1993-1997

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Reform Party2 1997-2000

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Canadian Alliance2,3 2000-2004

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Conservative Party4 2004-

Notes:

1 The Conservative Party became the Progressive Conservative Party in 1945.

2 House of Commons only. The Progressive Conservative Party formed the Official Opposition in the Senate during this period.

3 The Reform Party became the Canadian Alliance in 2000.

4 The Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party merged to form the Conservative Party in 2004.

See: Leader of the Opposition (Canada)

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