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What is the Canadian Model of Responsible Government

A Responsible Government is one that is structured to guarantee the rule of government in accordance with the well-understood wishes and interests of the people.

This structure is founded on a federal model of parliamentary government, where one house of parliament representing the common interests of the people is balanced against another representing their local interests.

Power to govern is legally vested in a Governor General, but the Governor General must exercise this power by authority of both houses of parliament. This authority is given through the advice of the leader of each house possessed of the confidence to speak and act on its behalf in the Governor’s council.

This constitutional structure harnesses the fears and ambitions of each of the three major political actors to prevent the abuse of power and guarantee legitimacy, efficiency and harmony in the government of the people.

In Canada, it was the intent of the Fathers of Confederation that the Senate should be appointed by the provinces and represent the people’s local interests, but this system was never implemented — leading to imbalance and excessive concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s Office.

THE INSTITUTE OF RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT MISSION

Our mission is twofold.

It is to bring an understanding of how the federal form and system of the British Constitution conceived by Confederation is structured to guarantee the rule of government in accordance with the well-understood wishes and interests of the people.

Given that the “system” of government is the sum of the practices by which the government exercises the powers of the State (through which it rules), it is to review these practices to ensure they respect constitutional principles so that the powers of the State are exercised by authority of the people, that is, with the consent of the governed.

Defining responsible government

Constitutional theory: understanding responsible government

For government to reflect the will of the people, it must be administered in accordance with constitutional principles.

The first step in building the model of Responsible Government is to understand these principles and how they were meant to operate in the federal model intended by Confederation.

This section is composed of several short newspaper sized articles and organized to permit you to raise questions, discuss and elaborate the concepts.

Constitutional practice: working out the model of responsible government

The second step in the quest of the Institute is to apply this understanding of these constitutional principles in the implementation of the Constitution Act,1867 to structure the model of Responsible Government intended by Confederation.

This section organises the conversation to recommend the practices that would best implement this intent.

Get involved

There is widespread concern about how government operates in Canada, but not much progress has been made on figuring out what to do about it. One way to move forward is by getting involved in the Institute for Responsible Government. In that way, you can be part of the effort to educate people and foster debate on the principles and practices of a government based on the well-understood wishes and interests of the people. There are several ways to get involved:

Know more

The Institute needs people to organize conferences and seminars, write briefs and press releases, edit and proofread, monitor the website and carry the conversation to social media, and organize local groups and Institute events.

Explore all oportunities

As a member, you can submit essays and case studies about various aspects of the theory and practice of Responsible Government and evaluate other members’ contributions. You also receive advance notice and priority access to Institute events and publications.

Become a member