In Canada’s system of parliamentary government, political parties perform a number of different functions or tasks. The first is recruitment and election of political officeholders. Political parties enlist individuals to run in elections to become Members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Commons. The role of recruiter, however, does not end there. Under Canada’s , the political party with the most MPs in the House usually forms government. Once in power, the governing party (or its leader) is entitled to fill a broad range of positions in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. Examples include the , executive staff (to fill key roles in the ), the , members of the , and justices of the .
Since the 1990s, Canada has moved towards a multi-party system — one that has seen the evolution and rise of new parties that challenged the traditional dominance of the Liberals and Progressive Conservative parties. Many of these new parties are or have been based around a particular region and its interests. The Bloc Québécois, for example, runs candidates only in the province of Quebec, with Quebec nationalism serving as its key policy plank. The Reform Party (and its later incarnation, the Canadian Alliance) was a western-based party that focused on themes including western alienation and seeking a voice for western interests in national politics.
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Other forms of liberalism, however, would view this system as being very fair insofar as it ensures that smaller, less wealthy political parties have minimal resources to compete in elections. Public subsidies provide these parties with the financial ability to engage in activities they may not have otherwise been able to undertake, such as advertising on national television or radio. Moreover, restrictions on the amount of money that parties can spend during an election prevents wealthy parties from simply “buying” elections by outspending their competitors to such a level that smaller parties have no real chance.
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The delegate selection stage begins once the leadership convention has been formally announced. In selecting their leaders, Canadian federal political parties employ some form of a delegate voting system, in which local constituencies and other party units are entitled to send delegates to the convention. Delegates form the electorate of the convention, voting in favour of their preferred candidate. Once delegates have been chosen, the campaign stage begins. Candidates will focus their attention on the delegates in an attempt to build as much support as possible. The final stage is the leadership convention itself, in which delegates congregate and vote to determine which candidate will be selected leader. Conventions can often involve a series of ballots, until one candidate receives a majority of the delegate votes.
are remain functions of social values and political will
Beginning in the 1920s, national politics in Canada began to move away from a strict two-party system to a multi-party system or, more precisely, a two-and-a-half party system. There was the rise of new parties, such as the Progressives and the CCF/NDP, which had significant impacts on Canadian politics These new parties, hwoever, were never able to actually form a government (hence, the term “two-and-a-half” party system). It is important to further note that while the Liberals and Conservatives continued to be the two major political parties, the Liberals formed the government for most of the period 1921-63.
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In any discussion of Canadian political parties, regionalism is always a key issue, though regionalism is not a new phenomenon in Canada’s party system. During the first half of the twentieth century, the country experienced the rise of several western-based regional parties, such as the Progressives, the Social Credit, and the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF). Nevertheless, in the current context, the significance of regionalism and its impact on Canada’s parties, party system, and democracy is an absolute.