Formally, a PM is appointed by the GOVERNOR GENERAL who has little discretion in the matter, except in a crisis such as the death of the incumbent PM. Although the position and responsibilities of office are not defined in any statute or constitutional document, the PM has always been the most powerful figure in Canadian politics. The PM controls the party, speaks for it, and after appointment to office has at his or her disposal a large number of PATRONAGE appointments with which to reward party faithful. The PM appoints and dismisses all members of CABINET and allocates their responsibilities.
As chair of Cabinet, the PM controls the agenda and discussions at meetings and selects the members of Cabinet committees. Because of these factors and the convention of party solidarity, the PM has great influence over the activities and agenda of PARLIAMENT. The PM also enjoys a special relationship with the CROWN, as he or she is the only person who can advise the governor general to dissolve Parliament and call an election. In recent years the PM has chosen a personal staff for advice on policy. This enables the PM to have a direct influence on policy discussions and committee decisions, making it highly unlikely that any policy proposal not meeting approval will be put into effect.
Political reality, various conventions and the CONSTITUTION do limit the power of the PM. The PM must always be wary of offending the various regions of the country and must be able to conciliate competing factions within the party and the Cabinet and throughout Canada. The PM must also be able to delegate authority without losing control. This requires rare qualities and few prime ministers, if any, have been generously endowed with all of them. The prime minister's official residence is located at 24 SUSSEX DRIVE, Ottawa.
See also PRIME MINISTERS: TABLE.
Author W.A. MATHESON
Links to Other Sites
Diefenbaker Canada Centre
This University of Saskatchewan website is devoted to the life and career of John Diefenbaker, Canada's 13th prime minister.
Conservative Party of Canada
The official website for the Conservative Party of Canada.
First Among Equals
Learn about the private lives and political careers of Canada’s Prime Ministers. Includes biographies, speeches, and other historical documents. A Library and Archives Canada website.
Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers
Check this site for photos and information about specific grave sites of former Prime Ministers of Canada. From the website for the National Program for the Grave Sites of Canadian Prime Ministers.
Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech
This website features the text of the Honourable Lester Bowles Pearson’s acceptance speech upon presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957. Produced by The United Nations Association in Canada.
Laurier Museum National Historic Site
Learn about the life and times of Sir Wilfrid Laurier in this virtual tour of the Laurier Museum National Historic Site.
Louis S. St. Laurent National Historic Site of Canada
This Parks Canada site commemorating the childhood home of Louis S. St. Laurent features a profile of the life and political career of the former Prime Minister. Also includes an extensive overview of the prominent domestic and international political issues during his tenure.
Laurier House National Historic Site
This Parks Canada website features a historical profile of two Canadian Prime Ministers, Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King, as well as an interactive virtual tour of Laurier House (National Archives of Canada) in Ottawa.
Bellevue House National Historic Site
This Parks Canada site in Kingston, Ontario is the former home of Sir John A. Macdonald, Prime Minister of Canada (1867-73, 1878-91). Check out the detailed overview of the life and political career of Sir John A. Macdonald.
The Hill Times
The website for the Canadian newsweekly "The Hill Times." Features news and opinion about Canadian federal politics.
How Canadians Govern Themselves
See an online version of Eugene Forsey's very readable book about Canada's parliamentary system of government. Also compares Canadian and American forms of government. Includes biographical notes on the author. From the Parliament of Canada.
Prime Ministers of Canada
This unique collection highlights the political and electoral histories of our Prime Ministers and includes biographical details. From the Parliament of Canada.
House of Commons Heritage Collection
The House of Commons Heritage Collection features objects ranging from sculpture and furniture to official portraits, historical paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, murals, and frescoes.
The Leaders & Legacies series
A fun promotional vidoe that showcases books about Canadian history. From Fireside Publishing House on YouTube.
24 Sussex Drive
Check out the virtual tour and illustrious history of 24 Sussex Drive, the official residence of the prime minister of Canada. From the National Capital Commission.
Privy Council Office
The website for the Privy Council Office (PCO), which provides essential advice and support to the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Provides an interesting overview of senior federal government operations.
Allan Gregg: Craig Oliver on Mulroney, Chretien & Harper
Craig Oliver relates his encounters with Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, and Stephen Harper. From TVO.
Fireside Publishing House
The website for Fireside Publishing House, which produces "Leaders & Legacies," a series about Canada’s Prime Ministers for younger readers.