Overview of the Canadian Parliamentary System


  • The Monarch (represented by the Governor General)
  • Senators
  • Members of Parliament (MPs)


  • Executive (the Monarch and Governor General, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet)
  • Federal departments (such as National Defence, Public Safety, and Citizenship and Immigration)


  • Monarch
  • Prime Minister
  • Cabinet members (Senators and MPs)
WORD BUILDER — Parliament or Government

These two words don’t mean the same thing! 

Parliament is the legislative (law-making) part of government, made up of the Monarch, the Senate and the House of Commons. For example, Parliament passed a bill.

Government has two meanings:

  • Generally, government refers to the management (governing) of a country.
  • Specifically, the Government consists of the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the federal departments they manage.

Three branches work together to govern Canada: the executive, legislative and judicial branches. The executive branch (also called the Government) is the decision-making branch, made up of the Monarch represented by the Governor General, the Prime Minister, and the Cabinet. The legislative branch is the law-making branch, made up of the appointed Senate and the elected House of Commons. The judicial branch is a series of independent courts that interpret the laws passed by the other two branches.

Parliament itself is made up of the following three parts: the Monarch, the Senate and the House of Commons.

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, which means that we recognize the Queen or King as the Head of State, while the Prime Minister is the Head of Government.