Overview of the Canadian Parliamentary System


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


  • Executive (the Monarch/Governor General, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet)
  • Federal departments (such as National Defence, Justice and Finance)


  • Monarch/Governor General
  • 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 (lawmaking) 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.