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Political Parties In Canada

Brief Political Party FAQ

Who are the candidates in my riding?

Nominations close at 2:00 p.m. on the 21st day before election day. Candidates have until 5:00 p.m. on that day to withdraw. Each returning officer has 48 hours after the close of nominations to verify and accept the nomination papers. A list of candidates for all ridings is published on the Elections Canada web site after the confirmation of the candidates which takes place by 2:00 p.m., 19 days before election day. To find out who the candidates were in the last election, click on "Electoral Districts". If you don't know the name of your riding, call 1 800 INFO-VOTE (1 800-463-6868).

Who can become a candidate?

The right to be a candidate in a federal election is written into the Constitution of Canada. Any Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years of age when filing nomination papers may be a candidate in an election, unless he or she is specifically disqualified under the Canada Elections Act.

Where can I find financial information on political parties or candidates?

Click here for detailed financial information on political parties and candidates.

What is a registered political party?

Since 1974, political parties have had the option of registering with the Chief Electoral Officer. Registration offers political parties status under the Canada Elections Act and brings with it certain obligations and benefits. Click here for more information about this subject.

Political Parties

Canada has a number of Political Parties that represent the views of people all across Canada. However, it is important to note that you do not have to be a member of a political party to become a member of the House of Commons.

There are parties that are registered with Elections Canada that have seats in the House of Commons, parties registered with Elections Canada that do not have seats in the House of Commons and parties that are not registered with Elections Canada (but are eligible to) and do not have seats in the House of Commons. (Kind of wacky - isn't it?) The parties are listed below. 

Parties with seats in the House of Commons. The order of the parties presented is by the amount of seats. These are the parties that have or currently played the largest roles in Canadian politics. 

The Liberal Party The Bloc Quebecois
The Conservative Party The New Democratic Party

The Liberal Party
The Liberal Party (Grits) is one of Canada's oldest and one of the most successful in Canada. The second Prime Minister of Canada, the Honourable Alexander Mackenzie, was a member of the Liberal Party. The Liberals are very much on the center of the political spectrum in Canada. It has in past years leaned to the left and more recently leaned slightly to the right. The Liberal Party is the current government in the House of Commons. It's current leader is the Prime Minister of Canada Paul Martin.

The Conservative Party
Technically speaking, this is Canada's newest political party. It has been formed out of an "alliance" of the Canadian right wing parties: the Canadian Alliance (which was supposed to be an "alliance" of the Progressive Conservatives (Tories)) and the remaining Tories. The hope is that unification of the two parties will defeat the Liberals in the election and overcome a split in the right wing vote that has existed since the 1993 election.  The current party leader is Stephen Harper.

The party has had quite the ride in getting to where it is today. Originally, this movement can trace its roots to two sources. The first is the "Conservative Party" which became the Progressive Conservative party. This party was one of the oldest parties in Canada. The first Prime Minister of Canada was a Conservative. Until recently the federal PC party was one of the strongest in Canada. However in the last 3 elections the PC party has suffered. In 1993 it did not even achieve official party status. As of the 1997 and 2000 elections the PC party regained and maintained Official Party Status in the House of Commons. However, the party never really regained its former strength as the right wing vote continued to be split and a merge with the Reform/Conservative Alliance looked more favourable. 

The other side of the coin is the Canadian Alliance. This party had its roots in the Social Credit Party (which in turn has its origins in the earlier parts of this century - confused yet?). Neither the CA, Reform Party or the Social Credit Party has ever formed the government. Much of the CA's party's support came from Western Canada. The party's predecessor, the Reform Party, was not able to gain much support in Central and Eastern Canada. As well, (due to some of its policies) did not run in Quebec. It did, however, place second in many ridings throughout Canada.

The two parties merged in late 2003 (with many of the protesters and dissenters turning to the Liberals) and became the Official Opposition in the House of Commons.

The Bloc Quebecois
The Bloc Quebecois (the Bloc) party is the second newest of the 5 major parties in Canada. It has never formed the government but has formed the Official Opposition.. The position of the Bloc Quebecois on the political spectrum is debatable. The point of the party is to achieve the Separation of Quebec from Canada.  Many of the members are former Conservatives that left the party after the failure of the Charlottetown Accord in 1992 which would make it right-wing. However, the separatist movement in Canada has traditionally been an ultra-left movement in Quebec. Therefore many of their members are left-wing as well. Also there are some former members of the Liberal party. This puts it in an odd place. The party only runs in Quebec but Quebec's large number of seats in the House of Commons allowed it to form the Official Opposition. It has done very well in that province but it did lose some seats in the last federal election. The Bloc is currently the Third Party in the House of Commons and Opposition Status. It's leader is The Honourable Leader of the Third Party Gilles Duccepp.

The New Democratic Party
The New Democratic Party (NDP), like the Reform Party, has a predecessor in the CCF Party. Neither the NDP or the CCF has ever become the government. The NDP is a left-wing party. Much of the NDP's support has come from various areas in Canada throughout the years. Sometimes in Ontario, Western Canada and now, for the first time in Atlantic Canada. The NDP have also repeatedly won in the Yukon and the NWT. The NDP, who suffered in the 1993 election came back in the 1997 and regained Official Party Status. (14 seats needed in the House of Commons) It's leader is Jack Layton.  The NDP currently has Opposition Status in the House of Commons.

Political Parties without seats in the House of Commons and are registered with Elections Canada. For the most part, these parties have not played a major part in Canadian politics - (ie: most of these parties could be considered what is commonly referred to as "fringe"). Parties are presented in alphabetical order.

Canadian Action Party

In their own words: "CAP is concerned that real democracy is being strangled by the iron grip of big banks and supra-national corporations which want to run the world their way for their benefit at the expense of the vast majority. Globalized financial markets do not spur development worldwide. On the contrary, they contribute to the impoverishment of millions of people in Canada, Europe and the developing countries of Africa and South East Asia."

Christian Heritage Party

In their own words: "Party principles are based on these Biblical ethics and are unalterable: There is one Creator God, eternally existent in three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Holy Bible to be the inspired, inerrant written Word of God and the final authority above all man's laws and government. Civil government to be under the authority of God. The purpose of civil government is to ensure freedom and justice for a nation's citizens by upholding law and order in accordance with Biblical principles. Decision-making processes by civil government must not in any way contravene these Biblical ethics.

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist)

In their own words: "The principle that all people have claims on the society by virtue of being human must be held as the overriding principle of the society, along with gender equality and freedom of conscience and lifestyle. A new, modern, truly democratic society in which people are sovereign is the urgent requirement for Canadians to enter the 21st century free of the legacy of the countryís 19th century colonial foundation. The creation of such a society is the immediate aim of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), consistent with its long-term aim of creating a socialist society as the transition to communism, which will usher in a classless society."

The Green Party

In their own words: "In Canada, we are living in a wake of negligence resulting from many incidents of government/corporate/military/financial collusion. This collusion has been perpetrated through our society's condoning of corporate "donations" to political parties. During the last federal election, the Reform/Canadian Alliance, Liberal and Conservative Parties received donations from the following industries and corporations: banks and financial institutions, coal, oil, gas, forest, automobile, chemical, mining, nuclear, arms producers, agribusiness, pharmaceutical, and of course, in the case of Reform, the gun lobby. The correlation between funding of political parties and the formulation and implementation of the policy of those political parties has been virtually ignored. It is time to be bold, and to change in the 21st century."

Parties without representation in the House of Commons and are not registered with Elections Canada (but are eligible to do so if they wish).

The Communist Party of Canada

In their own words: "The CPC is a party of action, with a long record of fighting for working people. We believe that the real source of economic crises, unemployment, exploitation and oppression is capitalism itself. Communists are working to build a broad, united and effective fightback today, to help advance the struggle for more far-reaching changes in the years ahead...Our long-term goal is social emancipation and genuine people's power: a socialist Canada, where the main industries and resources will be socially owned and democratically controlled. By directing Canada's economic development, working people can achieve real economic and social gains, build an equitable and genuinely democratic society, defend our sovereignty, and protect the environment."

The Marijuana Party

In their own words: "Many of today's issues are very important. However we consider that choosing to act on these issues is what really counts. Whatever the issue, we must take the necessary steps to achieve our goals. A political party based on the marijuana issue? Why not? The steps taken to end marijuana prohibition in Canada have never included this type of initiative. New Zealand has a similar party, the ALCP, and since it's conception the marijuana issue has made very significant progress there. We can only achieve our goals by standing firmly together. if we are to realistically resolve this serious social issue, unity within the marijuana movement must be a top priority. Only then will we become a genuine vehicle for significant change."

Deregistered Parties


The Natural Law Party of Canada

In their own words: "By Natural Law we mean those laws or rules by which natureís intelligence governs the growth and evolution of all life in the universe from levels smaller than sub-atomic particles to out beyond the farthest galaxies. Natural Law is found within us, regulating our physiology, and it is all around us pervading everything... There are innumerable laws of nature and whether known or unknown, they regulate the development and evolution of life. Gravity is a law of nature that is familiar to all of us. Another example from physics is the law that every action has a reaction. This principle is also described by the ancient saying "As you sow, so shall you reap." Whatever action is performed, the reaction will come back to the performer. Thatís why itís important not to violate Natural Law, and why our party emphasizes the importance of gaining the support of the laws of nature to ensure happiness and progress in the life of the individual and the nation."


Political Parties who lost their eligibility to become registered

National Alternative Party of Canada (section 369(2))

The Ontario Party of Canada (section 369(2))

Absolutely Absurd Party (section 367, withdrawal of application)