Glossary of Terms

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Advocacy—acting or speaking in favour of a policy, cause, or idea. (Political advocacy means working to change government policy or legislation.)
Brief—a document summarizing important information on a certain subject.
Demonstration—a public event displaying the opinion of a group of people toward an issue, made by picketing, parading, etc.
One-page brief—a one-to-two page document summarizing the background and purpose of an advocacy campaign.
Petition—a formal request, bearing signatures of those making the request, that is addressed to a person or group of persons in authority or power (such as the House of Commons), soliciting an action on the part of the recipient(s).
Press Release—an announcement of an event or news item sent to the press by an organization, government agency, public relations firm, etc.


Structure of Government

Cabinet—the executive decision-making body of the government (at both federal and provincial levels). It approves departmental drafts of government bills and proposes them to the legislature.
Cabinet Minister—member of the Cabinet chosen by the Prime Minister. Each Cabinet Minister is the head of at least one department such as Foreign Affairs, Citizenship and Immigration, or the Environment.
Civil Service—those branches of public service concerned with all governmental administrative functions outside the armed services.
Governor General—the Queen’s representative in Canada. (The Queen is Canada’s head of state.)
House of Commons—the elected, lower house of Parliament. It is the principal means through which Canadians can participate in legislative decision-making.
Member of Parliament (MP)—an elected official in the House of Commons. Each MP represents a riding.
Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP), Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), or Member of the National Assembly (MNA)—elected representatives serving in provincial legislatures.
Opposition Party Critic—representatives from opposition parties responsible for presenting party policies in a certain area and critiquing government policy in that area.
Parliament—the legislative branch of the government, composed of the House of Commons and the Senate.
Prime Minister—head of the government of Canada and the chairman of the Cabinet, who is the leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons.
Riding—a geographical area with representation by one Member of Parliament in the House of Commons.
Senate—the upper house of Parliament, meant to act as a check and balance to the House of Commons. Senators are appointed by the Governor General, on the advice of the Prime Minister. Senators can remain in the Senate until age 75.



Act—A law made by Parliament or a provincial legislature.
Bill—a proposed act submitted to Parliament for approval. A bill becomes an act if it is passed (approved) by both Houses and receives royal assent.
Royal Assent—After a bill has been passed by the House and Senate, this is the final step in the passage of a bill through Parliament. At this stage, the Governor General approves the bill on behalf of the Queen.