Structures of government

Learn more about the three levels of government in Alberta federal, provincial and municipal (local). Each level is organized differently and each has its own roles and responsibilities.

Federal and provincial governments are elected through a representative democracy system. Areas of the country/province are divided up equally and each area votes on a political representative. Elected officials need to have the most total votes of all candidates. Governments are formed based on which parties have the majority of representatives voted in.

Municipal governments are not elected based on political parties, but rather through a group of independent candidates (councillors) who are led by a mayor. Voters in municipal elections in Alberta vote for their mayor and one or more councillors on regular 3-year intervals.

Federal

The federal government is made up of the Parliament of Canada, which consists the House of Commons (the "lower House") and the Senate (the "upper House"). The House of Commons is made up of Members of Parliament (MPs) from various political parties, while the Senate is made up of Senators appointed by the Prime Minister. The Governor General, Canada's representative of the Queen, oversees both houses. The House of Commons is the dominant branch of Parliament while both the Senate and the Governor General must approve proposed legislation.

The Prime Minister is Canada's political leader. This position is not elected directly by the people. The leader the political party that holds the most seats in the House of Commons becomes Canada's Prime Minister.

Decision making is mainly handled by the Cabinet of Canada, a committee chaired by the Prime Minister and made up of MPs from the political party that holds the majority of seats in the House of Commons.

Parliament is located in Ottawa, Canada's capital city.

Provincial

The provincial government is similar in structure to the federal government. One major difference is the lack of a senate all provincial legislation is approved by the Lieutenant Governor, Alberta's representative of the Queen.

Alberta's government is made up of the Legislative Assembly, with elected officials known as Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). The province's leader is known as the Premier. Like the federal Prime Minster, this position is awarded to the leader of the political party with the most seats in the Legislature.

Key decisions are made by Alberta's cabinet, chaired by the Premier and comprised of MLAs from the political party with the majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly.

The Alberta legislature is located in Edmonton, Alberta's capital city.

Municipal

Municipal governments lead local areas. They are led by a mayor and several independent councillors.

Committees made up of small groups of councillors are often formed to focus on various municipal issues. These committees present their recommendations to the entire council, which then votes on proposed by-laws.