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Federal Government
In Canada, the constitution grants different areas of responsibility to the Federal Parliament and provincial Legislatures - each with its own law-making bodies, governing executive and judiciary.

At the federal level, the Canadian government has two law-making bodies: the 308-seat House of Commons and the 105-seat Senate. B.C. residents are represented by 36 elected Members of Parliament (MPs) and six appointed senators.

The Prime Minister and appointed Ministers comprise the federal cabinet, or governing executive. The federal judiciary includes the Supreme Court of Canada, the highest court of appeal for all cases.

Provincial Government
The structure of the British Columbia Government is rooted in British parliamentary tradition and precedent. Prior to 1866, B.C. was comprised of two British-controlled colonies, one on Vancouver Island and a second on the mainland. In 1866, the two colonies were officially united as the Crown Colony of British Columbia, with its capital at Victoria.

British Columbia became a province of Canada when it entered Confederation on July 20, 1871. Upon Confederation, B.C. came under the British North America Act (BNA Act), a British statute which defined the major national institutions and the division of authority between the federal and provincial governments.

In 1982, the BNA Act was incorporated into the Constitution Act, which ended the British parliament's legal right to legislate for Canada.

Legislative powers in B.C. are exercised by a single legislative chamber, which is elected for a four-year term. The legislature consists of the Lieutenant Governor and 85 elected members of the legislative assembly.

The provincial judicial system is composed of the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court of B.C. and the Provincial Court of B.C., which includes Small Claims Court and Family Court.

The Lieutenant Governor
The Lieutenant Governor is the representative of Her Majesty The Queen of Canada in the Province of British Columbia and, as such, takes precedence over everyone in the province except the Sovereign. The Lieutenant Governor personifies the Crown, which is both the apex and the unifying link in the constitutional and political structure of the province - executive, legislative, and judicial. All legislation must receive Royal Assent before it becomes law, and must be signed by the Lieutenant Governor. All Orders-In-Council and official proclamations are also signed by the Lieutenant Governor in the name of The Queen.

The Lieutenant Governor is also responsible for ensuring there is a First Minister in the province at all times. At any time, when the position of First Minister is vacant because of death or resignation, after defeat in a provincial election or the result of a non-confidence motion in the Legislature, the Lieutenant Governor must either dissolve the House or call upon someone else to become First Minister and try to form a viable government.

The Lieutenant Governor attends a variety of events across the province including military and civilian ceremonies, award presentations, and cultural events. On occasion, the Lieutenant Governor is invited to lend patronage to organizations, particularly those of a charitable nature. Patronage is not granted as a matter of routine.

The spouse of the Lieutenant Governor is addressed as “Your Honour.” He or she has no official status independent of the Lieutenant Governor, but is involved in some events and is treated with the same courtesies, respect and consideration as the Lieutenant Governor. The spouse may represent the Office of the Lieutenant Governor by acting as Honorary Patron to community and charitable organizations.

The Legislative Assembly
The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia presently consists of 85 elected Members. (This number can be varied by statutory amendment.) Following a provincial general election, the Lieutenant Governor appoints the recognized leader of the party with the majority of elected members Premier, and calls upon the Premier to form a Government. Upon the advice of the Premier, the Lieutenant Governor also appoints the Executive Council or Cabinet.

The Premier and the Cabinet Ministers determine government policy. Each Cabinet Minister is also given responsibility for the full administration of a department or ministry within the limitations of the relevant statues. The Premier and all Cabinet Ministers are Members of, and accountable to, the Legislative Assembly.

Provincially, British Columbia is governed by the BC Liberal Party, elected on 16 May 2001. B.C residents are represented by 85 Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

Government of British Columbia
The Executive Council of the Government of BC
BC Ministries, Central Agencies & Crown Corporations
Symbols of British Columbia

Local and Regional Government
The provincial Legislature creates local governments in B.C, which consist of incorporated municipalities, regional districts, school districts, regional hospital districts, and special-purpose improvement districts. The provincial Legislature also decides what local governments are responsible for.

Incorporated municipalities (cities, districts, towns and villages) provide facilities such as roads, waterworks and sewers, as well as a wide range of social, recreational and protection services. Regional districts provide common services on a shared basis (such as police and ambulance services) over a large area. Revenue for municipal and regional services is derived mainly from property taxation and grants from the provincial government.

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