Banner: By Executive Decree
Photograph of the Privy Council Chamber, Parliament Buildings, after 1886

Prime Minister's Message

The legislative, judicial and executive branches of government in Canada define the form and character of our democracy. As Canada is a constitutional monarchy, the symbolic head of the executive is the governor general. More practically, the prime minister and his or her Cabinet comprise the active political executive, which is supported by central agencies, by departments and by the dynamic administrative role of the Public Service of Canada.

Acts of the executive are carried out in the name of the governor-in-council and the main instrument of that power is the order-in-council. What orders-in-council do and how they work is a mystery to many Canadians. Yet they are vital instruments of governance that acknowledge transactions with the government, confirm appointments, Photograph of the Right Honourable Paul Martin, Prime Minister of Canada, 2003 - 2006or affirm policy objectives. By addressing these more routine matters, orders-in-council free Parliament to concentrate on the steps involved in the legislative process.

Orders-in-council are kept by the Privy Council Office for five years and then are sent to Library and Archives Canada to form the historical record. As every aspect of Canadian life is addressed in orders-in-council, these important records have much to reveal about our Canadian heritage.

I hope that every Canadian visits this site to learn more about how the government works for us today and how it shaped our past.

The Right Honourable Paul Martin
Prime Minister of Canada, 2003  -  2006