The Cabinet is made up of Ministers who set Crown governments’ priorities and make important policy decisions. Federal, provincial, and territorial governments each have their own cabinet (provincial Cabinets are sometimes referred to as Executive Councils). The Cabinet is chaired by the Prime Minister, or in the case of provinces and territories, the Premier.
Through legislation, the Cabinet is also granted the power to make important decisions on specific issues, such as the creation of new national parks. Whenever legislation refers to a decision being made by the “Governor in Council” (federal), “Lieutenant Governor in Council” (provincial) or “Commissioner in Executive Council” (territorial), in practice, the decision is made by Cabinet.
For the purposes of this document, the term ‘delegation’ refers to the act of transferring statutory power to another individual or body. For example, a Minister may delegate some of their management duties granted by a provincial park statute to a Superintendent. The Superintendent is then legally able to exercise those powers within the boundaries set by the Minister.
Executive Commissioner in Council:
See Governor in Council.
The Governor General represents the British monarch in the Canadian government. They perform a variety of roles, most of which are ceremonial. The Governor General gives Royal Assent to legislation, opens and closes Parliamentary sessions, and approves Orders in Council. In performing these duties, the Governor General acts on the advice of Cabinet.
At the provincial level, the Lieutenant Governor General plays a similar role to the Governor General. At the territorial level is the Commissioner. (The Commissioner is not a representative of the British monarch, but rather a representative of the federal government from which territorial governments derive their powers. However, the Commissioner performs the same role as the Governor General and Lieutenant Governor General.)
Governor in Council:
The ‘Governor in Council’ refers to the Governor General acting on the advice of Cabinet. In practice, when legislation states that a decision can be made or a power can be exercised by the Governor in Council, the Cabinet makes the decision.
At the provincial level, the Lieutenant Governor in Council represent this role. At the territorial level is the Executive Commissioner in Council. In practice, when provincial or territorial legislation grants decision-making power to these individuals, decisions lie with the provincial or territorial Cabinet.
The Legislative Assembly is the law-making body of each province and territory. It is made up of elected Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), or in Ontario, Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs).
Lieutenant Governor General:
See Governor General.
Lieutenant Governor in Council:
See Governor in Council
A Ministerial Order is an order created by a Minister exercising the power granted to them by a statute. Using an order, a Minister can establish certain types of parks or protected areas in some provinces. It depends on the statute what exactly a Ministerial Order can do.
Unlike Orders in Council, Ministerial Orders do not require the approval of Cabinet, which can make them easier to issue.
Order in Council:
An Order in Council (sometimes abbreviated to OIC) is an order created by Cabinet exercising a power granted to them by a statute. Using an Order in Council, Cabinet can establish certain types of parks or protected areas. Orders in Council are also used for other important legal and administrative tasks, such as creating boards and agencies, appointing officials, and determining the responsibilities of individual Ministers. It depends on the statute what exactly an Order in Council can do.
Unlike Ministerial orders, Orders-in-Council require the approval of Cabinet and may be reviewed by other government committees.
Parliament is the law-making body of the Canadian government, where elected officials debate and pass laws. Federally, Parliament is made up of the House of Commons and the Senate. Provincially and territorially, there is no Senate, and Parliament is made up of elected officials in the Legislative Assembly.
A regulation is a type of law that is created by a Minister or Cabinet using the power granted to them by a statute. A regulation may be used to create a park or protected area, lay out the rules for managing it, or prohibit certain kinds of activities within a park. Regulations are often detailed lists of rules and standards and may include technical guidelines. It depends on the statute what exactly a regulation can do.
Regulations are like laws, but unlike statutes, they do not need to pass through a federal or provincial Legislature or be voted on by members of the Legislature. Instead, statutes dictate which areas or topics a Minister or Cabinet can make regulations for.
Since they are enforceable by law, regulations have a detailed approval process. Not all regulations need formal approval from Cabinet, but this does not mean they are easier to pass than Orders-in-Council. Regulations go through a comprehensive drafting process and may have a consultation period.
Statute and Statutory Power:
A statute is a written law that has been passed by federal Parliament or a provincial or territorial Legislative Assembly. All Acts referred to in this document are statutes. Statutes may grant power to Ministers, Directors, or to Cabinet to make regulations or orders. These powers are collectively referred to as ‘statutory powers.’
 See e.g. “Key Functions and Roles of Members” (last visited 12 May 2022), online: House of Commons Canada.
 See e.g. Black’s Law Dictionary Free, “What is Delegation” (last visited 12 May 2022), online: The Law Dictionary.
 See e.g. “Governor in Council” (last visited 2 May 2023), online: Centre for Constitutional Studies
 See e.g. “The Lieutenant Governor” (last visited 2 May 2023), online: Legislative Assembly of British Columbia “What does the term ‘Lieutenant Governor in Council’ refer to?” (last visited 12 May 2022), online: Lieutenant Governor of Ontario; “Glossary” (last visited 12 May 2022), online: Government of Yukon.
 See e.g. “Orders in Council: Everything you need to know about Orders in Council” (last modified 24 November 2021).
 See e.g. “List of Regulations” (last updated 2 January 2019), online: Government of Canada; “Statutes and Regulations” (last visited 2 May 2023), online: Law Central Alberta.