Because the territories have no authority to govern under
our Constitution, the official head of a territorial government is the federally
appointed Commissioner. However, in recent years the Commissioner has
become more like a Lieutenant
Governor: the Commissioner gives final approval to
legislation passed by elected members, but leaves the major decision-making up
to the elected members.
Territorial government differs from provincial government
in other ways as well. The leader of the
cabinet is called the Government Leader,
although the job is very similar to a Premier's.
In the Northwest
Territories, all candidates run as Independents. Consequently, elections
are not won by parties, so party leaders do not automatically become the
Government Leaders. Instead, the whole Legislative Assembly elects the
Government Leader, who appoints the cabinet (called the Executive Council) from
among all Members of the Legislative Assembly.
Nunavut also has no political
parties at the territorial level, instead operating on the basis of consensus
politics. The Nunavut system of government is very similar to the Northwest
Territories' but with the Legislative Assembly electing the cabinet, speaker and
premier for the territory.
The Yukon Legislative
Assembly, on the other hand, is much like a provincial Assembly. Yukon has
adopted the party system, under which the Government Leader is the leader of the
party holding the most seats in the elected Assembly and appoints cabinet
ministers from among the elected members of that party. Yukon's Government
Leader and ministers together make up the government.
A territory's areas
of responsibility are similar to those of a province.