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Surprising as it may seem, no provision is made for the Office of the Premier in the Constitution Act of 1867, or the North-West Territories Act of 1876, or in the Alberta Act of 1905. The ultimate executive power in provincial government lies with the Crown or Lieutenant-Governor. In part, this is to ensure the continuity and stability of government during certain periods of transition, particularly after general elections.

The Premier is usually the leader of the political party that has elected the most Members to the Legislature, and he or she is appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor. The Premier's powers are considerable. The basis of this power is his or her relationship to the Lieutenant-Governor regarding a wide range of matters from government appointments to new legislative requirements. Although the approval of the Legislature, which includes all members of the Legislative Assembly, is required for some matters, other actions can be taken by the government through an order-in-council, which is a directive of Cabinet, or under authority delegated by existing law. As President of the Executive Council, the Premier also sets the Cabinet's agenda and determines its consensus or final position on issues. Once this consensus has been established, all Cabinet Ministers must publicly support that position or resign. As well, Cabinet Ministers are forbidden from disclosing Cabinet business.

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