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Home > The ABC of the National Assembly > The National Assembly > At the Heart of the Québec State

At the Heart of the Québec State

Québec's chief institutions exercise three fundamental powers.

Québec's chief institutions exercise three fundamental powers

The Parliament, comprising

  • the National Assembly
  • the Lieutenant-Governor


The Government Executive
The courts Judicial

Québec's political system is characterized by a "soft" separation between the executive power and the legislative power: the Government is formed by the Premier and his or her ministers, who are also Members of the National Assembly.

The Parliament

Though not itself the Parliament, the National Assembly forms the Parliament together with Québec's Lieutenant-Governor; hence the name "parliamentary proceedings" for the proceedings, discussions and debates of the Assembly and its committees.

A parliamentarian is a Member of Parliament; in Québec, the term parliamentarian is often used as a synonym for Member of the National Assembly.
Québec has the only French-speaking Parliament in North America.

A Unicameral Parliament

From 1867 to 1968, the Parliament of Québec comprised a Lower House (the Legislative Assembly) and an Upper House (the Legislative Council), which resembled a Senate. 

Today it has only one House: the National Assembly; it is therefore a unicameral Parliament, unlike the bicameral Parliament of Canada with its House of Commons and its Senate.

The Lieutenant-Governor

The Lieutenant-Governor is the Queen's representative in Québec.

The Lieutenant-Governor is a constituent element of Parliament but has no seat in the Assembly. One of his or her main roles is to sign the bills adopted by the Assembly; in this way the bills are assented to and become the law of the land.

Orders in Council must also be signed by the Lieutenant-Governor; such orders express the wishes of the Government and are often of an administrative nature.
On the advice of the Premier, the Lieutenant-Governor convenes, prorogues and dissolves the Assembly.

More on prorogation and dissolution

The Government

The Assembly and the Parliament are separate from the Government. The Government of Québec comprises the Lieutenant-Governor, the Premier and the ministers.

The Government

  • determines the policies of State
  • administers the State according to the laws adopted by the legislative power
  • adopts the regulations provided for by the laws
  • names certain judges, senior civil servants and heads of government bodies

The head of the party with the largest number of Members elected to the Assembly is Premier and generally chooses ministers from among the Members of the National Assembly in his or her own parliamentary group; while the Premier may designate a minister who is not a Member, that person may not sit in the Assembly before being elected in an electoral division.


The Premier and his or her ministers form the Cabinet, which defines government policy and administers the laws and other affairs of the State. It is also known as the Executive Council or “Conseil exécutif.”

More on the Cabinet

Departments, Government Bodies and the Administration

Departments are the administrative divisions of the government of a State. They administer the State's resources, programs and services in their area of jurisdiction. They are headed by a Minister who is a member of the Cabinet.

Government bodies are created by an Act or an order and are generally run by officers and directors appointed by the Government or one of its ministers. They enjoy a certain amount of autonomy even though a large part of their funding comes from the State. They usually have a specific public service mission.

The Administration comprises all the  services for which the State is responsible. State employees provide these services to the public and implement the laws adopted by Parliament. Some of them are also responsible for drafting the bills that the ministers introduce for adoption in the Assembly.

The Courts

In their judgments, the courts resolve disputes brought before them by litigant parties. They also interpret the laws and other sources of law and apply them to the cases brought before them.

More on Québec's court system


Additional Information