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Government HeaderGovernment HeaderThe first formalized government system introduced to Prince Edward Island was the colonial government imposed by Great Britain when that country won title to the Island in the mid-1700s. The Island colony obtained responsible government in 1851 and, in 1873, Prince Edward Island became Canada’s sixth province. Today, Island citizens have the unique benefit of having one provincial representative for every 5,000 people—other Canadian provinces have many fewer representatives per capita. The small size of our Island means that individual citizens have greater relative power. Often, Islanders know their MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) personally or, if they do not, they know that their representative is approachable and prepared to listen to their concerns. Few other political systems can boast such a close relationship between governments and communities.

Today, the provincial legislature has 27 members; one elected from each district or riding on the Island. The Canadian Constitution dictates the jurisdictions in which the provincial government has autonomy from the federal government. As of 1999, Prince Edward Island’s First Minister and Executive Council (commonly referred to as the Premier and Cabinet) have divided the Province’s administrative responsibility among eight departments: Agriculture and Forestry; Community Services and Attorney General; Education; Development; Fisheries and Tourism; Health and Social Services; Provincial Treasury; Technology and Environment; and Transportation and Public Works.

Since Canada is a constitutional monarchy, the head of state in the province is the Lieutenant Governor, who represents the King or Queen. It is in this capacity that the Lieutenant Governor officially opens the legislative session and gives Royal Assent to bills passed by the Legislature. The Premier, or First Minister, is the leader of the government, technically appointed to the position by the Lieutenant Governor. The Premier is an elected member of the Legislature and leader of the party that wins the most seats in the election. The Executive Council, or Cabinet, is made up of elected legislators. Each government department is overseen by a member of the Cabinet.

In Canada, citizens are entitled to vote once they have reached 18 years of age. Having reached the age of majority, any citizen can also be elected to the provincial Legislature or a municipal council. Candidates are usually nominated through a political party but some also run independently. The three major political parties in Prince Edward Island are the Liberal Party, New Democratic Party, and the Progressive Conservative Party. Governments are elected for a maximum mandate of 5 years.

Kensington Water TowerThe provincial government has jurisdiction over the entire province. Incorporated municipalities, however, take responsibility for many services and community programs within their boundaries. Municipal governments levy taxes or apply fees to pay for these services. Incorporated in 1914, the Town of Kensington, for example, provides the following municipal services: recreation programs, water, sewerage, fire protection, and police protection. The Town Council also takes responsibility for attracting small businesses to the industrial park, attracting or initiating the development of businesses and accommodations within the Town, developing residential areas, and fostering a warm community atmosphere. The Town recreation department maintains the municipal park, and the Edward Van Knoughnet Swimming Pool.

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