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In Canada, a premier (/ˈprmjər/ (listen) PREEM-yər) is the head of government of a province or territory. Though the word is merely a synonym for prime minister, it is employed for provincial prime ministers to differentiate them from the prime minister of Canada. There are ten provincial premiers and three territorial premiers. In most provinces and all territories, these persons are styled the Honourable only while in office,[1] unless they are admitted to the King's Privy Council for Canada, in which case they retain the title even after leaving the premiership. In Nova Scotia and Alberta, former premiers are honorary members of the provincial Executive Council and thereby retain the style the Honourable for life.[2][3]

The prime minister–premier distinction does not exist in French, with both federal and provincial first ministers being styled premier ministre (masculine) or première ministre (feminine).


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In a number of provinces, premiers were previously known by the title prime minister, with premier being an informal term used to apply to all prime ministers, even the prime minister of Canada. This practice was eventually phased out to avoid confusing the provincial leaders with the federal prime minister, as well as to indicate the distinct nature of the provincial offices. Officially, the last such case outside Quebec was that of W. A. C. Bennett, who served as premier of British Columbia and styled himself as prime minister until leaving office in 1972. The title premier is typically not granted by written law. The formal name of the government position held by the premier is president of the Executive Council or some similar term, but that formal term is rarely used.

The French language does not make a distinction between premier, prime minister and first minister, which are all rendered as "premier ministre". Thus, "The prime minister of Canada and the premier of Ontario" will be translated as "Le premier ministre du Canada et le premier ministre de l'Ontario".

The terms prime minister and premier come from the United Kingdom, where there is only one prime minister / premier. Heads of government of constituent countries in the UK are titled first minister. Collectively, Canada's federal prime minister and the premiers are collectively referred to as first ministers, another synonym of British origin.


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Under Canada's system of responsible government, the premier is both a member of the provincial legislative assembly and the head of the executive. The premier normally holds a seat in the legislative assembly, being elected in one of the electoral constituencies of the province. The leader of the party which commands a majority in the assembly is then legally appointed the premier by the lieutenant governor, representing the Canadian monarch in right of the province. While most often the leader of the largest party in a provincial or territorial legislature is invited to become premier, this is not always the case, the most recent exception occurring after the 2021 general election in Yukon.

Premiers advise the lieutenant governor on whom to appoint to the cabinet and they guide legislation through the legislature. Premiers thus exercise a significant amount of power within the Canadian federation, especially in regard to the federal government. In many ways they remain the most effective representatives of provincial interests to the federal government, as parliament's strong party discipline and other factors have impaired provincial representation there. This reality is acknowledged in annual "first ministers conferences" in which the federal prime minister and the 10 premiers meet to discuss provincial-federal relations. The Meech Lake Accord proposed that these meetings be constitutionally mandated, and some premiers have even proposed that these meetings become a formal branch of government, active in the legislative process (see Council of the Federation). However, only one Canadian provincial premier has ever gone on to serve as prime minister: John Thompson. Canada's first and sixth prime ministers (John A. Macdonald and Charles Tupper) had also been co-premier and premier of British provinces that became part of Canada, but no one who has led a victorious general election campaign in a Canadian province has ever been prime minister.

Canada's three territories have premiers as well, though they are technically known as "government leaders". The premier of Yukon is chosen in the usual fashion, but the premiers of Nunavut and Northwest Territories are selected from within the small and non-partisan elected territorial councils.

Current premiers

Main article: List of current Canadian first ministers

List of current Canadian premiers by incumbency
First minister Jurisdiction Order Party Incumbency First mandate began Current mandate began Parlia­ment Ref.
Provincial premiers
Scott Moe Saskatchewan 15th Saskatchewan Party 5 years, 193 days 2018 designation 2020 election 29th [4]
Doug Ford Ontario 26th Progressive Conservative 5 years, 46 days 2018 election 2022 election 43rd [5]
François Legault Quebec 32nd Coalition Avenir Québec 4 years, 300 days 2018 election 2022 election 43rd [6]
Blaine Higgs New Brunswick 34th Progressive Conservative 4 years, 278 days 2018 designation 2020 election 60th [7]
Dennis King Prince Edward Island 33rd Progressive Conservative 4 years, 97 days 2019 election 2023 election 67th [8]
Andrew Furey Newfoundland and Labrador 14th Liberal 2 years, 360 days 2020 designation 2021 election 50th [9]
Tim Houston Nova Scotia 30th Progressive Conservative 1 year, 348 days 2021 election 2021 election 64th [10]
Heather Stefanson Manitoba 24th Progressive Conservative 1 year, 285 days 2021 designation 2021 designation 42nd [11]
Danielle Smith Alberta 19th United Conservative Party 307 days 2022 designation 2023 election 31st [12]
David Eby British Columbia 37th New Democratic 269 days 2022 designation 2022 designation 42nd [13]
Territorial premiers
Ranj Pillai Yukon 10th Liberal 212 days 2023 designation 2023 designation 35th [14]
Caroline Cochrane Northwest Territories 13th N/A (consensus government) 3 years, 294 days 2019 election 2019 election 19th
P. J. Akeeagok Nunavut 6th N/A (consensus government) 1 year, 268 days 2021 designation 2021 election 6th


See also


  1. ^ Styles of address
  2. ^ "An Act Respecting the Executive Council" (PDF). Nova Scotia Legislature. Retrieved 2023-06-26.
  3. ^ "Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Recognition Act". Alberta King's Printer. 2012-09-17. Retrieved 2023-06-26.
  4. ^ "Premier Scott Moe". Government of Saskatchewan. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  5. ^ "Office of the Premier". Government of Ontario. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  6. ^ "Biography of the Premier". Government of Quebec. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
  7. ^ "Premier Higgs". Government of New Brunswick. October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 7, 2014.
  8. ^ "Office of the Premier of Prince Edward Island". Government of Prince Edward Island. Retrieved February 23, 2015.
  9. ^ "Office of the Premier". Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  10. ^ "Honourable Tim Houston". Government of Nova Scotia. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  11. ^ "Office of the Premier". Government of Manitoba. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  12. ^ "Premier". Government of Alberta. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  13. ^ "Office of the Premier". Government of British Columbia. Archived from the original on February 22, 2013. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
  14. ^ "Office of the Premier". Government of Yukon. Retrieved February 11, 2013.