What is the Privy Council and an Order in Council?

The Privy Council of Canada has been in existence since 1867.  The members of the Privy Council are the Prime Minister and heads or ministers of federal government departments of the administration of the day.  Within that group are the members of the Cabinet.  The Governor General acts on the advice of the Cabinet, not of the whole Council. 

An Order in Council is a recommendation of Cabinet that is approved and signed by the Governor General.  An Order in Council is not discussed by Parliament before it is implemented.  It can contain decisions about federal appointments, transactions between the government and the private sector and other important policy items.

For more information about Orders in Council please click on this link from the website of Library and Archives Canada.

Library and Archives Canada has a searchable database of Orders in Council from 1867 to 1924.

The Privy Council Office has a searchable database for Orders in Council from 1990 to the present.

The Orders in Council that contain the names on our website are not available on-line.  The original paper copies can be consulted at Library and Archives Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa.  They are also available on microfilm reels held at Library and Archives Canada. 

At the bottom of each of our photographs, we have inserted a credit slip showing the date the Order in Council was approved, which box or volume contains that Order in Council and also which microfilm reel contains the images of that Order in Council.

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09.02 | 12:39

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