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capitalization: governments and government bodies

Capitalize the following:

  • titles of international, national, provincial, territorial, state, regional and local governments:
    • the United Nations
    • the Government of Canada
    • the Parliament of Canada
    • the House of Commons
    • the Senate of Canada
    • the Government of Prince Edward Island
    • the Government of Nunavut
    • the Regional Municipality of Toronto
    • the City of Corner Brook
  • the titles of government departments and agencies and their organizational subdivisions:
    • the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs
    • the Canada Border Services Agency
    • the Audit and Evaluation Sector
    • the Chief Information Officer Branch

Note: For detailed information on how to write the legal and applied titles of government departments, see NAMES OF GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS (LINGUISTIC RECOMMENDATION FROM THE TRANSLATION BUREAU).

  • the names of boards, committees and royal commissions:
    • the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
    • the Federal Cultural Policy Review Committee
    • the Royal Commission on National Development in the Arts, Letters and Sciences
  • the Crown when it means the supreme governing authority:
    • In Canada, the governor general is the representative of the Crown.

Short forms

It is in the use of short forms that the greatest uncertainty arises.

When short forms of government bodies stand for the full title and are intended to carry its full force, they are usually capitalized. This style is almost always used in in-house documents:

  • The Government has adjourned for the summer.
  • The Minister’s message was circulated throughout the Department.

On the other hand, short forms are normally written in lower case in the following situations:

  • when they are used in a non-specific sense:
    • We have formed a committee to study the matter.
  • when they are preceded by a possessive, demonstrative or other type of adjective:
    • Our section held its monthly meeting yesterday.
    • This division has 60 employees.
    • The Canadian (federal, provincial, present) government has issued a policy statement.
  • when they are used adjectivally or in an adjectival form:
    • An interpretation of the department (or departmental) rules and regulations is required.
    • The question of parliamentary procedure was raised.
    • Unfortunately, division practice proscribes such an approach.
    • The decision was based on government (or governmental) policy.
      Exception: If the short title is a specific term which the organization shares with no other body within the government concerned, that title retains the upper case when used adjectivally:
    • the question of Senate reform
    • some House committees

Government

The word Government is capitalized when it refers to the political apparatus of a party in power:

  • The Liberal Government introduced this measure.

It is lower-cased when it refers in a general way to the offices and agencies that carry out the functions of governing:

  • It is government policy not to discuss matters before the courts.

Plural forms

Do not capitalize the plural forms of government, department, division, etc., even when the full titles of the bodies concerned are given:

  • Representatives from the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon and the Northwest Territories were present.