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Canada's Political System

Canada is a federal state consisting of 10 provinces and three territories. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how CA can stand for Canada.

The political system is parliamentary and democratic. The British monarch is the country's formal head of state, de facto represented by a federal governor-general and by a deputy governor in each of the provinces. The Governor-General is appointed by the Monarch on a proposal from the Prime Minister, formally for an indefinite period, but usually for a five-year term.

State formation

Canada emerged as a union of the French Canada (British from 1763) and the English-speaking colonies who remained loyal to Britain during the American American War of Independence (1775–1783). Canada became so in a kind of opposition to the United States, and Canada got a political culture characterized by its affiliation with the United Kingdom. Canada was established as a confederation of the four Central Eastern Provinces in 1867, but gradually expanded to the present size. State formation came late, partly because the Canadians had not gathered and rebelledagainst the United Kingdom, but remained a collection of colonies. It is therefore also an explanation of the loose state formation. Following constitutional amendments in 1982, the connection to the UK is also more symbolic. The Canadian parliament can now amend the constitution without British consent.

Political System of Canada

Constitutional

The Constitution, as in the example of the United Kingdom, is a mixture of formal laws and unwritten customary law. In 1982, a constitutional law was adopted defining which laws constitute the constitution, but the Supreme Court has ruled that this list is not exhaustive and that unwritten customs are also included in the constitutional system.

Executive power

The supreme executive authority in Canada lies with the Prime Minister and the Government. The government is directly and collectively responsible to Parliament. As in the UK, this is legitimized through tradition; the constitution mentions neither the prime minister nor the cabinet. Formally, the prime minister is appointed by the governor-general, but in reality the prime minister is the largest party or the largest party grouping in parliament.

Legislative power

The legislative assembly consists of two houses, the Lower House and the Senate. Formally, they are fairly equal, but in reality it is the Lower House that is the actual legislative body and which is the starting point for the formation of the government. It must have at least 282 members, all elected by a majority in individual circles. The voting age is 18 years. The seats in the lower house are distributed according to the population base, however, so that the poorest provinces in the east are somewhat over-represented. Elections to the lower house must take place at least every five years, but the assembly is often dissolved before this time. The Prime Minister dissolves the Lower House and prints new elections.

The Senate can have up to 112 members, who are appointed by the prime minister according to a specific distribution key that ensures the provinces fair representation. The senators are appointed indefinitely, but have a retirement age of 75 years. The appointment of the senator is more a matter of social prestige than of real influence.

Political parties

The political parties also have their roots in British political culture. The two major parties are conservative and liberal, and the federal prime minister has always come from one of these parties (with the exception of a brief interruption period in the interwar period). The liberal has traditionally been the biggest and most powerful. After a disastrous election result in 1993, the Conservatives had different names and participated in changing alliances, but emerged from the 2004 elections again as a whole. There are also several, partly regionally based parties; most important is the separatist Bloc Quebécois in Quebec.

Federalism

The way Canada came about has made the provinces a very strong position. Thus, the political contradictions at the federal level are often of much less significance than the conflicts between the federal government and provincial governments. The conflict between the federal government and French-speaking Québec, and between the federal government and the western provinces, has repeatedly subjected the Canadian unit to severe stress. The status of indigenous peoples has also created tensions.

The jurisdiction of the provinces is more extensive than in most federal states. The provinces are governed by a government that is parliamentarily responsible for elected provincial assemblies elected in general elections for up to five years; the number of members in these assemblies varies between 27 (Prince Edward Island) and 125 (Quebec). The provinces themselves decide how local self-government should be organized. The three territories also have elected parliaments with 19, 19 and 15 members, respectively; In each of the territories there is also a prime minister and a local government, while the federal government is represented by a commissioner.

Judiciary

The judiciary reflects the federal nature of the political system. Provincial courts are responsible for most civil cases, while federal courts judge in criminal and interprovincial cases. Civil court is largely based on customary law (common law), except in Quebec, where French legal traditions play a greater role.

The country's highest court is the supreme court, the latest appeals court for both provincial and federal cases and the decisive judicial authority in disputes between the provinces and the federal government. The Supreme Court is also an advisory body that the government can request to comment on matters of compatibility with the Constitution. The court consists of eight judges and a justice. They are appointed on the basis of professional qualifications, but regional and ethnic backgrounds are also taken into account.

Canada's defense

Canada is a NATO member. In addition to NATO membership, Canada has commitments in defense of North America along with the United States with the primary mission of alerting aircraft and missiles (NORAD). The country participates in NATO and UN peacekeeping operations. Defense is based on voluntary service. The combined force figures for Canada's armed forces are 66,600 active personnel, with a reserve of 27,000 personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, a civilian manned coast guard comes with 4,500 personnel.

Army

Political System of CanadaThe army has a strength of 23,000 active personnel. The equipment includes 82 tanks (various variants of Leopard 2), 120 LAV-25 type trucks, and 443 armored personnel vehicles. In addition, the army has heavy artillery and light drones.

Air Force

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Air Force has a force of 12,000 active personnel. The aircraft comprises 77 fighter of a horn, 18 patrol central Orion seven tanker, 47 transport aircraft, four trainers, and 123 helicopters. NATO has a training center for pilots in Canada.

The Navy

The Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, has a force of 8300 active personnel. The fleet includes four submarines, 12 frigates of the Halifax-class, 12 minesweepers, and ten supply and support vessels.

Coastguard

The Coast Guard has a force of 4,500 personnel, 69 patrol vessels, four landings, 42 utility and auxiliary vessels, and 44 helicopters.

International operations

Canada participated in NATO operations in 2018, including in Latvia (Enhanced Forward Presence) with mechanized infantry (350 personnel), and in Romania with five fighter aircraft and 135 personnel.

Canada also participated in UN operations in 2018, including Mali (MINUSMA) with 138 personnel and helicopters.

In addition, Canada participated in Operation Inherent Resolve with 370 personnel and four helicopters, two transport aircraft, and one tanker aircraft.

National anthem of Canada

The national anthem is O Canada! with French text by Adolphe-Basile Routhier (1880), English text by Robert Stanley Weir (1908, modified 1968) and melody by Calixa Lavallée. It was composed in 1880 and officially considered national anthem 1980.

Prime Ministers of Canada

Prime Ministers of Canada from 1867:

Period The Prime Minister
1867-1873 John Alexander Macdonald (k)
1873-1878 Alexander Mackenzie (l)
1878-1891 John Alexander Macdonald (k)
1891-1892 John J. Abbott (k)
1892-1894 John Thompson (k)
1894-1896 Mackenzie Bowell (k)
1896 Charles Tupper (k)
1896-1911 Wilfrid Laurier (l)
1911-1920 Robert Laird Borden (k until 1917, then u)
1920-1921 Arthur Meighen (u)
1921-1926 William Lyon Mackenzie King (l)
1926 Arthur Meighen (k)
1926-1930 William Lyon Mackenzie King (l)
1930-1935 Richard Bedford Bennett (k)
1935-1948 William Lyon Mackenzie King (l)
1948-1957 Louis Stephen St. Laurent (l)
1957-1963 John Diefenbaker (k)
1963-1968 Lester Bowles Pearson (l)
1968-1979 Pierre Trudeau (l)
1979-1980 Joe Clark (k)
1980-1984 Pierre Trudeau (l)
1984 John Napier Turner (l)
1984-1993 Brian Mulroney (k)
1993 Kim Campbell (k)
1993-2003 Jean Chrétien (l)
2003-2006 Paul Martin (l)
2006-2015 Stephen Harper (k)
2015- Justin Trudeau (l)

k: Conservative

l: liberal

u: unionist

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