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The Canadian Political System - Articles Surfing
The Canadian political system as it is known today was first drafted by the "Fathers of Confederation" at the Quebec conference of 1864. This then became law when the constitution act was passed in 1867. This act gave the formal executive authority to Queen Victoria (Queen of Great Britain) which made Canada a sovereign democracy. The Canadian political system is therefore loosely based on the British system.
Now, Canada is an independent Federal state with the Queen still the head of state. Her powers are extremely limited however, as the Parliament passes the laws which the Queen gives the "Royal Assent" as the final step. The Governor General of Canada is the Queens representative in Canada and carries out all the Royal obligations when the Queen is not in Canada. The Governor is always a Canadian chosen by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. The length of office is normally five years for the Governor General.
The Senate is made up of 105 Senators who are appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. These Senators are men and women from all of the Provinces and from a wide variety of backgrounds. They can serve on the Senate up until age 75 and have to be a Canadian citizen, over age 30, own $4,000 of equity in land in their home Province, have over $4,000 as personal net worth and live in the province represented. Each Province or Territory has a set number of Senators - 24 each from the Maritimes, Quebec and Ontario, 6 each from Alberta, BC, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 6 from Newfoundland and Labrador and a further 1 each from the three Territories.
House of Commons
The real power is held by the House of Commons. Here, the members of Parliament (MP's) are elected by the general public during a Federal election - normally every 5 years. The country is split up into constituencies (total 308 by population size) and whichever candidate has the most votes wins the right to represent that constituency and take their "seat" in the Parliament.
Each Most candidates represent a particular political party and the party with the most "seats" takes over as the Government. The main parties in Canada are Paul Martins Liberals (ruling), Stephen Harpers Conservatives, Jack Layton's New Democratic Party, The Bloc Quebecois and The Green Party to name the largest.
The leader of the political party that wins the election becomes the Prime Minister of Canada (currently Paul Martin of the Liberals). The Prime Minister effectively runs the country with the support and advice of his Cabinet. The Cabinet is made up of "Ministers" chosen by the Prime Minister to be responsible for certain areas of the Government. There are ministers of Health, Finance, Defence and Immigration to name a few. These areas of responsibility are called "Portfolio's" and each minister will have a large team of civil servants (normally the experts in that field) working for him/her. Only the ministers change during an election - not the civil servants.
Making the Laws
To start with, the House of Commons members introduce a "Bill" (legislative proposal). The details of the Bill are read in the House without debate and then the Bill is printed (the first reading).
A committee will listen to testimony, examine the Bill and then submits a report to the House recommending it as it is, with amendments or scrapped. From here it goes to the report stage.
The Senate put the Bill through the same process as the House - if it comes through all that (normally does!) it is given Royal Assent and becomes Canadian Law!
For more detailed information go to http://www.onestopimmigration-canada.com/canadian_political_system.html
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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