About the Canadian Government
Queen Elizabeth II
Canada a Constitutional Monarchy
The Constitution Act of 1867, places Canada as a constitutional monarchy which makes the reigning sovereign (England) both legal and practical. As a constitutional monarchy the Canadian Crown is the core of the kingdoms Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. There is an executive, legislative and a judicial branch of the Canadian government. The executive government of and over Canada is declared to continue and be vested in the Queen, which means the Queen (Queen Elizabeth II presently) is the formal head of the Canadian state. On the advice of the Canadian Prime Minister she appoints the Governor General which normally holds the position for five years.
Parliament (or the royal legislature) meets only by royal summons. No federal or federal bill becomes a law without the Royal Assent. They do have a multiple party political system.
Canadian System of Government
Function of Assemblies
The Prime Minister is the head of the government and is the leader of the political party that wins the most seats in the House of Commons in a general election. If the Prime Minister wins in a majority election that means over half are elected to the House of Commons or legislative assembly. A majority can pass legislation and maintain the confidence of the House of Commons to stay in power easier than a minority government. A minority government will have less than half the seats therefore, they have to negotiate with other parties and adjust policies to get enough votes to pass legislation. They have to work constantly to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons assembly to stay in power.
The Senate usually has 105 members which are appointed by the Governor General on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. They hold office until age 75 unless they miss two consecutive sessions of Parliament. The Senate can initiate bills except bills for expenditures of public money or imposing taxes. They can amend or reject any bill and no bill can become law unless it has been passed by the Senate. The House of Commons is the major law making body and candidates are voted into office. They are set up much like our House of Representatives as the number each province has representing them is based on population. The Prime Minister is normally a Member of the House of Commons and is appointed by the Governor General; however, they must win an election to stay in office. If they have enough support from their political party in the House of Commons they may stay in office. The Prime Minister is more powerful now than he once was and he chooses Ministers in the House of Commons in the first place, so he may also ask them to resign. A strong Prime Minister may simply decide against a decision that has a majority vote after listening to everyone’s opinion.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Many Duties of the Prime Minister
The current Prime Minister of Canada is Stephen Harper being sworn in as the 22nd Prime Minister of Canada. He is the leader of the Canadian Alliance Party and he oversaw the merger with the Progressive Conservatives to form the new Conservative Party of Canada. He was elected in the 2006 Federal election and led the Conservatives to a minority government. He increased the size of the minority in 2008. He received a master degree at University of Calgary in 1991, and his profession was that of an economist. He was also president of the National Citizens Coalition in 1998. His political career rose slowly through the years as he held various posts and he stepped down from his position of the leader of the Canadian Alliance to run for the leadership of the new Conservative Party of Canada in January, 2004. He was elected their leader in March, 2004. In 2006, general election Stephen Harper led the Conservative Party to victory with a minority government.
The Prime Minister is the head of the executive branch of government. He provides leadership and direction to the government with the support of the cabinet which is chosen by the Prime Minister. The Canadian Prime Minister decides on the size of the cabinet and selects cabinet ministers. They are usually members of parliament and there is at least one senator, and he assigns their department responsibilities and portfolios (the subject matter of the department). In his selection he chooses a balance of English speaking and French speaking members, and he makes sure women and minorities are represented. He chairs the cabinet meetings and controls the agenda.
The prime minister and cabinet members have seats in Parliament and lead and direct Parliament's activities and its legislative agenda. He must retain the confidence of Parliament to have any conflicts resolved by election time. The Prime Minister only participates in the more important debates due to time constraints. It would seem that the Prime Minister has a rather difficult job with multiple tasks, meetings and he must also fulfill his responsibilities as a member of parliament in representing his constituents
The Canadian system is quite different from the United States, yet there are similarities with the three branches. To be elected one must win the confidence of their constituent’s just like any candidate. The Monarchy, of course, is different, but they seem to work well together from what I gleaned from my research.
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