State Structure and Political System of Canada
According to topschoolsintheusa, Canada is a constitutional monarchy, but in fact it is a federal democratic state with a parliamentary form of government. It was formed in 1867 by the British North America Act passed by the British Parliament. It was the Basic Law of the country until 1982, when the Canadian Parliament passed a new Constitutional Act. The latter consolidated the Act of 1867 and all additions to it, added a formula for amending the Constitution, as well as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. An integral part of the Constitution are, in addition, some unwritten customs governing, for example, the formation of the government of the country.
Administrative division – 10 provinces and 3 territories of federal subordination.
Real power belongs to the parliament, which performs legislative and executive functions and consists of the monarch (since 1953, Queen Elizabeth II of England), the Senate, and the House of Commons. The monarch in the country is represented on a permanent basis by the Governor-General, who is appointed (since 1952 from Canadian citizens) on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Canada and has only symbolic, mainly ceremonial, powers. Jean Chrétien served as prime minister from 1993-2003; in December 2003, he was replaced as leader of the ruling (Liberal) Party and Prime Minister by Paul Martin. Governor General (since 1999) – Ms. Adrienne Clarkson.
In parliament, the leading role belongs to the House of Commons, whose 301 members are elected by universal, direct, secret ballot in single-member districts, according to the majority system, for a period of 5 years (in fact, elections are held more often – by appointment of the government in power). The leader of the party that wins the most seats in the election becomes prime minister and forms the government of the country. The party, which has become the 2nd in terms of the number of seats, is traditionally called the “official opposition”. The House of Commons decides on all matters brought before it by the government.
The Senate (104 seats) considers and, as a rule, approves bills passed by the House of Commons. However, he does not have the right to legislative initiative on financial matters, control over the executive branch, or a vote of no confidence in the government. In general, the Canadian Senate is much less influential than, for example, the US Senate. Senators are appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister at a certain rate of representation from the subjects of the federation and retire at the age of 70.
Canada is a federation of 10 provinces and 3 territories. According to the Constitution, the regulation of most of the most important issues of the country’s life (direct taxation, trade, money circulation, banking, transport and communications, citizenship, foreign policy and defense) is within the competence of the federation. The provinces are in charge of property and civil rights, indirect taxation, the use of natural resources (which is one of the main sources of income for provincial budgets in the form of royalties), labor relations, education, healthcare, local legislation and self-government. The sphere of joint competence includes immigration, development of agriculture.
The head of state is represented in the province by a lieutenant-governor appointed by the governor-general on the recommendation of the prime minister of the country (and also performing mainly ceremonial functions). Legislative and executive power is vested in the unicameral Legislative Assemblies (in Quebec, the National Assembly). The principle of formation of provincial governments is the same as that of the federal government.
The judicial system of Canada has three levels – federal, provincial and territorial. The supreme judicial body of the country is the Supreme Court. Under the Constitutional Act of 1982, the Supreme Court, in addition to the previous powers of last instance in criminal and civil cases, received the powers of the Constitutional Court. The 9 justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister and retire from office at the age of 70. The Federal Court hears cases on matters of maritime law, income taxation, patents, and customs.
In Canada, at the federal level, only two parties have been in power since 1867—the Progressive Conservative (established in 1854) and the Liberal (founded in 1873), which were formed and functioned along the lines of similar parties in Great Britain. After World War I, along with the conservatives and liberals, 1-3 small parties were represented in the federal parliament at different times, sometimes significantly influencing government policy. In the provinces, parties are in power, bearing, as a rule, the same names, but most of them have no organizational ties with their federal counterparts and are not subject to their decisions.
Liberal Party in the 20th century dominated the federal arena, winning 18 general elections out of 28, while after the 2nd World War – 12 out of 18. Its leaders proved to be more flexible politicians and skillful rulers than their main rivals, the conservatives. Successfully maintains a position at the center of Canada’s political spectrum. The political program of the party is based on the commitment to the principle of free enterprise with an active regulatory role of the state, the desire to strengthen federal power, keep the country’s leading sectors of the economy under national control, diversify its foreign economic and political relations, defend the originality of culture and the independence of Canada’s foreign policy. In 1982, the liberals, led by then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (in power from 1968–79 and 1980–84), carried out the “patriation” of the Canadian Constitution, eliminating the formal remnants of Canada’s former dependence on Great Britain. In the 1997 elections, the Liberals won 155 seats, in 2000 – 172 seats.
The Progressive Conservative Party has won power 10 times since 1900, 6 of them after 1945. It is supported by a large part of the English-speaking inhabitants of small towns and rural areas, especially in the western part of the country, wealthy farmers and entrepreneurs, and Protestants. The party advocates limiting state intervention in the economy, reducing government spending, was the initiator of the weakening of control over foreign capital, the Free Trade Agreement with the United States in 1988. Attempts by the government of B. Mulroney (Prime Minister in 1984-93) to strengthen the unity of Canada through constitutional concessions Quebec, and along with all the other provinces, failed.
In the 1993 elections, the Conservatives suffered an unprecedented defeat in their history: having previously 167 deputies in the House of Commons, they were able to get only 2 seats in it, which put Canada’s oldest party in danger of disappearing. In the 1997 elections, the Conservatives won 12 seats, in 2000 – 20 seats.
The New Democratic Party (NDP) was formed in 1961 by merging the Federation of the Cooperative Commonwealth, founded in 1932, with the leadership of the Canadian Workers’ Congress, the largest trade union center in the country. The only social democratic party in North America. Member of the Socialist International. Defends state regulation of the economy, an effective social security system, recognition of the “special status” of Quebec in a decentralized federation. Opposes the dominance of foreign capital in key industries. The PDP has repeatedly been in power in various provinces. The peak of the influence of the NDP came in the 1970s and 80s, when the number of its deputies in the federal parliament reached 43. However, in the 1993 elections, the new Democrats received only 9 mandates. In the 1997 elections, the NDP won 21 seats, in 2000 – 13 seats.
The Bloc Québécois was created in 1990 by Quebec sovereigns (supporters of “sovereignty-association” – the political sovereignty of this French-speaking province, while maintaining its economic association with the “rest of Canada”), in order to defend their interests in the federal arena. Up to this point, they were limited to political activity in the province itself, uniting in the Quebec Party. In the general elections of 1993, having received the support of certain middle strata, the intelligentsia, and the youth of Quebec, he led 54 deputies to the House of Commons and took the place of the official opposition. In the general elections of 1997, the KB won 44 seats, and in 2000 – 38 seats.
The Canadian Conservative Reform Alliance emerged (originally called the Reform Party) in 1989 in the province of Alberta as a spokesman for local small and medium business dissatisfaction with federal policies that traditionally reflect the interests of Central Canada’s big business. He advocated the decentralization of the federation, for strengthening the role of the provinces in the formation of the Senate and the Supreme Court of the country, in control of its natural resources, for the abolition of the law on bilingualism, against any concessions to Quebec. He received the support of the majority of farmers, residents of small and medium-sized cities in all provinces of the West, where, moreover, the mood of Anglo-Saxon chauvinism is very strong. In the 1993 elections, he led 52 deputies to the House of Commons and began to challenge the place of the “official opposition” from the Quebec bloc. This was done as a result of the 1997 elections,
In con. 2003 The Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party announced their intention to form a united Conservative Party.
Of the parties operating only in the provincial arena, the Quebec Party in the province of Quebec is of particular interest. It arose in 1967 and already in the provincial elections of 1976 came to power under the slogan “sovereignty-association”. In 1980, it held a provincial sovereignty referendum and was defeated, receiving only 40% of the vote. In the 1985 elections, she ceded power to the provincial liberals. In 1994 she again came to power and in 1995 held the 2nd referendum on the same issue. This time, her appeal was supported by 49.4% of those who voted. The platform of the party is largely social-democratic in nature: a call for dialogue with trade unions, the social security of the population, and the joint responsibility of all Quebecers. But the main thing is that the Communist Party preaches and implements a policy of strengthening and encouraging the French language and culture in the provinces in every possible way.
Public organizations. The Canadian Labor Congress is the largest national trade union center, with over 2.3 million members. It was created in 1956 by a merger of the Trade Unions and Labor Congress of Canada (trade unions that were members of the American Federation of Labor) and the Canadian Labor Congress (trade unions that were members of the US Congress of Industrial Unions, as well as Canadian national trade unions).
Confederation of National Trade Unions, the 2nd most important trade union center of the country. It arose in 1921 as the Canadian Catholic Confederation of Labor, consisting only of the national trade unions of Quebec, which were under the strong influence of the Catholic Church. In 1960, references to the social doctrine of the church were removed from the program and adopted the modern name.
The National Farmers Union is the country’s largest farming organization, founded in 1969.
The Business Council for National Affairs is Canada’s most influential business organization. Founded in 1977, it brings together top executives from 140 of Canada’s largest corporations. By 2004, it changed its name to the Canadian Board of Chief Executives.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is an association of entrepreneurs and corporate representatives, founded in 1929. It has approx. 200 thousand individual and collective members.
Union of Manufacturers and Exporters of Canada. Created in 1996 as a result of the merger of the oldest business organization in the country – the Canadian Association of Industrialists (founded in 1871) and the Canadian Exporters Association (founded in 1943). It has 50 thousand members.
The Inuit Brotherhood of Canada (BIC; Inuit Tapirisat). Founded in 1971 by activists of the Canadian Inuit (Eskimo) movement in defense of their economic interests and culture in the process of development of the North of Canada by Canadian and foreign corporations. The objectives of the BIC are to preserve the language and culture of the Inuit, to assist in identifying their needs and aspirations, to establish and strengthen ties between all Inuit settlements, to formulate and defend their demands in negotiations with authorities at all levels, in order to achieve the full participation of Inuit in the life of Canadian society.. The Board of Directors of the BIC consists of the presidents of 6 regional associations and 4 members elected for a two-year term at the annual meetings of representatives of local communities. Included in the international organization “Inuit Circumpolar Conference”,
The Assembly of First Nations is a Canadian political organization representing the interests of status Indians (recognized as such by the federal Indian Act of 1951). Created in 1980 at a meeting of the leaders of most Indian tribes in the country. It is headed by the chief chief, elected for 3 years by the general meeting of chiefs, and 6 vice-chiefs, elected by regional associations. Assists its members with consultations and development of requirements for the authorities on issues of social security and economic development, education, medical care, advocates for the interests of Indians on these issues before the federal government, seeks legislative consolidation of land and other rights of Indians provided for in treaties with the British authorities of the colonial period and in subsequent court decisions.
First Nations Council of Canada (NCPC). It arose in 1968 as a political organization of mestizos and non-status Indians (not subject to the federal Indian Act). Consists of provincial and territorial organizations, the presidents of which form the board of directors of the NCPC. The activities of the NCPC are funded by the federal government. The NCPC seeks recognition of the “historical and cultural uniqueness” of mestizos and low-status Indians and grants them the rights recognized for other aboriginal peoples of the country. In 1983, provincial associations of 3 Steppe provinces broke away from the SKNK; they formed the National Council of the Métis.
The British North America Act of 1867 granted the federal center extremely broad powers, which it used, as a rule, in the interests of the commercial and financial elite of Canada’s economic center, the province of Ontario. But in the 20th century powerful regional economic and political groups formed in the country, which began to seek the expansion of the powers of the provinces to more effectively reflect their interests in the policy of the federal government. Under their constant pressure, the center repeatedly ceded part of its powers to the provinces. As a result, Canada has become one of the most decentralized federations in the world, and this process continues, weakening the integrity of the country. The main political mechanism for resolving disagreements and contradictions between the center and the subjects of the federation has become federal-provincial conferences, first special, rare, and then regular, at the level of heads of federal and provincial governments, as well as ministers in charge of similar departments (for example, finance, education, etc.). The most powerful economic lever to counter the weakening of the federation are the so-called. “equalization payments”, which are allocated by the central government from the federal budget to the poorer provinces to maintain the average level of social services and taxation in them. However, after 1993, measures to reduce the federal budget deficit significantly reduced the size of such payments, which led to a new aggravation of federal-provincial relations. The federal government also seeks to strengthen the economic unity of the federation, advocating the elimination of numerous restrictions on trade, which have long existed between the provinces. In 1994, Ottawa obtained the consent of the provinces to eliminate such obstacles to mutual trade, but its implementation is difficult, especially in Quebec, which requires special rights for itself to introduce measures to protect its unique culture, primarily the French language. The rest, the English-speaking provinces, primarily British Columbia and Alberta, oppose the granting of any exclusive powers to Quebec and, in turn, demand that they be extended to any concessions that the federal government makes to Quebec.
The main objectives of Canada’s foreign policy after the 2nd World War for many years was to ensure national (and international) security and economic prosperity of the country. In the conditions of the Cold War, this meant, first of all, the prevention of a war between the USSR and the USA. After the end of the Cold War, these priorities were reversed, and in 1995 the government of the Liberal Party added to them the task of promoting “Canadian values” and cultural achievements abroad.
Canada’s objective interest in multilateral peace efforts and its bilingualism have led it to become a founding member of many and a member of virtually all major international organizations. Canada is the only country in the world that is a member of both the Commonwealth of Nations and the International Association of French Language Countries (“La Francophonie”).
After the start of the Cold War, Canada acted as one of the initiators of the creation of NATO in 1949 and supported all the main activities of this organization.
At the same time, she advocated resolving disputes with the Warsaw Pact countries, with the USSR, and then with the Russian Federation through negotiations, compromises, avoiding the risk of an armed conflict.
Canada actively opposes violations of human rights, for the adoption by the world community of the most stringent measures against states that violate international laws in this area. In no small part, this is due to the multiethnic composition of the Canadian population, especially post-war immigration, whose representatives zealously follow what is happening in their former homeland.
During the Cold War, Canada earned a reputation as a mediator in settling disputes and conflicts between states. Canada gained particular fame as a peacekeeper – until 1994, she took part in all peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the UN and in almost all operations of this type outside of it. The initiative to organize such operations belonged in 1957 to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada of those years, L. Pearson, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for it.
In the early post-war years, Canada also gained a reputation as a spokesman and defender of the interests of the young independent states – the former colonies. Subsequently, it was added to the fame of a major donor, implementing numerous programs to assist the economic development of such countries (mainly through the government’s Canadian International Development Agency).