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Lesson 3: Government in Canada

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1 Lesson 3: Government in Canada

2 Government in Canada Canada is a federal state, parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy. A federal state brings together a number of different political communities with a central government (federal) for general purposes and separate local governments (provincial) for local purposes. As a parliamentary democracy, we elect members to our federal parliament and to our provincial and territorial legislatures. As a constitutional monarchy, Canada’s Head of State is a hereditary Sovereign (Queen or King), who reigns in accordance with the Constitution.

3 Three Branches of Government
Legislative: Comprised of elected representatives. Responsible for debating and creating laws, rules and regulations. Executive: Comprised of the Cabinet (appointed elected representatives) and the bureaucracy of the government that carry out the government business and legislation. Responsible for implementing and enforcing laws, rules and regulations. Judicial: Comprised of the various courts of Canada. Responsible for interpreting the law and determining the corresponding punishment for people who broke the law.

4 Three Levels of Government
Canada is a very large country with many different needs and interests. In order to support its citizens most effectively, government is structured into three levels: federal, provincial and municipal. Each level has its own arrangement of elected and appointed officials, as well as a unique set of responsibilities.

5 Federal The elected representative at the federal level is called a Member of Parliament (MP). The federal legislative body has 308 elected MPs. MPs debate and pass laws in the House of Commons in Ottawa (Parliament Hill). The leader of the government is called the prime minister. The Queen is represented by the Governor General.

6 Provincial The elected representative at the provincial level is called a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). The legislative body in British Columbia has 85 elected MLAs. MLAs debate and pass laws in the British Columbia Parliament Buildings (Legislative Assembly) in Victoria. The leader of the government is called the premier. The Queen is represented by the Lieutenant Governor.

7 Municipal The elected representative at the municipal level is called a councillor or alderman. The leader of the government is called a mayor or reeve. The size of the council differs from city to town. Councillors debate and pass legislation in the council chambers (city hall/municipal office).

8 Section 91-95, Constitution
In choosing a federal form of government, the Fathers of Confederation assigned particular responsibilities to the different levels of government (Sections 91–95, Constitution Act). The division of powers is based on the principle of subsidiarity, in which the government closest to the issue governs it. Municipal governments receive their powers from the provinces.

9 Division of Responsibilities
Federal: National defence, trade, foreign policy, money, health and safety, immigration and citizenship. Provincial: Health care, education, welfare, transportation within the province, justice, energy and the environment. Municipal: Waste management, water and sewer, policing and protection, cultural facilities and libraries.

10 Government Ministries
High schools have departments and each is in charge of one specific subject area (e.g., Science, Math, History). Similarly, in the Government of British Columbia, there are departments called ministries (e.g., Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education) and each is in charge of one of the government’s responsibilities. The premier appoints several MLAs to head each Ministry of the Executive Council (Cabinet). Each minister is in charge of one of the provincial responsibilities and acts as an advisor to the premier and the Legislature in their area of expertise.

11 Government of BC Ministries
Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology (responsible for multiculturalism) Agriculture Children and Family Development Citizens’ Services and Open Government Community, Sport and Cultural Development Education Energy, Mines and Natural Gas (responsible for housing) Environment Finance Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Health Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training (responsible for labour) Justice and Attorney General Social Development Transportation and Infrastructure

12 Final Thoughts What are the most important issues facing British Columbia today? If you became premier, what would your priorities for the next four years? How involved should government be in the lives of its citizens?

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