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Lesson 3: Governments in Canada

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1 Lesson 3: Governments in Canada

2 Governments 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 parliament and legislatures across the country. 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 Levels of Government
Canada is a very large country with lots of people and different needs and interests. In order to support the needs of citizens, the Canadian government is structured into a three level system: federal, provincial and local. Each level has its own arrangement of elected and appointed officials, as well as a unique set of responsibilities to take care of different matters.

4 Three Branches of Government in Canada
Legislative Branch: These elected representatives debate, create, and amend laws and regulations. Executive Branch: The Queen (represented by the GG and LGs) and cabinet ministers (appointed elected representatives by the premier) are responsible for government operations, and implementing and enforcing laws and regulations. Judicial Branch: This is the court system in Canada, responsible for interpreting the law, protecting citizens’ rights, and determining the proper punishment for people who break the law.

5 Federal The elected representative at the federal level is called a Member of Parliament (MP). There are 308 elected MPs. This is the federal legislative body. (Legislate means to make or enact laws.) They debate and pass laws in the House of Commons in Ottawa. 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 at the provincial legislature in Victoria. The leader of the government is called the premier. The Queen is represented by the lieutenant governor.

7 Local The elected representative at the local level is called a councillor (for municipalities) or municipal director (for regional districts). The head of the council is called a mayor (municipalities) or chair (regional districts). The size of the council or board differs, depending on the population.

8 Section 91-95, Constitution
When they chose a federal form of government, the Canadian Fathers of Confederation assigned particular responsibilities to the different levels of government (Sections 91–95, Constitution Act). This division of powers is based on the idea of subsidiarity, meaning, the government that is closest to the issue governs it. Local 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/Territorial: 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 Final Thoughts How does government affect your life?
Why is it important to know who is your elected representative?

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