Description of Canada — страница 5

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federal parliament in the 2008 elections: the Conservative Party of Canada (governing party), the Liberal Party of Canada (the Official Opposition), the New Democratic Party (NDP), and the Bloc Québécois. The list of historical parties with elected representation is substantial. Canada's federal structure divides government responsibilities between the federal government and the ten provinces. Provincial legislatures are unicameral and operate in parliamentary fashion similar to the House of Commons. Canada's three territories also have legislatures, but with fewer constitutional responsibilities than the provinces and with some structural differences (for example, the legislative assemblies of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut have no parties and operate on consensus). The

Senate chamber within the Centre Block on Parliament Hill. Canada is also a constitutional monarchy, with The Crown acting as a symbolic or ceremonial executive. The Crown consists of Queen Elizabeth II (legal head of state) and her appointed viceroys, the governor general (acting head of state), and provincial lieutenant-governors, who perform most of the monarch's ceremonial roles. The political executive consists of the prime minister (head of government) and the Cabinet and carries out the day-to-day decisions of government. The Cabinet is made up of ministers usually selected from the House of Commons and headed by the prime minister, who is normally the leader of the party that holds the confidence of the House of Commons. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is one of the

most powerful institutions in government, initiating most legislation for parliamentary approval and selecting, besides other Cabinet members, senators, federal court judges, heads of Crown corporations and government agencies, and the governor general. The Crown formally approves parliamentary legislation and the prime minister's appointments. The leader of the party with the second-most seats usually becomes the Leader of the Opposition, and is part of an adversarial parliamentary system intended to keep the government in check. Michaëlle Jean has served as Governor General since September 27, 2005; Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, has been prime minister since February 6, 2006; and Michael Ignatieff, leader of the Liberal Party, has been Leader of the

Opposition since December 10, 2008. Law The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of the country, and consists of written text and unwritten conventions. The Constitution Act, 1867 (known as the British North America Act prior to 1982) affirmed governance based on parliamentary precedent "similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom" and divided powers between the federal and provincial governments; the Statute of Westminster, 1931 granted full autonomy; and the Constitution Act, 1982 added the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees basic rights and freedoms that usually cannot be overridden by any level of government—though a notwithstanding clause allows the federal parliament and provincial legislatures to override certain sections of

the Charter for a period of five years—and added a constitutional amending formula. The Indian Chiefs Medal, presented to commemorate Treaties 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7, bearing the effigy of Queen Victoria. Although not without conflict, European Canadians' early interactions with First Nations and Inuit populations were relatively peaceful. Combined with Canada's late economic development in many regions, this peaceful history has allowed Canadian Indigenous peoples to have a relatively strong influence on the national culture while preserving their own identity. The Canadian Crown and Aboriginal peoples began interactions during the European colonialisation period. Numbered treaties, the Indian Act, the Constitution Act of 1982 and case laws were established. A series of eleven

treaties were signed between Aboriginals in Canada and the reigning Monarch of Canada from 1871 to 1921. These treaties are agreements with the Government of Canada administered by Canadian Aboriginal law and overseen by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The role of the treaties was reaffirmed by Section Thirty-five of the Constitution Act, 1982, which "recognizes and affirms existing Aboriginal and treaty rights". These rights may include provision of services such as health care, and exemption from taxation. The legal and policy framework within which Canada and First Nations operate was further formalized in 2005, through the First Nations– Federal Crown Political Accord, which established cooperation as "a cornerstone for partnership