• Canada is a Federal State, a Parliamentary Democracy and a Constitutional Monarchy
  • Federal government = matters of national and international concern (defence, foreign policy, interprovincial trade and communications, currency, navigation, criminal law and citizenship)
  • Provincial Government = education, health, natural resources, property and civil rights, and highways
  • Federal government and the provinces share jurisdiction over agriculture and immigration
  • Every province has its own elected Legislative Assembly, like the House of Commons in Ottawa
  • The three northern territories, which have small populations, do not have the status of provinces, but their governments and assemblies carry out many of the same functions.
  • Parliamentary Democracy = people elect members to the House of Commons in Ottawa and to the provincial and territorial legislatures
  • Representatives are responsible for passing laws, approving and monitoring expenditures, and keeping the government accountable
  • Cabinet ministers must retain the “confidence of the House” and have to resign if they are defeated in a non-confidence vote.
  • Parliament has three parts: the Sovereign (Queen or King), the Senate and the House of Commons
  • Provincial legislatures comprise the Lieutenant Governor and the elected Assembly.
  • Prime Minister selects the Cabinet ministers and is responsible for the operations and policy of the government
  • House of Commons is the representative chamber, made up of members of Parliament elected by the people (every 4 years)
  • Senators are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister and serve until age 75
  • Both the House of Commons and the Senate consider and review bills (proposals for new laws)
  • No bill can become law in Canada until it has been passed by both chambers and has received royal assent, granted by the Governor General on behalf of the Sovereign.

How a bill becomes law — The Legislative Process

  • STEP 1 First Reading — The bill is considered read for the first time and is printed.
  • STEP 2 Second Reading — Members debate the bill’s principle.
  • STEP 3 Committee Stage — Committee members study the bill clause by clause.
  • STEP 4 Report Stage — Members can make other amendments.
  • STEP 5 Third Reading — Members debate and vote on the bill.
  • STEP 6 Senate — The bill follows a similar process in the Senate.
  • STEP 7 Royal Assent — The bill receives royal assent after being passed by both Houses.

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