Canada is a very vast country in North America encompassing almost the entire continent of Canada. Its three territories and ten provinces cover from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, which makes it the third-largest country in terms of total area. The country’s population constitutes of many different ethnic groups, with visible minorities comprised of French, Indian, Chinese, and First Nation or Native American Indians making up a significant percentage of the population. Like most countries in North America, Canada has a well-developed infrastructure that is highly developed both in urban and rural areas.
The head of state of Canada is the governor-general who is appointed by the prime minister of Canada, following the end of each provincial legislature. The chief executive of the Canadian government is generally the member of the legislature for the province of Ontario, and is empowered to make decisions as regards the administration of the affairs of the province. The person holding the right to sit for the governorship is called the Governor-General. The chief officer of the Senate is the Senator and Leader of the Senate, and is empowered to conduct hearings, and cast the final decision on all legislation bills.
Under the legislative branch of the Canadian government, there are five sections of cabinet, the justice, finance, public service, culture and education, and national unity and defence. At the prime minister’s instigation, after the dissolution of the Senate, there was creation of the first cabinet, which was headed by the current prime minister, Stephen Harper. As is typical of cabinets in most countries, cabinet meetings are held once every six months. A new prime minister can only be chosen if a majority of members of the legislature recommend him. The top ranking party in the new cabinet is then sworn into office immediately.
As opposed to other North American countries, the head of the Canadian government is not appointed until attaining the mandate of the legislature. This system was established to prevent popular discontent against the executive branch of the government. In Canada, the Privy Council, consisting of the top officials in the government, are considered advisors to the prime minister. Once the government is formed, holding of cabinets is then reserved to each province until the general election is held again following dissolution of the Senate. For the House of Commons, the party with the largest number of seats is then usually selected to form a majority government. The upper house of the legislature is then divided into thirty-two separate groups of four seats each, which are elected according to their representation in the Commons.
There are two degrees to the cabinet, the Prime Minister and his/her ministers, which hold the same authority and responsibility as the royal government. The role of the prime minister is defined by the prescribed Treaties Act, which defines who holds the title, and also serves as the commander of the forces in the event of any crisis. The cabinet members actually hold no executive power, instead they have the duty to “parulate” advice to the prime minister on behalf of their constituents. They may also be asked to make reports to the premiers and ministers on specific matters, including national interest and concerns. The role of the ministers is similar to cabinet level in the United Kingdom and the U.S.
The role of the Commons is to enact the law. It is the final arbiter of all laws and the only body that can remove sitting ministers from office, though this rarely happens. The role of the Senate is much more complex. The Senate is a branch of the lower house of parliament, which gives it an even greater influence over legislation. As the Upper House is itself divided into five committees, there is a great deal of cross sectionalism between the Commons and the Senate.