Canada -- Geography --
Official Name: Canada
Languages: English, French
Currency: canadian dollar
Religions: No official religion; Biggest groups- Christian (Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and others)
Population: 33,408,000 (2008)
Land Area: 3,854,085 sq km
Landforms: Soth Canada is seperated of the North Forest and of the infertile Canadian Shield to the north and the fertile valley of the Saint Laurens river to the south (where live most of the people).
There are big areas of plains and prairies in the south central Canada. The relief of the West Canada is mostly with hills on the both sides of the Rocky mouintains. The branch of The Hudzan river incises deeply in the country. And the Great Lakes are situated on the east, that are the border with USA. There is situated and the Niagara waterfall.
Land Divisions: Canada is divided into
10 provinces and 3 territories. The provinces to a certain degrade are autonomous, while the territories more dependent mon The Government. Each province and territory has there own chamber and Legislative Authority.
Canada -- History --
The first inhabitants of Canada were native Indian peoples, primarily the Inuit (Eskimo).
The Norse explorer Leif Eriksson probably reached the shores of Canada (Labrador or Nova Scotia) in 1000,
but the history of the white man in the country actually began in 1497, when John Cabot, an Italian in the
service of Henry VII of England, reached Newfoundland or Nova Scotia. Canada was taken for France in 1534
by Jacques Cartier. The actual settlement of New France, as it was then called, began in 1604 at Port Royal
in what is now Nova Scotia; in 1608, Quebec was founded. France's colonization efforts were not very successful,
but French explorers by the end of the 17th century had penetrated beyond the Great Lakes to the western prairies
and south along the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, the English Hudson's Bay Company had been established
in 1670. Because of the valuable fisheries and fur trade, a conflict developed between the French and English; in 1713,
Newfoundland, Hudson Bay, and Nova Scotia (Acadia) were lost to England. During the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), England
extended its conquest, and the British general James Wolfe won his famous victory over Gen. Louis Montcalm outside Quebec
on Sept. 13, 1759. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 gave England control.At that time the population of Canada was almost entirely
French, but in the next few decades, thousands of British colonists emigrated to Canada from the British Isles and from the American colonies.
In 1849, the right of Canada to self-government was recognized. By the British North America Act of 1867, the dominion of Canada was created
through the confederation of Upper and Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. In 1869, Canada purchased from the Hudson's Bay Company
the vast middle west (Rupert's Land) from which the provinces of Manitoba (1870), Alberta (1905), and Saskatchewan (1905) were later formed.
In 1871, British Columbia joined the dominion, and in 1873, Prince Edward Island followed. The country was linked from coast to coast in 1885 by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
During the formative years between 1866 and 1896, the Conservative Party, led by Sir John A. Macdonald, governed the country, except during the years 1873–1878. In 1896 the
Liberal Party took over and, under Sir Wilfrid Laurier, an eminent French Canadian, ruled until 1911. By the Statute of Westminster in 1931 the British dominions, including
Canada, were formally declared to be partner nations with Britain, “equal in status, in no way subordinate to each other,” and bound together only by allegiance to a common Crown.
Newfoundland became Canada's tenth province on March 31, 1949, following a plebiscite. Canada also includes three territories—the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories, and the newest territory,
Nunavut. This new territory includes all of the Arctic north of the mainland, Norway having recognized Canadian sovereignty over the Sverdrup Islands in the Arctic in 1931.
The Liberal Party, led by William Lyon Mackenzie King, dominated Canadian politics from 1921 until 1957, when it was succeeded by the Progressive Conservatives. The Liberals,
under the leadership of Lester B. Pearson, returned to power in 1963. Pearson remained prime minister until 1968, when he retired and was replaced by a former law professor,
Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Trudeau maintained Canada's defensive alliance with the United States but began moving toward a more independent policy in world affairs.
Faced with an increasingly violent separatist movement in the predominantly French province of Quebec, Trudeau introduced the Official Languages Bill, which encouraged
bilingualism in the federal government; he also gave an economic portfolio to a French-speaking minister, Jean Chretien. Both measures increased the power of French-speaking politicians in the federal government.
In 1976, the Parti Quebecois (PQ) won the provincial Quebec elections, and Rene Levesque became premier. The Quebec government passed Bill 101 in 1977, which established numerous rules promoting the French-speaking
culture; for example, only French was to be used for commercial signs and for most public school instruction. Many of Bill 101's provisions have since been amended, striking more of a compromise; commercial signs,
for example, may now be in French and English, provided that the French lettering is twice the size of the English. Quebec held a referendum in May 1980 on whether it should seek independence from Canada; it was defeated by 60% of the voters.
Resolving a dispute that had occupied Trudeau since the beginning of his tenure, Queen Elizabeth II signed the Constitution Act (also called the Canada Act) in Ottawa on April 17, 1982, thereby cutting the last legal tie between Canada and Britain. The constitution retains Queen Elizabeth as queen of Canada and keeps Canada's membership in the Commonwealth. This constitution was accepted by every province except Quebec.
In the national election on Sept. 4, 1984, the Progressive Conservative Party scored an overwhelming victory, fundamentally changing the country's political landscape. The Conservatives, led by Brian Mulroney, won the highest political majority in Canadian history. The dominant foreign issue was a free-trade pact with the U.S., a treaty bitterly opposed by the Liberal and New Democratic parties. The conflict led to elections in Nov. 1988 that solidly reelected Mulroney and gave him a mandate to proceed with the agreement.
The issue of separatist sentiments in French-speaking Quebec flared up again in 1990 with the failure of the Meech Lake Accord. The accord was designed to bring Quebec into the constitution while easing its residents' fear of losing their identity within the English-speaking majority by giving it status as a “distinct society.”
The economy continued to be mired in a long recession that many blamed on the free-trade agreement. Brian Mulroney's popularity continued to decline, causing him to resign before the next election. In June 1993 the governing Progressive Conservative Party chose Defense Minister Kim Campbell as its leader, making her the first female prime minister in Canadian history. The national election in Oct. 1993 resulted in the reemergence of the Liberal Party and the installation of Jean Chretien as prime minister.
The Quebec referendum on secession in Oct. 1995 yielded a narrow rejection of the proposal, and separatists vowed to try again. Since then, however, the Quebec Liberal Party has replaced the Bloc Quebecois as the ruling party.
On April 1, 1999, the Northwest Territories were officially divided to create a new territory in the east that would be governed by Canada's Inuits, who make up 85% of the area's population.
In July 2000, Stockwell Day of the new right-wing Canadian Alliance Party unexpectedly emerged as the leader of Canada's opposition. In Nov. 2000 elections, however, Prime Minister Jean Chretien of the Liberal Party won a landslide victory for a third five-year term. After the election, the conservatives rapidly lost steam.
In recent years, Canada has introduced some of the world's most liberal social policies. Medical marijuana for the terminally or chronically ill was legalized in 2001; the country began legally dispensing marijuana by prescription in July 2003. In 2003, Ontario and British Columbia legalized same-sex marriage; and more provinces and territories followed in 2004. In July 2005, Canada legalized gay marriage throughout the country, becoming one of four nations (along with Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain) to do so.
Canada sent 2,000 soldiers to help fight the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, but its relations with the U.S. were strained when it refused to join Washington's coalition supporting the war in Iraq.
In Dec. 2003, Chretien stepped down and handed the prime ministership to the new leader of Canada's Liberal Party, former finance minister Paul Martin. Chretien had announced in 2002 that he would not seek a fourth term—conflict between Chretien and Martin had divided and weakened the Liberal Party in recent years. In June 2004, Martin was reelected prime minister, but the Liberal Party lost its majority in parliament, which it had dominated for 11 years. In 2005, a scandal involving the misappropriation of government funds by the Liberal Party threatened the stability of Martin's government. Martin himself was not implicated in the scandal, but his predecessor came under fire. In Jan. 2006 parliamentary elections, Conservatives won 36% of the vote, ending twelve years of Liberal rule. Conservative leader Stephen Harper became prime minister in February. In June 2006, police arrested 17 suspected Islamist terrorists in Toronto and are believed to have foiled a major terrorist attack on the country. In November, Prime Minister Harper succeeded in passing a motion to recognize Quebec as “a nation within a united Canada.”
In February 2007, Canada's Supreme Court struck down a law that permitted foreign terrorism suspects to be detained indefinitely without charges while waiting for deportation. “The overarching principle of fundamental justice that applies here is this: before the state can detain people for significant periods of time, it must accord them a fair judicial process,” said Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.
Prime Minister Harper was re-elected in October 2008 in elections that were held a year ahead of schedule. His Conservative Party defeated the Liberal Party, 37.6% to 26.2.%. The Conservatives, however, failed to win a majority in the House of Commons and will form a minority government, the third in four years.
Canada -- Economy --
Canada’s economy is both mature and diverse, benefiting from an advanced services sector, an abundance of natural resources, sound management and free trade agreements.
The Canadian economy is the eighth largest in the world according to the IMF. As of 2007, its nominal GDP was $1.274 trillion, with growth of 2.7%. It is part of the G8 and other ‘rich clubs’ such as the OECD.
Unlike most developed economies, Canada has moved from agriculture straight to services, which now account for nearly 67.9% of GDP. This industry is very diverse and includes the retail sector, financial services, real estate, education, health, high-tech, entertainment and tourism. All these sectors are developing at a rapid rate with retail and health leading growth. The service industry employs 75% of the 17.9 million working Canadians.
Another important factor in the country’s development was the free trade agreement with the US that was signed in 1989, as well as the NAFTA treaty of 1994. These agreements linked several other key countries such as Mexico, Israel, Chile and Costa Rica to Canada and its economy. In January 2008, the country has also agreed to a Canadian-European free trade association that has further developed its robust economy.
Canada is the second-largest country in the world by land mass (after Russia), and is blessed with natural resources. Oil and lumber – and pulp & paper – are two vital industries and exports. According to the USGS, Canada has the second-largest oil reserves in the world, with its large oil and gas reserves in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan and the Athabasca Tar Sands. Canadian mines are leading producers of nickel, gold, diamonds, uranium, and lead. Canada is also one of the largest exporters of soft commodities including grains and wheat in particular.
Although manufacturing has never been a dominant sector of the economy, it has been an important secondary industry and does manufacture a significant number of cars and light aircraft, mainly in central Canada.
Canada’s sound fiscal management has been another major factor contributing to the country’s economic superiority. Prudent management has given Canada a balanced budget throughout the entire last decade.
Canada -- Culture --
Canada has two official languages—English and French—and a highly diverse culture, thanks to the contribution of Canadians of all origins. Because of its short history, Canadian culture is above all contemporary.
This is particularly evident in its authors, almost all of whom are still alive: Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Yann Martel (three recent Booker Prize winners), Marie-Claire Blais and Antonine Maillet are already well-known in the United States.
In recent decades, Canada has gained international recognition in the visual arts thanks to cutting-edge artists. Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Edward Burtynsky, Ken Lum, Ian Wallace and Genevieve Cadieux introduced new uses for photography techniques, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller used new technologies in artistic creation.
Cinema d'auteur is becoming increasingly common, thanks to veteran filmmakers such as Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, Denys Arcand, and Lea Pool, but also because of young directors such as Jean-Francois Pouliot, Denis Villeneuve, Thom Fitzgerald, Don McKellar, Keith Behrman, Zacharias Kunuk (Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner) and Guy Maddin. Canada is also recognized for its documentary and animation films and has received several awards throughout the years: Alanis Obomsawin (Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance), Peter Raymont (Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire), multi-award- winning animation short directed and written by Chris Landreth.
Flowing from a very strong oral tradition, Canadian theatre has not only world-renowned stage directors such as Robert Lepage and Denis Marleau, but also a large number of authors who have been played in the Washington, DC area. In this vein, Washington, DC area companies recently staged works by Michel Tremblay, George F. Walker, Daniel MacIvor, Stephen Massicotte, Sean Raycraft, Michael Healey, Jason Sherman.
Finally, Canadian dance is represented by several companies ranging from classical ballet to contemporary dance: National Ballet of Canada, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal, Lalala Human Steps, Marie Chouinard, O'Vertigo, and Holy Body Tattoo.
Music plays a historic role in Canada, one of the co-founders of the Jeunesses musicales mondiales. Its national icon, pianist Glenn Gould, is known throughout the world. The Montreal and Toronto symphony orchestras have a number of records to their credit and toured internationally. Chamber music also occupies a special place—Tafelmusik or the St. Lawrence Quartet have won several prizes. Singers such as Russel Braun and Michael Schade, flutist Robert Aitken and pianist Marc-Andre Hamelin are oft-invited performers, and composers Murray Schafer and Claude Vivier are also played regularly in the United States.
Canadian Pop musicians continue to earn major awards and nominations and are recognized for their groundbreaking styles. Canadian Indie musicians have reached international critical acclaim with their outstanding talent and original sound and for breaking markets without the assistance of the big record labels.
To learn more about arts and culture in Canada, please click on the any of the following links:
Canada-- Political system, law and government --
In Canadian English, the word government is used to refer both to the whole set of institutions that govern the country, and to the current political leadership. For example a Canadian could be a government employee but never a state employee, and they would support or oppose the policies of the Harper government but never the Harper administration.
Because Canada is a federation, the government may refer to the federal, provincial or municipal government. Because "aboriginal peoples ... had legal systems prior to the arrival of Europeans", it could also refer to an aboriginal government.In this article, government refers to the structure of the Canadian federal state.
SOVEREIGN- Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, is the sovereign and head of state of Canada, and gives repository of executive power, judicial and legislative power; as expressed in the constitution: the Executive Government and Authority of and over Canada is hereby declared to continue and be vested in the Queen." However, sovereignty in Canada has never rested solely with the monarch due to the English Bill of Rights of 1689, later inherited by Canada, which established the principle of Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, the monarch is still the sovereign of Canada.
In Canada's federal system, the headship of state is not a part of either the federal or provincial jurisdictions; the Queen reigns impartially over the country as a whole; meaning the sovereignty of each jurisdiction is passed on not by the Governor General or the Canadian parliament, but through the Crown itself. Thus, the Crown is "divided" into eleven legal jurisdictions, eleven "crowns" – one federal and ten provincial.The Fathers of Confederation viewed this system of constitutional monarchy as a bulwark against any potential fracturing of the Canadian federation.
In practice, the sovereign rarely personally exercises her executive, judicial or legislative powers; since the monarch does not normally reside in Canada, she appoints a governor general to represent her and exercise most of her powers. The person who fills this role is selected on the advice of the prime minister. "Advice" in this sense is a choice generally without options since it would be highly unconventional for the prime minister's advice to be overlooked; a convention that protects the monarchy. As long as the monarch is following the advice of her ministers, she is not held personally responsible for the decisions of the government. The governor general has no term limit, and is said to serve "at Her Majesty's pleasure"; however, the practice is for the governor general to be replaced after about five years in office.
Just as the sovereign's choice of governor general is on the prime minister's advice, the vice-regal figure exercises the executive powers of state on the advice of the ministers of the Crown who make up the Cabinet. The term "the Crown" is used to represent the power of the monarch.
Though the sovereign or viceroy rarely intervene directly in political affairs, the real powers of the position of the monarch in the Canadian Constitution should not be downplayed. The monarch does retain all power, but it must be used with discretion, lest its use cause a constitutional crisis. Placement of power in the sovereign's hands provides a final check on executive power. If, for instance, she believed a proposed law threatened the freedom or security of her citizens, the Queen could decline Royal Assent. Furthermore, armed removal of her by parliament or government would be difficult, as the monarch remains Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, who swear an oath of allegiance to her.
CABINET- The Prime Minister of Canada is currently Stephen Harper. The prime minister is appointed by the governor general, but to ensure the continuity of a stable government, this person must have the confidence of the House of Commons to lead the government. In practice, the position usually goes to the leader of the political party that has the most seats in the lower house. On several occasions in Canadian history no party has had a majority in the House of Commons and thus one party, usually the largest, forms a minority government. As of 2008, Canada's government has a minority government.
The prime minister holds office until he resigns or is removed by the governor general; therefore, the party that was in government before the election may attempt to continue to govern if it so desires, even if it holds fewer seats than another party. Coalition governments are rare at the federal level: since Sir John A. Macdonald's Liberal-Conservative governments in the mid 1800s, Canada has had only one other coalition government, the Union Government of Sir Robert Borden during World War I.
Political parties are not mentioned in the constitution. By the convention of responsible government, the prime minister and most of his cabinet are members of Parliament so they can answer to Parliament for their actions. But any Canadian adult is constitutionally eligible for the position, and prime ministers have held office after being elected leader but before taking a seat in the Commons (John Turner, for example), or after being defeated in their constituencies. The Prime Minister selects the other ministers of the Crown to head the various government departments and form the Cabinet; these individuals are appointed by the governor general and remain in office at the pleasure of the viceroy.
If the Commons passes a motion of no confidence in the government, the prime minister and the rest of Cabinet are expected either to resign their offices or to ask for a dissolution of Parliament so that a general election can be held. To avoid a no-confidence motion from passing, parties enforce strong party discipline, in which members of a party – especially from the ruling party – are strongly urged to vote the "party line" (see Chief Government Whip (Canada)) or face consequences. While a member of a governing party is free to vote his conscience, he is constrained by the fact that voting against the party line (especially in confidence votes) might prevent advancement within the party or lead to expulsion from the party. Expulsion leads to loss of election funding and the former party backing an alternative candidate. While the government likes to keep control of the agenda, by convention a government can only fall if a money bill (financial or budget) is defeated. However, if a government finds that it can not pass any legislation, it is common (but not required) for a vote of confidence to be held. In addition, the prime minister may declare a given bill to be a matter of confidence.
When there are enough seats for another party to form a government after the resignation of a prime minister, the governor general may ask the other party to try to form the government. This became clear after the King-Byng Affair in 1926. In practice, it is unlikely that a new alliance could be formed that would have the confidence of Parliament.
LEGISLATIVE POWER- Canada's Parliament consists of the Monarch and a bicameral legislature: an elected House of Commons and an appointed Senate. In practice, legislative power rests with the party that has the majority of seats in the House of Commons, which is elected from 308 constituencies (also called ridings or electoral districts) for a period not to exceed five years. Canada's highly disciplined political parties and first-past-the-post electoral system have, since the 1970s, usually given one political party control of the Commons. The five-year period has only been extended once: in 1916. The prime minister may ask the governor general to dissolve Parliament and call new elections at virtually any time. That request was refused only once, during the minority government of 1926. By custom, prime ministers usually call new elections after four years in power.
The Senate is not without power. Because the governing party generally nominates its supporters as senators, the Senate's influence is usually the greatest when a new party comes to power after another party has been in power a long time. The Constitution contains a special provision that allows the prime minister to counteract that situation by recommending the appointment of an additional eight senators.
JUDICARY- Criminal law, most of which is contained in the federal Criminal Code (R.S.C. 1985, Chapter C-46), is uniform throughout the nation, and is under federal jurisdiction. Civil law is based on the common law of England, except in Quebec, to which Britain granted the right in 1774 to retain the French civil code. While legislation regarding non-criminal matters is generally different from province to province, some non-criminal legislation, such as the federal Divorce Act (R.S.C. 1985, Chapter 3 (2nd Supp.)), is applicable throughout the nation. Justice is administered by federal, provincial, and municipal courts.
The Supreme Court of Canada is the court of last resort. The Supreme Court has nine justices, who are appointed by the governor general and led by the Chief Justice of Canada. This court hears appeals from decisions rendered by the various appellate courts from the provinces and territories. Trial courts from common law provinces are required to follow previous decisions from both the Supreme Court of Canada and the appellate court of its respective province or territory. In contrast, a Quebec trial-level court may treat judgments from higher courts to be persuasive but not binding. See Courts of Canada.
FEDERALISM- Residual power — that is, all powers not specified in the Constitution — resides with the federal government. The original intent of this provision was to avoid the sectionalism which had resulted in the American Civil War; however, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ruled in 1895 that the federal government could exercise its residual power only in wartime. As a result, responsibilities for new functions of government such as labour law or social welfare had to be accommodated under powers specified in the British North America Act. Many ended up being assigned to the provinces, so that today Canada is a highly decentralized federation. Further decentralization of functions has been implemented to accommodate Quebec. All provinces however have the right to assume the powers now exercised only by Quebec.
Each province has a lieutenant-governor to represent the Canadian sovereign, a premier and cabinet to advise the viceroy, and a (unicameral) legislature. Provincial governments operate under a parliamentary system similar in nature to that of the federal government, with the premier chosen in the same manner as the prime minister. Lieutenant governors are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister.