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Canada - Government and Economy

The original government established in Canada was based on the British system of government and all decisions were taken in Britain, although there were governors appointed to the country to oversee policies in the region. The system is now a multiparty political system and each province has its own regional government. They are able to create legislation on regional matters and report directly to the Federal government. The British Queen is still officially the head of state of Canada and she appoints a Governor General to represent the interests of the Commonwealth.

Independence was officially achieved from the UK on 1st July 1867 and this date serves as Canada Day, celebrated every year. It was almost 100 years before Canada finally got its own flag though. In the early 1980s the Constitution Act gave the country a written constitution.

The Parliament buildings are located in Ottawa and both the House of Commons and the Senate building are there. The government was previously based in other parts of the country before settling in Ottawa in the mid-nineteenth century.

There are three main political parties in Canada. These are the Liberals, the Progressive Conservatives and the NDP (New Democratic Party). So far the only one not to have been in power is the NDP. In addition there are a number of smaller parties such as the Canadian Alliance which has originated in the west of the country and the Bloc Quebecois has also become an influential party. The three main parties are currently running most of the regional governments in the provinces but in British Colombia a government has been formed by the Social Credit Party. Regional parties are able to work separately from those running for Federal government.

The Governor General will serve a term of five years. The Prime Minister of the country is the leader of the party with the majority of seats in the House of Commons and serves as the heat of government. The Federal Ministry is the equivalent to the British cabinet and is appointed by the Prime Minister from those in his own party who have won seats. There are two houses for the government in Canada. There is the Senate which has permanent members who are appointed by the Governor General after consultation with the Prime Minister and who serve until they are 75. There is usually a maximum of 105 members of the Senate. The House of Commons has 308 seats and the MPs serve terms of five years after elections based on a popular vote system.

All those who are over the age of 18 are eligible to vote in Canada. In order to vote you must be a Canadian citizen and when you register to vote you need to provide proof of ID and address. Canadian citizens that live outside the country can register to vote by post. The procedure is to complete a form which can also be done online.

The Judicial branch of the government consists of the Supreme Court with judges appointed by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Governor General, the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal and a variety of regional courts overseen by the Provincial governments.

Canada has a strong economy and agriculture is a good source of income for the country. The country is only around 8% farmland but is considered to be one of the leading producers of wheat and barley in the world. Fishing is historically an important industry to the country and has remained so. Forestry is another strong resource as the majority of the country is covered in forests. The country has plentiful natural resources which include gas and oil and the exportation of minerals is another booming industry. In urban areas there are many industrial areas which are filled with factories producing a variety of products and services such as electrical goods, cars, chemicals, paper and machinery.

Unemployment stands at around 8%, which puts Canada on a par with countries such as the UK and the US and inflation is steady at below 2%. In recent years the Canadian economy has suffered a little due to the economic downturn but was not as badly affected as those in the UK or the US and predictions for 2011 are good.

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