Like in many nations, Canada’s government started in 1876 and is composed of multiple types of government The four different governments we have are:
- A constitutional monarchy
- Representative democracy
- A federal system
- A party system
A constitutional monarchy is a governmental system that follows the British political traditions, in that it recognizes a monarch as head of state within the parameters of the Canadian Constitution. The monarch has a large symbolic role in Canada. A constitutional government differs from an absolute monarch, in that an absolute monarch has complete power over a nation and isn’t bounded by a constitution. The monarch of Canada has some power over the government, in accordance to the Constitution. However, the prime minister is, of course, the head of the government and has the true political power.
The governor general is the monarch’s representative in Canada. He/she is appointed on advice of the Canadian government. The governor general has the following duties:
- Opens parliament
- Gives royal assent to bills
- Appoints officials
- Greets foreign leaders and dignitaries
- Formally acknowledges contributions of Canadians with awards and medals
The governor general’s main duty is to perform constitutional duties for the Monarch within the parameters of parliamentary democracy and responsible government as a patron of proper governance.
The second type of government present in Canada is representative democracy. In representative democracy, people govern the nations by vesting their power in elected officials, which contrast direct democracy. In direct democracy, the citizens influence the decisions made by the government, whereas in Canada, representative democracy, we elect members and give them the power to govern the nation. Elected officials in representative democracy are accountable to the public.
The third type of government currently found in Canada is the federal system. This essentially means power is distributed across three levels of government: federal, provincial, and municipal.
At the federal level, decisions are made on behalf of “all” citizens. The people in the federal government deal with:
- Postal Service
- Taxes, loans, fees, and tariffs
The federal government essentially deals with all the “big” and “heavy” duties of Canada. The current leader of our federal government is the prime minister, which is currently Stephen Harper.
One below the federal government, in terms of power, is the provincial government. The decisions made by the federal government are best handled locally. The leader of the provincial government is the premier, which is currently Gordon Campbell. The people in the provincials government deal with:
- Medical care
- Provincials police
- Taxes, loans, and fees
Last, but not least, the remaining power is vested upon the municipal government, which has the closest contact with individual citizens. The leader of the municipal government is the major, which is currently Gregor Robertson. The municipal government deals with:
- Snow removal
- Water supply
- Garbage & sanitation
- Public transit
- Local police
- Taxes, loans, and fees
As can be seen, all three levels of government collect taxes, loans and fees. The federal government collects income tax, provincial government collects sales tax, and municipal government collects property tax.
The 4th and last type of government present in Canada is the party system. The party system is representative at all three levels belonging to political parties. Political parties are groups of people with similar beliefs, ideas, and plans about how to best govern (also known as ideologies). These political parties promote their ideologies to gain support from the public. Political parties have may function at all levels of government or have the option of choosing to participate in only one or two levels of government. The three major political parties in Canada are:
- New Democrats (NDP)
Bloc Quebecois, for instance, only operates at the federal level.
Essentially, these four types of government are found in Canada and is what currently running our nation.