Canadian Government and History
By Riley Priest
In Canada, its government is a constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy, and a federation. Canada's head of state is the United Kingdom monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. The governor general of Canada, David Johnston, stands in for the queen. The governor general is appointed by the monarch through advice by the prime minister. This person will then serve a 5 year term. Last, the prime minister, Justin Trudeau (pictured here), has the most power politically. He also works closely with Canada's legislature. The prime minister is indirectly elected by the people. This happens because Canadian citizens elect members of the House of Commons. Then, the leader of the Parliamentary party with the most elected members becomes the prime minister. Another part of Canada's legislature, Parliament, besides the House of Commons is the Senate. The House of Commons has 308 members that are directly elected by the people. These members serve a five year term. The Senate has 105 members that are appointed by the governor general with some advice from the prime minister. Also, citizens can vote by the age of 18, but no law requires it. Canada's judicial branch has two court systems, federal and provincial. In the federal court system, there is the federal supreme court which is the highest in the country. The nine judges that serve on this court are chosen by the prime minister and appointed by the governor-general. Canada's government is a constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy, and federation through citizens voting, their different leaders, Parliament, and how the power is shared.
Canada has a very long history that dates back 12,000 years ago when people native to Canada crossed the Bering land bridge that connected Russia to Alaska. The 12 tribes that crosses the Bering land bridge made up the First Nations of Canada. One of these tribes was the Inuit who still live in Canada today. In 1000 CE, Norse invaders from the Scandinavian peninsula settled a town on the northeast coast and traded with the Inuit. Later they left for unknown reasons. Much later in 1497, John Cabot sailed to Canada's eastern coast. He claimed Newfoundland for England. Shortly after, Jaques Cartier sailed for France in 1534 and claimed the St. Lawrence River. France called their Canadian land New France. In 1608, Samuel de Champlain added to New France by claiming Quebec, France's first permanent settlement in Canada. The population grew for the fur which had a high demand in Europe. Even though French fur traders did come to New France, French farmers and merchants came. Also, missionaries of the Catholic Church came to spread French religion and traditions. Then, Britain wanted to control the fur trade and colonized south of New France. The success of the French fur trade and the want for Britain to control it led to the French and Indian War. This war occurred in 1754 when Great Britain wanted to obtain control of the fur trade and New France. The French and Huron Indians fought against the British and Iroquois. the war ended when Great Britain took control of Quebec. Later in 1763, they forced France to sign the Treaty of Paris. This treaty made all of Canada east of the Mississippi River under British control except for two islands of of the coast of Newfoundland. Britain also forced French speaking people that lived in Nova Scotia to leave. Most of these people moved to another French colony, Louisiana. After that in 1774, Britain made the Quebec Act. This allowed the French to stay in Quebec, even though Great Britain would continue to control it. The French could also continue their traditions and culture. During 1776, many Americans moved to Quebec because they didn't believe in independence. These "Loyalists" still wanted to be under British control and went to Quebec to. Quebec then had people speaking French and English. This made many conflicts between the culture of the two groups. With the Quebec Act passed, Loyalists were annoyed that the French had lots of power. These conflicts led to the re-division of Canada.This was when primarily the English speaking citizens lived in Ontario, upper Canada, and French speaking citizens lived in Quebec, lower Canada. Much later, the War of 1812 occurred when Great Britain and France worked against the United States who tried to invade Canada( pictured above). Even though the war resulted in a draw, the U.S.-Canadian border was defined and it caused an increase in Canadian nationalism. This war also helped unite French and English Canadians. The war also resulted by having Canadians realize they didn't like being under British control. They thought Great Britain was too far away to understand their needs. Because of this, Canadians decided to rebel British control in 1837. Due to the rebellion, Britain felt the need to unify Canada and in 1841 unified upper and lower Canada to form the Province of Canada. In 1867 the British North American Act was created. This unified Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia as provinces through a constitution. Britain allowed this because controlling the provinces was expensive. The British North America Act allowed each region to sell more goods to each other. The increase of money allowed Canada to build the Transcontinental Railroad in 1886, making transportation from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean easier. Canada only had four provinces and decided to expand. Canada's leaders bought land from the Hudson Bay Company. The process was harder than they anticipated since problems arose with native people. Finally, the First Nations agreed to move to reservations of where is now Nunavut. Now, Canada had the 3 new provinces and 1 territory of Manitoba. British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, and the Northwest Territories. The railroad across Canada increased the shipment of goods and transportation. After that, gold was discovered in Yukon in 1896. Since this area's population was rapidly growing, Canada created the Yukon territory. In 1905, Saskatchewan and Alberta became provinces due to the shift in industries, growing population, and inability to have everything needed. When WWI started, Canada felt that they should contribute since they still had close ties with Britain. To help they sent military, raw materials, and food. This forced countries to view Canada as a country that could compete with world powers which increased nationalism. After that, Newfoundland joined Canada in 1949 because Canada promised to help their economy and Britain didn't want the cost of supporting them. Due to the want for the Inuit to have their own government, the Nunavut territory was created in 1999.
Quebec's Independence Movement
Quebec (pictured here) is in eastern Canada and holds a large part of Canada's industry. The official language of Quebec is French. This is because France originally colonized Quebec for the fur trade. Later, Great Britain wanted to be part of the fur trade and conquered Quebec during the French and Indian War. This divided Canada into upper, British, and lower, French. Even though Quebec was ruled by Britain, people still practiced French culture and religion. With British and French people living in Quebec, there were many religious differences. Most French people were Catholic and British people were mainly Protestant. Around the 1960's, many people wanted a separate French Quebec. Due to their different heritage, the people in Quebec thought of themselves as Quebecois instead of Canadians, increasing Quebec nationalism. In addition, Quebec citizens hat stopped going to Catholic churches and spoke more English. This led the French Canadians to believe their culture would disappear and they were being overwhelmed by the English. They also felt like they were living like second class citizens in their own country. This led them to believe they should become independent from Canada. Most French Canadians wanted to do this to protect the French culture for future generations and for other Canadians to respect their heritage. On the other hand, some people believed that becoming independent would ruin their economy, unity, and pride. During 1980 and 1995, Quebec voted on whether or not to secede. In 1955, 50.6% of Quebec voted to stay part of Canada and 49.4% wanted to become independent. Since the votes were so close, Quebec's leaders realized this would be a big controversy. Even though Quebec wants to become independent, Canada's government doesn't want them to because Quebec has lots of natural resources, is a huge economic help, and has access to many different waterways for transportation. The government passed some laws to keep Quebec part of Canada. In 1982, the Constitution Act was passed which made Canada bilingual using French and English. This made any government documents written in French and English. In Quebec now French is the official language. If any English is used in advertisements, it must be after the French and in a smaller font. These changes made some people happy, while others still wanted to become independent.