Canada, the land of maple leaves, is often regarded as one of the most peaceful countries in the world. A country majorly built by immigrants is full of diversity and tolerance. In this article, we will be briefing Canada’s fundamentals in the simplest and shortest form.
Canada is a North American country noted to be the second-largest country in the world by land area having a size of roughly 9.98 million square kilometers. It is known for its beautiful landscapes, natural reserves, wildlife and having the world’s largest coastline. It shares land border with two countries, USA and Denmark (Read: How Canada has two neighbours by land). Unlike majority of the countries, Canada has two national animals (beaver and Canadian Horse) instead of having just one. Ice hockey is recognized as the national sport of Canada.
Canadian Flag is the national flag of Canada since 1964. The red and white colours symbolize pride and strength along with the maple leaf showcasing the environment of Canada where maple leaves are found. George Stanley is considered the father of this flag.
Governance and Politics
Canada is recognized as a full democracy built on the ideology of liberalism and mixed economy. It is a constitutional monarchy where the Head of the State (country) does not have any governance but only the “rule”. It is to be noted that as Canada is Commonwealth country, it recognizes the Head of State of the United Kingdom as their own Head of State too (currently King Charles III).
The governance is majorly divided into two parts:
1. Federal Government
Federal Government works at the national level and is governed by the Prime Minister of Canada (currently Justin Trudeau affiliated to Liberal Party of Canada) followed by the cabinet and Governor General (currently Mary Simon). It holds authority over territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut), ministries (like Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs etc.) and Parliament (the Parliament is has two parts, House of Commons (Lower House) having 308 members and Senate (Upper House) having 105 members).
Special status: Territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut) come under Federal Government but are ruled by non-partisan consensus government which means the government in-power for these territories don’t belong to any political party as the territories follow consensus democracy
2. Provincial Government
Provincial Government works at provincial levels. It includes Premiers of specific provinces, Ministers etc. For example, Premier of British Columbia, David Eby affiliated to British Columbia New Democratic Party.
We can say that there is an extension of the provincial government as:
Local Government works at the local level (cities, villages, municipalities, districts and regions). It includes Mayors, Councilors etc. For example, Mayor of Vancouver, Ken Sim affiliated to ABC Vancouver Party. It has their own elections but comes under the responsibility of provincial government while “local government” is not exclusively mentioned in the Canadian Constitution.
- There are 10 provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) and 3 territories, (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut).
- King Charles III is proclaimed as the The King of Canada since September 10, 2022.
- Justin Trudeau (affiliated to Liberal Party of Canada) is elected as the Canadian Prime Minister since November 4, 2015.
- There are several political parties across the country at different levels. At the federal level, there are about five (Conserative Party, Liberal Party, New Democratic Party, Green Party and Bloc Québécois).
Statistics Canada (under Canadian Government) conducts national census every 5 years. According to the Canadian Census 2021, here are some main facts:
- Population: Roughly 37 million
- Religious diversity: 55.7% Christians, 32.4% non-religious, 4.7% Muslims, 2.2% Hindus, 2.1% Sikhs, 1.1% Buddhists, 0.9% Buddhists etc.)
Today’s Canada was inhabited by various clans and cultural groups such as Stolo, Inuits, Metis and so on. It was later captured by English/British and French Empires.
Between 1534-1535, Jacques Cartier, a French explorer, arrived at the site of modern-day Gaspé and claimed ownership of the territory in the name of the French king.
In 1604, the French King, Henry IV started colonizing the land. He established ‘Acadia Colony’ under ‘New France’ making it a part of French Empire. This Acadia Colony included certain regions from Eastern part of today’s Canada which includes today’s Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. With years, the French expanded to today’s Ontario.
In 1610, the English/British King, James I started colonizing the land too. He started with capturing certain area of today’s Newfoundland & Labrador.
In 1670, British expanded their colony by establishing ‘Rupert’s Land’ as a British territory. This territory included regions from today’s Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. With time the territory kept on expanding to even today’s Nunavut, Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
In 1763, French Empire lost to British Empire by leaving Canada and dissolving their ‘Acadia Colony’ under the French King, Louis XV.
Since 1763, the British control, they established more colonies (along with existing Rupert’s Land) across today’s Canada giving them names like New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland & Labrador, Quebec, British Artic Territory, Northwest Territory, British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, District of Keewatin etc. The empire kept on making new territories and regions to divide today’s Canada for governance.
In 1867, ‘Dominion of Canada’ was founded as a country but under British rule. Sir John A Macdonald became the first Canadian Prime Minister. It included regions of today’s Canada’s Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland & Labrador.
In 1870, Rupert’s Land joined Canada.
By 1907, all British territories in North America became a part of Canada except Newfoundland & Labrador.
In 1949, ‘Dominion of Newfoundland’ was dissolved by British Empire and handed over to Canada.
On April 17, 1982, Canada gained independence from British rule proclaimed by Queen Elizabeth II (former British Head of State). The country got free from British governance but still recognizes British Head of State as its own too.
The Electoral System of Canada – Elections Canada
Census of Population (statcan.gc.ca)