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Guide

First Words in Parliament

Canada:
The Road to Democracy

Read the book
Read the Book

Canada is a democracy, which means Canadian citizens like you have the right to be involved directly or indirectly in the decision-making process.

Democracy

Canada is a representative democracy. This gives each citizen the right to elect representatives at each level of government (federal, provincial or territorial, and municipal). These representatives make decisions and laws that affect all parts of life.

Confederation

Canada became a country in 1867 when the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia decided to join together.

During the talks leading up to Confederation, two major decisions were made that determined the shape of Canada’s government:

  • Canada would be a federal union with two levels of government - federal and provincial.
  • Canada would have a central Parliament with three parts: the Monarch, the Senate and the House of Commons.

When Did Canada’s Provinces and Territories Join Confederation?

  • 1867 - Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia
  • 1870 - Manitoba, Northwest Territories
  • 1871 - British Columbia
  • 1873 - Prince Edward Island
  • 1898 - Yukon Territory
  • 1905 - Alberta, Saskatchewan
  • 1949 - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • 1999 - Nunavut

Canada’s Constitution

A constitution is essentially a rule book for a government. However, Canada’s Constitution is not a single document; it is a collection of 25 documents and a number of traditions that have either come from the British system or evolved over time.

Written Elements

The core documents of the Constitution are the Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly known as the British North America Act, 1867) and the Constitution Act, 1982 (which includes the Constitution Act, 1867, plus amendments, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms). However, the full list of written elements that make up Canada’s Constitution includes:

  • 14 Acts of British Parliament
  • 4 British Orders-in-Council
  • 7 Canadian Acts

Traditional Elements

Many features of the Canadian system of government are not included in the Constitution, such as: