Under the Constitution, the federal government has power, through immigration laws, to remove (or deport) foreign-born people from the country. The conditions for deportation have changed over the years, and deportation has been used for political as well as security purposes. Canadian deportation policy – often controversial – provides a window into the concerns of the state over the course of its history.
Refugees and asylum seekers flee their countries in hopes of safety abroad. Governed by the 1951 UN Refugee Convention, refugee status is a matter of both international and domestic law. Historically, Canada has assisted many refugees from all over the world. However, human migration is a complex phenomenon, and Canada's refugee policies are also not immune to the influence of political and popular opinion.
Immigration policy is the most explicit part of a government's population policy. In a democratic state such as Canada, only rates of immigration (migrants entering Canada) – not those of death, birth or emigration (migrants leaving Canada) – can be effectively regulated by government. Since Confederation, immigration policy has been tailored to grow the population, settle the land, and provide labour and financial capital for the economy. Immigration policy also tends to reflect the racial attitudes or national security concerns of the time.
Created in 1961, the Office québécois de la langue française is a Québec public institution responsible for linguistic officialization, terminological recommendations and the francization of the language of work in both the public and the private sectors. Since 1977, it has been responsible for ensuring that the Charte de la langue française is complied with in Québec, and for monitoring the province’s language situation.
Parliamentary Procedure and Practice with an Introductory Account of the Origin and Growth of Parliamentary Institutions in the Dominion of Canada, by Sir John George Bourinot, Clerk of the Canadian House of Commons, was published in 1884, with 3 later editions in 1892, 1903 and 1916.
In the 1985 Singh case, the Supreme Court of Canada declared that the legal guarantees of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms apply to "everyone" physically present in Canada, including foreign asylum seekers. The court also said refugees have the right to a full oral hearing of their claims, before being either accepted into the country or deported. The decision drastically changed the way refugees are dealt with in Canada.
Coalition governments are created when different political parties co-operate by forming a temporary alliance large enough to enjoy the confidence of Parliament, allowing them to form a government. Members of all parties in the coalition are appointed to Cabinet. This sometimes happens when no single party has achieved a majority of seats in the House of Commons or provincial legislature. Federal coalitions normally appear during periods of crisis such as war or political breakdown. The strengthening of party affiliations and the development of the party system since Confederation has made coalitions more difficult to negotiate. Politicians have become wary of the long-term results of coalitions and are reluctant to introduce them.
Members of provincial and territorial governments are elected to single-representative constituencies (or “ridings”), which have different boundaries to those of federal Members of Parliament. They are most often elected to four year terms, except in Nova Scotia and Yukon, where members sit for up to five years. Candidates run as members of political parties or as independents. Any Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years of age can run for office in the province or territory in which they have lived for a set period of time.
The judiciary – collectively, the judges of the law courts – is the branch of government in which judicial power is vested. It is independent of the legislative and executive branches. Judges are public officers appointed to preside in a court of justice, to interpret and apply the laws of Canada.
Carbon pricing is an effort by government to raise the cost – by taxes or by regulation – of carbon-based fossil fuels, in the hope of reducing their use, thereby limiting greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. In 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a national climate-change policy that included a system of carbon pricing across Canada. Under the plan, each province must adopt carbon pricing by January 2018, or Ottawa will impose its own carbon levy in that jurisdiction.
The Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) was an agricultural marketing board headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Established in 1935, for much of its history it was the sole buyer and seller of Prairie wheat and barley destined for export from Canada or for human consumption in Canada. Referred to as the “single desk,” under this model it was illegal for farmers to sell their grain to anyone other than the CWB. Following a change in government policy, the single-desk model was discontinued in August 2012, and the CWB became a voluntary marketing organization. In July 2015, G3 Global Grain Group purchased a majority stake in the CWB, creating a new firm called G3 Canada Ltd. The company’s headquarters remain in Winnipeg.
The term francophonie has been in common use since the 1960s. It has several meanings. In its most general sense, it refers to all peoples and communities anywhere in the world that have French as their mother tongue or customary language. The term can also refer to the wider, more complex network of government agencies and non-government organizations that work to establish, maintain and strengthen the special ties among French-speaking people throughout the world. Lastly, the expression “La Francophonie” is increasingly used as shorthand for the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (International Organisation of La Francophonie).
The Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, also known as the Bird Commission in honour of its chair, Florence Bird, was established on 3 February 1967. More than 900 people appeared at its public hearings over a period of six months. In addition to providing an overview of the status of women, the report tabled on 7 December 1970 included 167 recommendations for reducing gender inequality across the various spheres of Canadian society.
Through its history, Canada has taken a series of increasingly bold steps to develop from a British colony into an independent nation. Both the world wars were turning points, with Canada's military sacrifices giving it the strength and confidence to demand its own voice on the world stage. In the postwar era, Canada has maintained its role in both Western and global alliances. However, relations with the United States – because of its singular importance to Canadian security and trade – have dominated Canada's foreign policy since Confederation.
“Peace, order and good government” are the words used in section 91 of the British North America Act of 1867 (now Constitution Act, 1867) to define the Canadian Parliament’s lawmaking authority in relation to provincial authority. The phrase’s vague and broad definition of Parliament’s authority over provincial matters has caused tensions between federal and provincial governments over the scope of powers since Confederation. It has come to be considered the Canadian counterpart to the United States’ “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is an earnings-related, public pension plan that transfers income from workers to the retired. The CPP covers all Canadian workers except those in Québec who are covered by the parallel Québec Pension Plan (QPP). The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board manages about $300-billion in CPP assets, making it one of the largest pension fund managers in the world.
The term Member of Parliament (MP) refers to individuals elected to represent a single federal electoral district (or “riding”) in the House of Commons. As elected representatives, MPs have three main duties: legislating in Parliament, representing their riding and political party, and serving their constituents’ needs. MPs occupy different roles and levels of influence in government. They hold office until Parliament is dissolved — typically four year terms — and can serve infinite mandates, so long as they are re-elected. Any Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years old on election day can run for office. Most MPs are elected as a member of a political party, but some may campaign and sit as independents. There are 338 seats for Members of Parliament in the House of Commons.
Under Canada’s federal system, the powers of government are shared between the federal government, provincial governments and territorial governments. The territories — Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon — are governed by their respective governments, which receive their legislative authority (the ability to create laws) from the federal government. Ottawa has given territorial governments authority over public education, health and social services, and the administration of justice and municipal government. More and more of these powers have been handed down from the federal government in a process called devolution. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is the federal ministry responsible for the territories.