After living here for some time, these are some ideas Americans never quite get about Canadian politics.
- There isn’t separation of powers but rather the unity of the executive and legislative. To be the head of government (the Prime Minister) or cabinet member, one must be elected to Parliament. Cabinet members also serve their own individual districts. The PM must appear in the Parliament, which is all powerful, at certain times to answer questions about policies. The President, of course, must be announced and invited to the House for the yearly State of the Union address. The PM interestingly can shut down (prorogue) the Parliament and call elections when it best benefits his party, a power that certain U.S. presidents might love.
2. The fights over nominations to the Court or even Cabinet never occur in a Parliamentary system, when there is a majority government. The PM and the cabinet select nominees without opposition and they are then appointed and begin work immediately.
- Queen Elizabeth also reigns as the Queen of Canada. The government is referred to as the Crown, not the State. When leaders are sworn in, they pledge allegiance to the Monarch, not the Constitution, as occurs in the U.S., i.e. the President’s oath: ‘to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States.’ A Governor General, the nominal head of state, represents the Queen, who is referred to only as the Queen, as there is only one.
- Provinces are similar to states but their Premiers (leaders) never become federal heads of government, unlike the U.S., where being a Governor is considered good training for the Presidency, and propelled FDR, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to the top office.
- Marijuana will be legal everywhere in Canada this July, due to the Criminal Code being federal and uniform across the country. This is very different than the U.S, where there could be 50 different Codes.
And one other secret: the country really isn’t bi-lingual; it’s mostly in Quebec, and the U.S. has a higher percentage of dual language speakers.