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How does the Canadian government work?
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The mayor law-making body of Canadian government system is the House of Commons. Unlike the Senate, this one is an elected body which means that the Members of the House of Commons are elected by the people of Canada in general elections. These members are called MPs, what means Members of Parliament. They are at the same time representatives of some political parties and some particular parts of Canada, so called constituencies. We must know that before an election every constituency has a list of candidates who want to become a MP. That one, who gets the largest number of votes in his/her constituency, becomes a Member of Parliament to represent the constituency in the House of Commons. The candidates are members of political parties (the largest parties of these times are: Liberal party, Progressive Conservative party, New democratic party, Alliance party (V. Sauvé, M. Sauvé, 1996). The party who wins the larges number of seats in the House of Commons ordinarily forms a government and its leader becomes the Prime Minister. The second largest party becomes the Official Opposition and its leader becomes the Leader of the Opposition. This one gets the same salary as a Minister. House of Commons makes laws, gives authority for the government to raise and spend money, and takes care on government activities and discuses those activities (O´Driscoll, 2000).
MPs are elected for not more than 5 years. The House of Commons has a Speaker, a preceding officer of the House of Commons. S/he chairs and controls discussion in the House, decides which MP is going to speak next and makes sure that the rules of procedure are followed. Government supporters sit to the Speaker’s right, Members of opposition parties to the left. The first few rows of desks on the government side, near the centre, are occupied by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. Opposite of them sit the Leader of the Official Opposition and the chief members of his/her party (E. A. Forsey, 2003).
There is simultaneous translation, English and French, for all speeches, and all the proceedings are televised and recorded.
There is another branch of the government called juridical. Elements of this branch are courts, which are divided (similarly as the government in general) into three levels. The first one is created by the Supreme Court of Canada. On the second level is Federal Court and the last are Provincial Courts. The Supreme Court consists of nine judges appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the National Cabinet and hold office until they reach age 75. “This court has the final decision on constitutional questions and on defined classes of important cases of civil and criminal law. It deals also with appeals from decisions of the provincial courts of appeal” (E. A. Forsey, 2003, p. 33).
The Acts setting up the Supreme Court of Canada and the Federal Court have the same provision. For summarisation we can commemorate that Cabinet and Prime Minister as the elements of executive branch present bills; in House of Commons and Senate (representing the legislative branch) is the bill discussed and becomes a law; and finally the courts, or the juridical branch, have the power to interpret the laws and use them in practice.
Now when we know all elements of the Canadian government we can easily understand its work. The basic job of the government is law-making. But every law is preceded by a bill, which is only a proposal of the law and this bill must pass long and quite difficult process which is finished by including the new law into collection of laws. The persons who can present a bill are: the Prime Minister, members of the Cabinet and every MP. The bill is introduced in the House of Commons where it has to pass through three readings. The first reading is only a formal announcement and there is no discussion about it by now. During the second reading the House debates the general principles of the bill and, often takes a vote. Than the bill is researched by a Committee of MPs who discuss and examine the bill in details, if necessary, they also vote on changes on ports of the bill. Then the House discuss the potential changes, which are called amendments, and considers of they are necessary or not. When all considerations are done, amended bill is debated as a whole. After the House decides that everything important was said and done and the bill is complete, it is sent to the Senate where it goes through much the same process. If the Senate doesn’t agree with the bill it sends it back to the commons, where it is further examined. The Senate can reject the bill only once, for the second time the Senators must amend the bill. Then follows the last stage – the bill becomes a law by a Royal Assent which is given by signature of Governor General (occasionally by the Queen, if she is present) (O´Driscoll, 2000).
Finally, there must be mentioned another important (but not the last) element of the government, which wasn’t commemorated yet. This element is represented by the people of Canada. The common people often forget this fact and think that the politics is only for the politics. The government is not any static and death machine, it’s a living body and it grows and changes as the people do. However people use to forget how powerful they are themselves. They can decide and make a government which would (at least try to) serve and protect them. If we take it like this, we can say, that the people in fact are governing themselves, because by voicing their opinion in the election they become the ports of their government.