Federal government

In Canada, The Constitution Act gives the federal government responsibility for areas such as: defence, foreign policy and relations with other countries, the Canadian postal service, matters of criminal law and citizenship. It shares responsibility for some areas such as immigration, with the provinces.

The federal government has three branches: executive, legislative and judicial.

Executive branch: symbolizes authority, makes decisions

The formal executive authority is the Head of State, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada. The Queen is represented by the Governor General, who carries out many duties on her behalf.

The executive branch also consists of the Prime Minister, who is usually the leader of the party that elected the most members of Parliament, and the Cabinet, usually members of Parliament who are chosen by the Prime Minister to run the different departments of the government.

Legislative branch: reflects popular will, makes laws

The Parliament of Canada is the law-making body for the nation. It consists of:

  • the Queen, who gives royal assent to acts of Parliament so that they can become law;
  • the Senate, whose members are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister and who reflect regional and other interests; and
  • the House of Commons, whose members (MPs) are elected by Canadian citizens aged 18 or over.

Judicial branch administers justice

This branch includes judges and the courts.

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