Forms of Government:
Canada has a democracy which means that the citizens have individual rights and freedoms and there is an orderly system of transferring power in a democracy usually through elections where the citizens can vote. Canada also has a parliamentary government, and a constitutional monarchy. This means that Canada has a form of government in which a king or queen acts as head of state. However, the ability to make and pass legislation resides with an elected parliament as opposed to with the monarch. Currently, Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada and the Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II. The United States of America has a slightly different form of government. They have a presidential system, a federal republic and a constitutional republic. A presidential system is a system of government in which the president is constitutionally independent of the legislature. Also, a federal republic is a federation of states with a republican form of government, and a constitutional republic is a state in which the head of state and other officials are representatives of the people. These representatives must govern to the existing constitution. Furthermore, in a constitutional republic, executive, legislative, and judicial powers can be separated into distinct branches. In comparison, our governments have their similarities and their differences, one major difference being we have a prime minister and they have Barack Obama as their president.
In Canada, the process of how power is shifted/formed is through elections. In a democracy, elections ensure that citizens have a right to choose who will govern them. A riding or constituency is a geographical area in which one member of parliament (MP) sits in the House of Commons (308 seats total.) Each political party nominates one candidate to run in each of the ridings. The candidate with the most votes wins the election and the party with the most elected candidates form the government, the leader of that party then becomes the prime minister. Some rules apply that allow you to vote including: you have to be 18 years of age and be a Canadian citizen. Votes are counted using a secret ballot that ensures that there is no cheating. To get ready for the elections, political parties create campaigns that advertise the political leaders and show the general public a good first impression of them. A final rule is that a new vote must be taken every 4 years or if the prime minister loses votes in the House of Commons. In the United States of America, you also have to be 18 years of age. Presidential elections are held every 4 years, the individual running must be at least 35 years of age, and be a native-born citizen of the United States. A key difference between the two processes if that when citizens mark their ballot, they’re actually voting for electors who will ultimately decide who becomes the president. The only choice the citizens have is the candidate who they’re voting for to become an elector which collectively make the “Electoral College.” The national presidential election consists of a separate election in each of the 50 states and each state has the same number of electors as it has senators and representatives. In most states, the election is a winner-take-all and whichever ballot receives the most votes gets all of the electors. The Electoral College then votes for the president and vice-president called “electoral votes.” Normally, one of the candidates for president receives the majority vote (most number of votes,) and the vice-president will earn the second most. In rare circumstances, if no one candidate receives majority vote, the House of Representatives chooses the president from the top three presidential candidates (by number of votes.)
The major political parties in Canada are: the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democratic Party (NDP,) Green Party, and Bloc Quebecois. The leader of the Liberal party is Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Green Party is Elizabeth May, Thomas Mulcair is the leader of the NDP, Jim Wilson is the leader of the Conservatives, and Mario Beaulieu is the leader of the Bloc Quebecois. The United States of America has two major leading parties as well as many smaller ones, but for now, let’s focus on the two main political parties. The Democratic party is lead by Nancy Pelosi (House leader) and Harry Reid (Senate leader) and the Republican party is lead by Kevin McCarthy (House leader) and Mitchell McConnell (Senate leader.)
The Political Spectrum:
The NDP, Bloc Quebecois, Green party, Liberal party, and US’s Democratic party are all on the left-wing side. In contrast, the Conservative and Republican parties are both more on the right-wing side. These left-wing parties believe in government involvement in people’s lives, think that social change is inevitable, that there should be higher taxation to guarantee social services, and that the right of individuals are the highest priority. However, the right-wing parties believe that there should be minimal government involvement/participation in people’s lives, that individuals should be responsible for themselves, have traditional values, think taxes should be lowered to encourage more spending, and think that the law and order are the highest priority. In general, the fundamental differences between left-wing and right-wing ideologies center around the rights of individuals vs. the power of the government. Lastly, these beliefs result in differences in opinion on several topics such as gun control, taxes, health care, education, immigration, abortion, and many other issues.
Core Beliefs of the Political Parties:
Today, the Liberal party strongly support abortion rights, gay marriage, and ample immigration. This party opposes the right-wingers who call for the scaling back of cherished social programs such as universal health care and old age pensions. The NDP believes that the government should regulate but not necessarily rule. This party should be given credit for the availability and creation of the social programs mentioned, want to raise taxes on large corporations, and believed in organized labour in working sectors such as nursing, teaching, and others. The Conservative party favours low taxes, a less active government, a strong military force, and have traditional values. They are neutral on some issues such as gay rights, and abortion but have strong beliefs on other issues such as health care. The Bloc Quebecois is a Canadian separatist political party, and generally support similar causes to the NDP, but are focused on the Quebec government more than anything else. The Green Party started out as a party that was devoted to raising aware about the environment, but now have become a political party who tries to find solutions to complex issues seen in the country. In the United States of America, the Democratic party believe in an active government, and the promotion of social and community responsibility. Finally, the Republican party believe in limited government, with the promotion of individual rights and justice.
Their Opinions on an Issue of Importance:
Now that we know more about the political parties and where they stand, let’s talk about an issue of importance: health care. The Liberals want $20 million dollars to improve access to primary care physicians, increase the wage of workers, give access to dental care for low-income families and provide them with more health benefits, and want to expand and improve hospitals. The Conservatives want to create chronic care centres, expand home care and long-term disability availability, give people more choices on the health services they receive under OHIP, and increase physical activity. The NDP wants to cut emergency room waiting times, open 24 hour health clinics, hire more nurses, and forgive student debt for doctors so that they can work in underserved areas. The Green Party wants to reduce the cost of Pharmacare, make better health programs, promote sport, fitness, and healthy active living, reduce drug addiction, and prevent the spread of harmful diseases such as HIV/AIDS. The Bloc Quebecois plan to create a health care system that is independent and run by Quebec while maintaining universal health care, and want $250 million for tax credit for caregivers. The Democrats support more federally funded health care programs, universal health care, government involvement in health care including Medicare and Medicaid and generally support Obamacare. Finally, the Republican party wants to keep health care private, support reformed Medicare for seniors, think that companies can provide more efficient programs regarding health care than the government, and oppose some Obamacare requirements such as individuals having to buy health insurance or pay a fine.
In Canada, I like how we get to vote for who we want to win/run our country (democracy) like the United States. This is important because having a say in our country is extremely beneficial because we, as the citizens, can shape our country. Also, how we have a lot of rights and freedoms, are living in a safe and peaceful country, are multiculturally diverse, have a low crime rate and have social programs such as health care, and pension plans. Furthermore, I like how anyone can find a political party to support because there are a lot of them that cater to everyone’s needs (we’re all represented.) Additionally, I like how we’re protected under many laws and the Constitution that includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that allows us to take action if our rights were ever violated. Some aspects of the Canadian government that I don’t like is the monarch. Without the monarch, Canada would be fully autonomous and we could manage better independently. Also, even though is it a part of a democracy, federal regulation, law, and infrastructure takes a lot of time to implement. Moreover, some people in Canada feel as though they have too many rights, and aren’t active citizens in their country, therefore, being an active citizen should be encouraged. In comparison with the United States of America, I like how we have two official languages and that learning both English and French is encouraged by the government (bilingualism,) and they only have one. One aspect of the American government that I prefer is that the head of state and the head of government are both equal (in Canada, the Queen has the final say on a lot of things.) In Canada I like how there is no limit to the length of time the prime minister can stay in office, meanwhile, in the United States you’re only allowed to serve 2 terms (8 years maximum.) This is because if a prime minister is exceptional (i.e. William Lyon Mackenzie King) they can continue to run the country and let it prosper. Furthermore, in Canada there is a sense of unity (excluding Quebec) as opposed to the United States where the 50 states are easily divided on many issues. Although America does have a higher crime rate and poorly controlled illegal immigration, I prefer the lower taxes in America. Overall, there are many pros and cons to each country but Canada is superior to the United States, and we should all be very grateful that we live in such an amazing country and realize that we’re extremely fortunate.
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