The politics of Canada function within a framework of constitutional monarchy and a federal system of parliamentary government with strong democratic traditions. Many of the country's legislative practices derive from the unwritten conventions of and precedents set by the United Kingdom's Westminster Parliament. However, Canada has evolved variations: party discipline in Canada is stronger than in the United Kingdom, and more parliamentary votes are considered motions of confidence, which tends to diminish the role of non-Cabinet Members of Parliament (MPs). Such members, in the government caucus, and junior or lower-profile members of opposition caucuses, are known as backbenchers. Backbenchers can, however, exert their influence by sitting in parliamentary committees, like the Public Accounts Committee or the National Defence Committee.
Canada's governmental structure was originally established by the British parliament through the British North America Act (now known as the Constitution Act, 1867), but the federal model and division of powers were devised by Canadian politicians. Particularly after World War I, citizens of the self-governing Dominions, such as Canada, began to develop a strong sense of identity, and, in the Balfour Declaration of 1926, the British government expressed its intent to grant full autonomy to these regions.
Thus in 1931, the British Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster, giving legal recognition to the autonomy of Canada and other Dominions. Following this, Canadian politicians were unable to obtain consensus on a process for amending the constitution until 1982, meaning amendments to Canada's constitution continued to require the approval of the British parliament until that date. Similarly, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in Britain continued to make the final decision on criminal appeals until 1933 and on civil appeals until 1949.
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Canadian political culture
is in some ways part of a greater North American and European political culture, which emphasizes constitutional law
, freedom of religion
, personal liberty
, and regional autonomy
; these ideas stemming in various degrees from the British common law
and French civil law
traditions, North American aboriginal government
, and English civic traditions
, among others.
Peace, order, and good government are the stated goals of the Canadian government. These words reveal much about the history of Canadian political culture. There is a strong tradition of loyalty, compromise and tolerance in Canadian political culture. In general, Canadian politics have not operated through revolutionary, swift changes. Instead, change is typically slow and worked out through compromise between interest groups, regional consultations, and the government of the day.
Canada also has a recent tradition of liberalism. Individual rights have risen to the forefront of political and legal importance for most Canadians, as demonstrated through support for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a relatively free economy, and liberal attitudes toward homosexuality, women's rights, and other egalitarian movements. However, there is also a sense of collective responsibility in Canadian political culture, as is demonstrated in general support for universal health care, gun control, foreign aid, and other social programs.
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Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott Trudeau
(18 October 1919 – 28 September 2000), usually known as Pierre Trudeau
or Pierre Elliott Trudeau
, was the 15th Prime Minister of Canada
from 20 April 1968 to 4 June 1979, and again from 3 March 1980 to 30 June 1984.
Pierre Trudeau was a charismatic figure who, from the late 1960s until the mid-1980s, dominated the Canadian political scene and aroused passionate reactions. "Reason before passion" was his personal motto. Admirers praise the force of Trudeau's intellect and they salute his political acumen in preserving national unity and establishing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms within Canada's constitution. His detractors accuse him of arrogance, economic mismanagement, and unduly favouring the authority of the federal government in relation to the provinces, but despite the controversy, both Trudeau's defenders and detractors agree he left a mark on the Canadian politics of his time.
Trudeau led Canada through a difficult period in Canadian history, and was often the centre of attention and controversy. Known for his flamboyance, he dated celebrities, was accused of using an obscenity during debate in the House of Commons, and once did a pirouette behind the back of Queen Elizabeth II.
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The Canadian federal election of 1974
was held on July 8, 1974 to elect members of the Canadian House of Commons
of the 30th Parliament
. The governing Liberal Party
won its first majority government since 1968
, and gave Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
his third term. The Progressive Conservatives
, led by Robert Stanfield
, did well in the Atlantic provinces
, and in the West
, but the Liberal support in Ontario
ensured a majority Liberal government.
A key issue in the election was controlling spiralling inflation. Stanfield had proposed a "90-day wage and price freeze" to break the momentum of inflation. Trudeau had ridiculed this policy as an intrusion on the rights of businesses and employees to set or negotiate their own prices and wages with the catch-phrase, "Zap! You're frozen!" In 1975, Trudeau introduced his own wage and price control system under the auspices of the "Anti-Inflation Board".
The New Democratic Party
, led by David Lewis
, lost less than two-and-a-half percentage points in popular vote, but almost half of their seats in the House of Commons
. One seat was won in New Brunswick
by independent candidate Leonard Jones
. Jones, the former mayor of Moncton
, had secured the Progressive Conservative nomination, but PC leader Stanfield refused to sign Jones' nomination papers because he was a vocal opponent of official bilingualism
, which the PC Party supported.