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Politics of Canada

Table of contents
1 Government
2 National unity
3 See also
4 External link


Canada is a constitutional monarchy with a federal system, a parliamentary government, and strong democratic traditions. Many of the country's legislative practices derive from the unwritten British parliamentary custom in which the executive and legislative branches of government are merged. In that context the executive tends to apply strict party discipline on members of its party, with the net effect of seriously diminishing the influence of its own "backbenchers" and opposition parties alike.

This situation, where control is held in the hands of the Prime Minister, has been characterized by Paul Martin as a "democratic deficit". The situation may be contrasted with the written constitutional provisions of its American neighbour that provide for the separate elections of a president and a legislature.

The political system under which Canada operates was first set forth by the Constitution Act 1867 (formerly called the British North America Act 1867) passed by the British Parliament in 1867. An effect of this was that any amendments to Canada's constitution required the approval of the British Parliament. Over time, and particularly after World War I citizens of the self-governing "dominions" began to develop a strong sense of identity, and in the Balfour Declaration 1926 the British government expressed its intent to grant full independence to these dominions. Thus in 1931 the British Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster giving legal recognition to the independence of Canada and the other "white" dominions. The British Parliament still retained its power to amend the Canadian Constitution. This was an improvement, but still unacceptable for many Canadians even as this power was only treated as a formality. However, political partisanship and the inability to obtain consensus on an amending process led to the status quo remaining in effect until 1982.

Queen Elizabeth II as Queen of Canada is the repository of executive power, which she does not exercise herself. As expressed in the constitution, “the Executive Government and Authority of and over Canada is hereby declared to continue and be vested in the Queen”. The government acts in her name. The term “Crown” is usually used to represent the power of the monarchy. Government ministers are ministers of the Crown. Criminal prosecutions are made by Crown prosecutors in the name of the monarch.

Since the monarch does not reside in Canada, she appoints a governor general to represent her and exercise her powers. The person who fills this role is selected on the advice of the prime minister. “Advice” in this sense is a choice without options since it would cause a major political crisis if the prime minister's advice were not followed. This convention protects the monarchy. As long as the monarch is only following the advice of her ministers, she is not held personally responsible for the decisions of the government. The governor general is conventionally appointed for a five-year term that may be extended.

The prime minister is the person who has the confidence of the House of Commons to lead the government. In practice, the position goes to the leader of the strongest political party in the Commons. However, political parties are private organizations that are not mentioned in the constitution. By the convention of responsible government, the prime minister and his cabinet are members of Parliament so they can answer to Parliament for their actions. But, constitutionally, any adult Canadian is eligible for the jobs. The prime minister selects ministers to head the various government departments and form a cabinet. The members of the cabinet remain in office at the pleasure of the prime minister. If the Commons passes a motion of no confidence in the government, the prime minister and his cabinet are expected either to resign their offices or to ask for Parliament to be dissolved so that a general election can be held.

Canada's parliament consists of an elected House of Commons and an appointed Senate. The prime minister nominates Canadians to the Senate according to a formula that distributes the seats among the provinces. In practice, legislative power rests with the party that has the majority of seats in the House of Commons which is elected from a current 301 constituencies (or electoral districts) for a period not to exceed five years. Canada's highly disciplined political parties and first-past-the-post electoral system have, since the 1970s, almost always given one political party control of the Commons. The five-year period has only been extended once, in 1916. The prime minister may ask the governor general to dissolve Parliament and call new elections at any time. That request was refused only once, during the minority government of 1926. For strategic reasons, prime ministers usually call new elections after four years in power.

Since 1867 there have been only three Canada-wide referenda.

Criminal law, based largely on British law, is uniform throughout the nation and is under federal jurisdiction. Civil law is also based on the common law of England, except in Quebec, to which Britain granted the right in 1774 to retain the French civil code. Justice is administered by federal, provincial, and municipal courts. Beyond the lower courts and courts of appeal, the Supreme Court of Canada is the court of final jurisdiction.

Each province is governed by a premier and a single, elected legislative chamber. A lieutenant governor, recommended by the prime minister and then appointed by the governor general, represents the Crown in each province. A lieutenant governor, like the governor general, has real power only in extreme emergencies.

Canada: Political Information

Country name: Data code: CA

Government type: Constitutional Monarchy Capital: Ottawa, Ontario

Administrative divisions: 10 provinces and 3 territories*; Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories*, Nova Scotia, Nunavut*, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Yukon Territory*

Independence: 1 July 1867 (from the United Kingdom)

National holiday: Canada Day, 1 July (1867)

Constitution: 17 April 1982 (Constitution Act); originally, the machinery of the government was set up in the British North America Act of 1867; charter of rights Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms adopted in 1982, interpreted by case law and unwritten constitutional conventions

Legal system: based on English common law, except in Quebec, where a civil law system, centred around the Civil Code of Quebec and based on early French customary law and the Napoleonic Code prevails; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations. See Law of Canada.

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

Legislative branch: The bicameral Parliament consists of the Senate and the House of Commons. Currently the Senate is limited to 104 members, who are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister to serve until age 75. The number of Senators allowed was exceeded once when Prime Minister Brian Mulroney sought to ensure the passage of a national sales tax. The House of Commons currently has 301 members elected by a plurality of popular votes in separate constituencies for terms that do not exceed five years. The five-year term has been exceeded once when Prime Minister Robert Borden perceived the need during World War I. Judicial branch: Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the prime minister alone without review.

Political parties and leaders: by number of elected representatives

Notable Government Departments, Agencies, and Crown Corporations International organization participation: ABEDA, ACCT, AfDB, APEC, AsDB, Australia Group, BIS, C, CCC, CDB (non-regional), Council of Europe (observer), The Commonwealth, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, ECLAC, ESA (cooperating state), FAO, La Francophonie, G-7, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICC, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, Kyoto Protocol, MINURCA, MINURSO, MIPONUH, MONUC, NAM (guest), NAFTA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS, OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, UN, UN Security Council (temporary), UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIKOM, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNTAET, UNTSO, UNU, UPU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, Zangger Committee

Flag description: three vertical bands of red (hoist side), white (double width, square), and red with a red maple leaf centred in the white band (See Flag of Canada)

Principal Government Officials

Head of State: Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General: Adrienne Clarkson
Prime Minister: Paul Martin
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Security: Anne McLellan
Ambassador to the United Nations: Allan Rock

Political conditions

For almost forty of the past fifty years, the position of PM has been held by a Quebecer. Quebecers have always been prominent in the federal cabinet and, by law, must hold three of the nine positions on the
Supreme Court of Canada.

Jean Chrétien's Liberal Party won another majority victory in the November 2000 general elections. Mr. Chrétien, a Member of Parliament from his native Quebec, became the first Prime Minister to lead three consecutive majority governments since 1945, as the Liberals increased their majority in Parliament to 57% (172 of the 301 Parliamentary seats), with 40.9% of the popular vote. The Canadian Alliance, which did well in western Canada but was unable to make significant inroads in the East, won the second-highest number of seats (66). As the second largest party in the House of Commons they formed the Official Opposition.

Federal-provincial relations is a regular issue in Canadian politics: Quebec wishes to preserve and strengthen its distinctive nature, western provinces desire more control over their abundant natural resources, especially energy reserves; industrialized Central Canada is concerned with its manufacturing base, and the Atlantic provinces strive to escape from being less affluent than the rest of the country.

The government of Jean Chrétien responded to these different regional needs by seeking to rebalance the Canadian confederation, giving up its spending power in areas of provincial jurisdiction, while attempting to strengthen the federal role in other areas. The federal government has reached agreement with a number of provinces returning to them authority over job training programs and is embarked on similar initiatives in other fields. Meanwhile, it has attempted to strengthen the federal role on interprovincial trade, while also seeking central regulation of securities.

National unity

National unity has been a major issue for Canada since its very beginning with the forced union of the Canadas in 1840. In recent years some residents of the oil-rich province of Alberta have threatened separation from Canada if the Kyoto Protocol was applied in the country (which has been ratified). However, the predominant issue concerning Canadian national unity is the ongoing conflict between the French-speaking majority of Québec and the English-speaking majority of Canada.

History of national unity pre-Confederation

For hundreds of years since the European discovery of the Americas, the vast majority of the North American continent (from present-day Quebec to present-day Louisiana) was under French control and known as New France. However, in 1763, with the signing of the Treaty of Paris, France yielded control of its colonies in North America to Britain in order to retain control of its sugar-rich colony of Guadaloupe. Tensions quickly developed between French Canadians and their new British rulers due to the application of British laws such as the Penal Laws and the Test Act which guaranteed the exclusion of French-speaking Catholics from administrative positions in Canada. But once the American Revolution was underway, Britain sought the loyalty of the discontent French Canadian population with the passing of the Quebec Act in 1774. The act allowed for the restoration of French civil law and British criminal law and allowed the Catholic Church to extend its power. However, the representative assembly demanded by both the Canadiens and the few British merchants of the colony were ignored. The colony's policies, however, were still controlled by a British-appointed governor.

Shortly after, the American War of Independence provoked a mass migration of American Loyalists from the United States into Canada. The newly-arrived and influential Loyalists refused to be ruled by a British-appointed governor, as were the French, and requested that the political institutions of the pre-independence Thirteen Colonies be brought to their new home. That is to say, they requested the creation of a legislative assembly with elected representatives, as well as the formation of an executive council. The power would still rest in the hands of a British-appointed governor aided by his appointed executive council, but the latter would receive recommendations presented by the elected legislative assembly. But the Loyalists also refused to constitute a minority in the assembly, given that French Canadians were still more numerous at the time.

Following these requests, Canada (then known as the Province of Quebec) was divided into two distinct entities, each with its own elected assembly: Lower Canada (present-day Quebec) with a French-speaking and Catholic majority and Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) with a Loyalist majority. This division ensured that Loyalists would constitute a majority in their assembly. It also allowed for the application of exclusively British laws (particularly in regards to land tenure) in Upper Canada.

Despite the modernisation of political institutions, most of the recommendations brought forth by the elected assemblies were systematically ignored by the Executive Council. This was particularly true in Lower Canada with an assembly consisting mostly of French-Canadian members of the Parti Patriote. This impasse created considerable tensions between the French-Canadian political class and the British. In 1834 Louis-Joseph Papineau, a French-Canadian political leader, submitted a document entitled the 92 Resolutions to the Crown. The document requested vast democratic reforms such as the transfer of power to elected representatives. The reply came three years later in the form of the Russell Resolutions, which not only rejected the 92 Resolutions but also revoked one of the assembly's few real powers, the power to pass its own budget. This rebuff heightened tensions and escalated into armed rebellions in 1837 and 1838, known as the Patriotes Rebellion. The uprisings were short-lived, however, as British troops quickly defeated the rebels and burned their villages in reprisal.

The rebellion was also contained by the Catholic clergy, which, by representing the only empowered French-Canadian institution, exercised a tremendous influence over its constituents. During and after the rebellions Catholic priests and the Bishop of Montreal told their congregants that questioning established authority was a sin that would prevent them from receiving the sacraments. The Church refused to give Christian burials to supporters of the rebellion. With the liberal and progressive forces supressed in Lower Canada, the Catholic Church's influence characterized most of the French Canadian/British relations from the 1840s until the Quiet Revolution secularized Quebec society in the 1950s and 60s.

Following the rebellions, in May 1838, the British government sent Governor General Lord Durham to Lower and Upper Canada in order to investigate the uprisings and to bring forth solutions. His recommendations were formulated in what is known as "Lord Durham's Report" and suggested the forced union of the Canadas with the expressed purpose of "making [Lower Canada] an English Province [that] should never again be placed in any hands but those of an English population." Doing so, he claimed, would speed up the assimilation of the French-Canadian population, "a people with no history, and no literature" into a homogenized English population. This would prevent what he considered to be ethnic conflicts.

As a result, Lower Canada and Upper Canada, with its enormous debt, were united in 1840 and French was banned in the legislature for about eight years. Eight years later, an elected and responsible government was granted. Thus the French-speaking majority of Canada East became a political minority in a unified Canada. This, as Lord Durham had expressed in his report, allowed for a legitimized English political control over the former French-speaking majority of Canada and ensured the colony's loyalty to the British crown.

History of Quebec sovereignty movements

Present-day politics regarding Quebec sovereignty have largely pursued a reversal of this situation by increasing Quebeckers' control over their institutions and by preventing the assimilation of Quebec's distinct character.

The Quiet Revolution

In the early 1960s, the Quiet Revolution, stemming from a new assertiveness and a heightened sense of national identity among Québécois, dramatically changed the face of Quebec's institutions. The new provincial government headed by Jean Lesage and operating under the slogans "Il faut que ça change!" and "Maître chez nous" ("It must change!", "Masters in our own house") secularised government institutions, nationalised electricity production and encouraged unionising. The reforms sought to redefine the relations between the vastly working-class francophone Quebecois and the mostly anglophone business class. Thus passive Catholic nationalism stylized by Father Lionel Groulx gave way to a more active pursuit of independence and in 1963, the first bombings by the Front de libération du Québec occurred. The FLQ's violent pursuit of a socialist and independent Quebec culminated in the 1970 kidnappings of British diplomat, James Cross and then Minister of Labour, Pierre Laporte in what is known as the October Crisis.

The Quiet Revolution also forced the evolution of several political parties, and so in 1966, a reformed Union Nationale lead by Daniel Johnson, Sr, returned to power under the slogan "Equality or Independence". The new premier of Quebec stated, "As a basis for its nationhood, Quebec wants to be master of its own decision-making in what concerns the human growth of its citizens--that is to say education, social security and health in all their aspects--their economic affirmation--the power to set up economic and financial institutions they feel are required--their cultural development--not only the arts and letters, but also the French language--and the Quebec community's external development--its relations with certain countries and international bodies".

For the federal government this demand for an enormous shift in power to a province done under a threat of a possible unilateral declaration of independence, was cause for great alarm. In 1967, on the initiative of Premier John Robarts of Ontario, a provincial first ministers' conference was held in Toronto to discuss the Canadian confederation of the future. From this, a first round of what would become annual constitutional meetings of all provincial premiers and the prime minister of Canada, was held in February 1968. On the initiative of Prime Minister Lester Pearson the conference undertook to address the desires of Quebec. Amongst numerous initiatives, the conference members examined the recommendations of a Bilingualism and Biculturalism Commission, the question of a Charter of Rights, regional disparities, and the timeliness of a general review of the Constitution (the British North America Act).

In 1968, René Lévesque's Mouvement souveraineté-association joined forces with the Rassemblement pour l'indépendance nationale and the Ralliement national to create the Parti Québécois; Quebec's provincial political party that has since espoused the province's sovereignty. That same year, Pierre Trudeau became Prime Minister of Canada by winning the leadership race of the federal Liberal Party. He would undertake numerous legislative measures to enhance the status of Quebec within Canada, including the passage into law in 1969 of the Official Languages Act that expanded upon the original official language status of both French and English from the 1867 British North America Act.

The Parti Québécois and the 1980 referendum

In 1976 the Parti Québécois won the provincial election in Quebec with a 41.4 per cent to 33.8 per cent margin over the Parti libéral du Québec, and in a 1980 referendum the Parti Québécois sought a mandate from the people of Quebec to negotiate new terms of association with the rest of Canada. The resolution read: "The Government of Quebec has made public its proposal to negotiate a new agreement with the rest of Canada, based on the equality of nations; this agreement would enable Quebec to acquire the exclusive power to make its laws, levy its taxes and establish relations abroad--in other words, sovereignty--and at the same time to maintain with Canada an economic association including a common currency; no change in political status resulting from these negotiations will be effected without approval by the people through another referendum; on these terms, do you give the Government of Quebec the mandate to negotiate the proposed agreement between Quebec and Canada?" With an 84-per-cent voter turnout, 60 per cent of Quebec voters rejected the proposal.

After the 1980 referendum was defeated, the government of Quebec passed Resolution 176, which states, "A lasting solution to the constitutional issue presupposes recognition of the Quebec-Canada duality."

Meeting in Ottawa on June 9, 1980, the newly re-elected Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and the provincial premiers set an agenda and gave their ministers responsibility for constitutional issues and a mandate to proceed with exploratory discussions to create a new Canadian Constitution. However, given the separatist government of Quebec's position that there be two nations established first in accordance with Resolution 176, approval by Quebec of any changes to the BNA Act was impossible. This assertion of national duality was immediately followed with Resolution 177 that stated, "Quebec will never agree, under the existing system, to the patriation of the Constitution and to an amending formula as long as the whole issue of the distribution of powers has not been settled and Quebec has not been guaranteed all the powers it needs for its development." As such, Quebec's government refused to approve the new Canadian Constitution a year later. This failure to approve was a highly symbolic act, but one without direct legal consequence as no one questions the authority of the Canadian Constitution within Quebec.

After losing the vote to secede from Canada, the government of Quebec made specific demands as minimum requirements for the Province of Quebec. These demands included control by the government of Quebec over:

The province of Quebec already had theoretically full control over education, health, mineral resources, supplemental taxation, social services, seniors' retirement pension funds, inter-provincial trade, and other areas affecting the daily lives of its citizens. Many Canadians viewed the additional demands as too greatly reducing the power of the federal government, assigning it the role of tax collector and manager of the national border with the United States. Others viewed these changes as desirable, concentrating power in the hands of Québécois politicians, who were more in tune with Québécois desires and interests.

Though the Parti Québécois government said that the federal government of Canada would be responsible for international relations, Quebec proceeded to open its own representative offices in foreign countries around the world. These quasi-embassies were officially named "Quebec Houses". Today, the international affairs minister is responsible for the less expensive Quebec delegation system.

Constitutional issues since 1982

Subsequently, an agreement between the federal government and all provincial governments (except Quebec's) agreed to Canada's assumption of full responsibility for its own constitution in 1982 (formerly the responsibility of the United Kingdom). The agreement was enacted as The Canada Act by the British Parliament, and was proclaimed into law by Queen Elizabeth II on April 17, 1982. In Canada this was called the patriation of the Constitution.

This action (followed by the creation of a new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) came from an initiative by Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau to create a multicultural and bilingual society in all of Canada. Some Canadians saw Trudeau's actions as an attempt to "shove French down their throats" (a common phrase at the time). Many Québécois viewed his compromise as a sell-out and useless: Quebec already had a Charter enacted in 1975 and was not interested in imposing French on other provinces; rather, it wished to safeguard it inside Quebec. Many Canadians recognize that the province of Quebec is distinct and unique but they do not conclude from this that Quebec merits a position of greater autonomy than the other provinces, which they feel would be the result of granting special powers that are unavailable to the other provinces.

The government of Quebec, in line with its policy of the duality of nations, objected to the new Canadian constitutional arrangement of 1982 (the patriation), because its formula for future constitutional amendments failed to give Quebec veto power over all constitutional changes.

Some believe that the leaders of Quebec used their refusal to sign the 1982 Constitution as a bargaining tool to gain leverage in future negotiations, because the federal Canadian government desired (though it is not legally necessary) to include all the provinces willingly into the new Constitution. The National Assembly of Quebec rejected the repatriation unanimously. In spite of Quebec's lack of assent, the Constitution still applies within Quebec and to all Quebec residents. Many in Quebec felt that the other provinces' adoption of the constitution without Quebec's assent was a betrayal of the central tenets of federalism. They referred to the decision as the "Night of the Long Knives."

Two later initiatives sought to address Quebec's desire to secure greater autonomy within the Canadian federation. In 1987 Prime Minister Brian Mulroney attempted to address these concerns and bring the province into an amended constitution. Quebec's provincial government, then controlled by a party that advocated remaining in Canada on certain conditions (the Parti libéral du Québec), endorsed the accord (called the Meech Lake Accord). Premier Robert Bourassa of Quebec referred to it as the first step towards gaining new powers from the federal government. The accord failed, however, as the legislatures in Newfoundland and Manitoba did not support it, primarily because they saw it as a change which granted exclusive powers to the province of Quebec and would severely and permanently weaken the country.

The federal government, the twelve provincial and territorial governments, and four first peoples' groups then negotiated a second proposed constitutional accord in 1992--the Charlottetown Accord. Despite near-unanimous support from the country's political leaders, this second effort at constitutional reform was rejected in a nation-wide October 1992 referendum. Only 32 per cent of British Columbians supported the accord, because it was seen there and in other western provinces as blocking their hopes for future constitutional changes, such as Senate reform. In Quebec 57 per cent opposed the accord, seeing it as a step backwards compared to the Meech Lake Accord.

In 1990 after the Meech Lake Accord had failed, Quebec representatives of the ruling Progressive Conservative Party left to form the Bloc Québécois, a federal political party intent on defending Quebecois' interests while pursuing independence. In the 1993 federal elections the Bloc Québécois became the official opposition. The following year, the provincial Parti Québécois, also separatist, was elected in Quebec. The two parties' popularity led to a second referendum on independence in 1995, with the question: "Do you agree that Quebec should become sovereign, after having made a formal offer to Canada for a new economic and political partnership, within the scope of the bill respecting the future of Quebec and of the agreement signed on June 12, 1995?" The June 12 agreement was between the Bloc Québécois, the Parti Québécois and the Action démocratique du Québec and described guidelines for post-referendum negotiations with Canada.

This referendum was a major crisis for the country. The federalist faction argued not only that the question posed was ambiguous, but also that a 50%-plus-one result in favour of sovereignty meant that 12% of Canadian citizens (50% of Quebec's population) were able to determine the fate of the entire nation. Held only in Quebec on October 30, 1995, the referendum resulted in a narrow 50.56%-to-49.44% decision against Quebec sovereignty, with a 93% voter turnout. One of the leaders of the separatist cause, Quebec's Premier Jacques Parizeau, vowed to hold another referendum in his defeat speech, saying "It's true we have been defeated, but basically by what? By money and the ethnic vote. All it means is that in the next round, instead of us [francophones] being 60 or 61 per cent in favour, we'll be 63 or 64 per cent." This remark caused a huge public outcry because it was perceived as racist, and Parizeau resigned shortly after.

Parizeau and his supporters claimed that the money issue referred to the spending made by federal agencies for the October 27 federalist rally in Montreal. The total cost was estimated at approximately $4 million, which is more than was spent by both the Yes and No sides during the campaign. Statisticians refer to "ethnic vote" as being the traditional voting pattern in Quebec, where the francophone vote is split between federalist and sovereignist elements (40 and 60% respectively) whereas the anglophone and allophone (in Quebec, term used to refer to residents whose native tongue is neither English or French) votes are largely federalist (roughly 93%). Allophones had traditionally given a very marginal support to sovereignty, around 8% in the 1980 referendum. But in 1995, allophone support for sovereignty dropped to 3%, despite tireless attempts at augmenting the support from the Latino, Haitian, and Arab communities who are considered more open towards Francophones. During the 2003 elections, however, surveys showed that the Children of Bill 101 (the younger generation of immigrants) were voting more and more along the lines of the francophone voting pattern.

In response to concern expressed by immigrants and English-speaking Canadians regarding the wording of the question and the possibility of another referendum, Prime Minister Chrétien referred the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada in December 1999. The Court ruled that Quebec, with less than 23 percent of Canada's population, could only accede to sovereignty if the referendum has a clear majority in favour of a clearly worded question.

Following the Supreme Court's decision, the federal government introduced legislation known as the "Clarity Bill" which set forth the guidelines for any future referendum undertaken by the government of the Province of Quebec on the subject of separation. Ironically, the definition of "clearly worded" and "clear majority" were never given in the bill. Instead, it stated that the federal government would determine "whether the question is clear" and whether a "clear majority" is attained. Sovereigntists argue that this bill grants veto power to the federal government over referenda on sovereignty.

Consequentially, with a majority vote supported by all members of the House of Commons of Canada, except for members of the Bloc Québécois party, both houses of the Parliament of Canada approved the legislation.

Current Issues

In March 2001 Bernard Landry succeeded Lucien Bouchard as premier of Quebec (see List of Quebec Premiers) and pledged to promote independence for Quebec and to hold another referendum on separation from Canada. In April 2003 Quebecers elected the Parti libéral, and Jean Charest became premier, the first solidly federalist premier since the 1960s.

Currently, such issues as medicare, unemployment, housing, education, taxes, trade and the environment preoccupy many Canadians more urgently than national unity.

See also

External link