History of Canada National and regional developments Canada is the country of 13 provinces in North America, most of which are located in the western United States; except for British Columbia which borders Quebec to the south and Ontario which straddles into eastern Canada in the east. The three territories that form part of the Northwest Territories and have their own territorial governments and constitution are the Chittagong area of Bangladesh and a small portion of Myanmar along the Thai-Myanmar border.
Canada started as an independent nation on July 1 1867 with its capital city at Ottawa, now known simply as “Ottawa.” On October 31 1867, Queen Victoria passed an act granting her permission to split up the Commonwealth of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Under this agreement the former colony of Nova Scotia joined the Confederation of British North America becoming part of Canada. In the same year Newfoundland became a territory alongside New Brunswick, Quebec and Prince Edward Island and New York City.Canada gained its independence from Britain after the Second World War. Canada’s first Prime Minister was John A. Macdonald, who led his party until 1955. From 1954–1974, Prime Ministers were elected by popular vote rather than by conference and they had to leave office in 1974 when John F. Kennedy ascended from the throne. A referendum on whether to retain the power of majority rule in 1975 was held and again voted to remain in 1979. This time it was decided by a margin of about 50,000 votes. After Nixon resigned due to Watergate he was replaced by Harold Holtzog, but resigned as PM in 1991, although the then opposition leader Jean Chrétien was elected in 1993. For his entire adult life he was responsible for what many call the greatest scandal in Canadian government history. His successor Paul Martin took office after two terms. He was the longest serving prime minister ever at 69 years, the youngest cabinet member (the youngest female) at 56 years of age. Since 1997, Canada has been governed by a Conservative-dominated legislature, with the election of 2007 marking the 60th anniversary of the last national election, which saw Brian Mulroney winning re-election with 52% of the popular vote. However, since 2004 all federal parties are divided between minority and majorities.In 2005, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff won the riding of Brampton West for the first time, despite a difficult campaign against David Naylor and Bob Rae. During his first term he said he would focus on cutting health care costs and improving infrastructure in urban areas while addressing issues like gun violence. Following a corruption scandal and resignations from multiple committees, he took office in 2010. In 2015 he was re-elected as leader with 75% of the current vote, making him the third in Canadian history to win two consecutive elections for office.The Official LanguagesAccording to the official languages of Canada, English, French, Spanish and Dutch are used in public affairs. Each province and territory is expected to use one of the other six to provide equal opportunities for Canadians of different cultures and backgrounds, although there is considerable overlap between each. Most of Canada’s political system is based on consensus and compromise. Elections are held on federally appointed electoral districts and seats, while some provinces and territories elect their own representative bodies. There are no proportional representation constituencies, with the least amount of representatives per district in each zone being 10 members. Districts are chosen out of congressional districts or local wards in municipalities. Representation for provincial legislatures is based on population, where in most parts of Canada more people reside in urban areas than rural areas.The Constitution of CanadaCanada is ranked 51st among countries in the world by both absolute and relative freedom. According to Freedom House, the lowest ranking is Belarus – 146/226 which is the second lowest rank in Europe, with only Finland (188/226 – 177), Romania (189/226) and Montenegro (+191/226) ahead of Canada. Brazil at the far end of the table is placed at number 43, while South Korea is the highest country on Earth with 647/1877, the fourth-lowest rank in the world. The top five countries in total freedom for 2018 are United Arab Emirates (1,076/3,521), the United States (1,062/3,516) Egypt (1,060/3,521), Indonesia (858/3,516) Singapore (858/3,516) Israel (847/3,521) France (739/3,521)While the average level of individual freedoms varies widely across the country, the best public services are available in places such as Vancouver and Montreal, whose citizens enjoy a high standard of living not much different than those who live in Canada’s wealthiest regions. Citizens of Toronto and Winnipeg will also be happy to see reduced crime rates (in 2014 the rate of homicide in Canada was 3.9 per 100 000) and better access to social services of any kind. However, the situation is significantly worse for Indigenous peoples in remote areas of the country, where access to health care, education and employment are scarce, often because of problems with language and cultural assimilation. While these challenges persist, Canada’s law enforcement agencies continue to face numerous allegations of abuse, harassment and discrimination arising from discriminatory attitudes towards Indigenous people.Canada is home to several environmental activists, including Munkaar Danner-Gans, Patrice Lumumba, Robert Hillman, Stephen Hagan, David Suzuki, Bruce McKnight, Roseanna McLaughlin, Patrick Smith and Eric Boushie, just to name a few. These activists have taken major steps to force change in order to protect our oceans and climate. Despite having over 350 million immigrants, the majority of Canadian citizens speak two common, yet distinct, languages. One of them belongs to the European settlers and is commonly referred to as ‘British’. It is spoken in every region of Canada. Notable speakers include Sir Charles Attenborough, William Ernest Raymond, Elton John, Harry Belafonte, Mary Ellen Ellis Rosser and Richard Branson. Some 14% of Canada’s population speak Chinese at home and over 8% speak French. French is especially prevalent amongst young people and teenagers, while Chinese is seen as mostly predominant amongst adults and seniors, particularly young women and older men. Over 80% of Canadians can identify themselves as either white French or white German. Only 7% identify as black or African.ReligionChristianity is the biggest religion in Canada and its influence is widespread; over 80% of Canadians identify as Christian. Judaism (about 20%) follows closely behind religion in Canada, whereas Islam (about 9%) and Hinduism (over 2%) are extremely rare. With more than 150 denominations, Anglican Church of Canada is the largest religious denomination in Canada. As well as large churches and parishes around the country, a number of congregations and schools continue to operate within the church. Many non-denominational and evangelical churches exist in Canada, mainly run by individuals rather than churches. An estimated 23,000 churches and approximately 12,000 religious organizations exist in Canada, with some 5,800 active churches.The main four religions in Canada are:Christian: About 79.4%Islam: Between 2.5% and 11.3%Judaism (approximately 7%)Buddhism: Approximately 4.9%Unified Hebrew Congregations: About 13%Other smaller sects: about 3.7%For comparison, the world’s largest Muslim population is comprised of 30% of Muslims residing in the Middle East (including Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria and Pakistan), 30% of Muslims living in Africa (including Nigeria, Angola, Congo and Sudan), 19% of Muslim populations in Asia (including India, Bangladesh and Cambodia), 19% of Muslim communities in Europe or Central Asia and 16% of Muslim populations in Latin America (including Mexico, Dominican Republic and Panama). Only 0.2% of Islamic population is found in China, constituting less than 40,000 people.The majority of Jews in Canada are Roman Catholic. Over 95% identify as Roman Catholics. Around 65,000 Jews reside in cities and smaller communities, such as Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Peterborough, Toronto and Windsor.The Three Provincial AssociationsIn addition to the three provincial associations for each province and territory of Canada, two additional associations represent the regions of Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Yukon. Each association represents roughly 2,100,000 individuals living in Canada. Together, these three groups comprise nearly half of Canadian residents. Within these regional associations, there are approximately 10 sub-associations for each branch of Christianity:Alberta Association for Orthodox Christian Churches (AACOH) includes roughly 400 Orthodox and Russian churches across the province.Manitoba Association for Christian Churches (MACEC) is the largest association for traditional religious minorities in the Province.Saskatchewan Association for Christians (SACC) is the provincewide association that represents 15,000 churches, predominantly Evangelical Protestant churches, in British Columbia, Yukon and the Prairies. SACC exists alongside AACOH. MACEC was formed due to the lack of faith-based unity in British Columbia. SACC is currently represented in 27,000 churches and has a membership of almost 14,000 churches, representing a conservative estimate for its population size. Both AACOH and MACEC have several sub-associations, including Traditional Jewish Family Services and Young Men’s Christian Ministry.The Federal MembershipThe Canadian Government is represented in Parliament by an evenly proportioned chamber of Members elected by popular vote. Members serve eight-year terms and must seek re-election at the next general election (by popular vote). The size of the chamber is determined by proportional representation between each house of Congress, divided equally between genders. Members are represented by a Chief Administrative Lawyer. Parliament comprises two Houses of Commons and seven Senators