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Canada (Listeni/ˈkænədə/) is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean. Canada is the world’s second-largest country by total area, and its common border with the United States is the world’s longest land border.

The land that is now Canada has been inhabited for millennia by various Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French colonial expeditions explored, and later settled, the region’s Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America to Britain in 1763 after the Seven Years’ War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began anaccretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy, culminating in the Canada Act 1982.

Canada is a federal state governed as a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state. The country is officially bilingual at the federal level. As of 2011, it has a population of approximately 33.4 million. Canada’s economy is one of the world’s largest and is reliant upon its natural resources and trade, particularly with the United States with which it also has a long and complex relationship. Per capita income is the world’s ninth highest. It is a member of the G7, G8, G20, NATO, OECD, WTO, Commonwealth of Nations, Francophonie, OAS, APEC, and United Nations.


Main article: Name of Canada

The name Canada comes from the St. Lawrence Iroquoian word kanata, meaning “village” or “settlement”.[10] In 1535, indigenous inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the word to direct French explorer Jacques Cartier to the village of Stadacona.[11] Cartier later used the word Canada to refer not only to that particular village, but the entire area subject to Donnacona (the chief at Stadacona); by 1545, European books and maps had begun referring to this region asCanada.[11]

In the 17th and early 18th centuries, “Canada” referred to the part of New France that lay along the St. Lawrence River and the northern shores of the Great Lakes. The area was later split into two British colonies, Upper Canada and Lower Canada. They were reunified as the Province of Canada in 1841.[12]

Upon Confederation in 1867, Canada was adopted as the legal name for the new country, and the word Dominion was conferred as the country’s title.[13] However, as Canada asserted its political autonomy from the United Kingdom, the federal government increasingly used simply Canada on state documents and treaties, a change that was reflected in the renaming of the national holiday from Dominion Day to Canada Day in 1982.[14]


Main article: History of Canada

Further information: List of years in Canada

Aboriginal peoples

Archaeological studies and genetic analyses have indicated a human presence in the northern Yukon region from 24,500 BC, and in southern Ontario from 7500 BC.[15][16][17] The Paleo-Indian archaeological sites at Old Crow Flats and Bluefish Caves are two of the oldest sites of human habitation in Canada.[18][19][20] The characteristics of Canadian Aboriginal societies included permanent settlements, agriculture, complex societal hierarchies, and trading networks.[21][22] Some of these cultures had collapsed by the time European explorers arrived in the late 15th and early 16th centuries, and have only been discovered through archaeological investigations.[23]

The aboriginal population is estimated to have been between 200,000[24] and two million in the late 15th century,[25] with a figure of 500,000 accepted by Canada’s Royal Commission on Aboriginal Health.[26] As a consequence of the European colonization, Canada’s aboriginal peoples suffered from repeated outbreaks of newly introduced infectious diseases such as influenza, measles, and smallpox (to which they had no natural immunity), resulting in a forty- to eighty-percent population decrease in the centuries after the European arrival.[24] Aboriginal peoples in present-day Canada include the First Nations,[27] Inuit,[28] and Métis.[29] The Métis are a mixed-blood people who originated in the mid-17th century when First Nations and Inuit people married European settlers.[30] In general, the Inuit had more limited interaction with European settlers during the colonization period.[31]

European colonization

Benjamin West‘s The Death of General Wolfe (1771) dramatizes James Wolfe‘s death during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham at Quebec in 1759.

The first known attempt at European colonization began when Norsemen settled briefly at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around 1000 AD.[32] No further European exploration occurred until 1497, when Italian seafarer John Cabot explored Canada’s Atlantic coast for England.[33] Basque and Portuguese mariners established seasonal whaling and fishing outposts along the Atlantic coast in the early 16th century.[34] In 1534, French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence River, where on July 24 he planted a 10-metre (33 ft) cross bearing the words “Long Live the King of France”, and took possession of the territory in the name of King Francis I of France.[35]

In 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert claimed St. John’s, Newfoundland, as the first North American English colony by the royal prerogative of Queen Elizabeth I.[36] French explorer Samuel de Champlainarrived in 1603, and established the first permanent European settlements at Port Royal in 1605 and Quebec City in 1608. Among the French colonists of New France, Canadiens extensively settled the St. Lawrence River valley and Acadians settled the present-day Maritimes, while fur traders and Catholic missionaries explored the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and the Mississippi watershed toLouisiana. The Beaver Wars broke out in the mid-17th century over control of the North American fur trade.[37]

The English established additional colonies in Cupids and Ferryland, Newfoundland, beginning in 1610. The Thirteen Colonies to the south were founded soon after.[34] A series of four French and Indian Wars erupted between 1689 and 1763.[38] Mainland Nova Scotia came under British rule with the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht; the Treaty of Paris (1763) ceded Canada and most of New France to Britain after the Seven Years’ War.[39]

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 created the Province of Quebec out of New France, and annexed Cape Breton Island to Nova Scotia.[14] St. John’s Island (now Prince Edward Island) became a separate colony in 1769.[40] To avert conflict in Quebec, the British passed the Quebec Act of 1774, expanding Quebec’s territory to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. It re-established the French language, Catholic faith, and French civil law there. This angered many residents of the Thirteen Colonies, fuelling anti-British sentiment in the years prior to the 1775 outbreak of the American Revolution.[14]

The 1783 Treaty of Paris recognized American independence and ceded territories south of the Great Lakes to the United States. New Brunswick was split from Nova Scotia as part of a reorganization of Loyalist settlements in the Maritimes. To accommodate English-speaking Loyalists in Quebec, the Constitutional Act of 1791 divided the province into French-speaking Lower Canada (later Quebec) and English-speaking Upper Canada (later Ontario), granting each its own elected legislative assembly.[41]

Robert Harris‘s Fathers of Confederation(1884), an amalgamation of theCharlottetown and Quebec conferences of 1864.[42]

The Canadas were the main front in the War of 1812 between the United States and Britain. Following the war, large-scale immigration to Canada from Britain and Ireland began in 1815.[25] Between 1825 and 1846, 626,628 European immigrants reportedly landed at Canadian ports.[43] Between one-quarter and one-third of all Europeans who immigrated to Canada before 1891 died of infectious diseases.[24]

The desire for responsible government resulted in the abortive Rebellions of 1837. The Durham Report subsequently recommended responsible government and the assimilation of French Canadians into English culture.[14] The Act of Union 1840merged the Canadas into a united Province of Canada. Responsible government was established for all British North American provinces by 1849.[44] The signing of the Oregon Treaty by Britain and the United States in 1846 ended the Oregon boundary dispute, extending the border westward along the 49th parallel. This paved the way for British colonies on Vancouver Island (1849) and in British Columbia (1858).[45]

Confederation and expansion

refer to caption

An animated map showing the growth and change of Canada’s provinces and territories since Confederation in 1867.

Following several constitutional conferences, the 1867 Constitution Act officially proclaimed Canadian Confederation on July 1, 1867, initially with four provinces – Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick.[46][47][48] Canada assumed control of Rupert’s Land and the North-Western Territory to form the Northwest Territories, where the Métis’ grievances ignited the Red River Rebellion and the creation of the province of Manitoba in July 1870.[49] British Columbia and Vancouver Island (whichhad been united in 1866) joined the Confederation in 1871, while Prince Edward Island joined in 1873.[50] Prime Minister John A. Macdonald and his Conservative government established a National Policy of tariffs to protect the nascent Canadian manufacturing industries.[48]

To open the West, the government sponsored the construction of three transcontinental railways (including the Canadian Pacific Railway), opened the prairies to settlement with the Dominion Lands Act, and established the North-West Mounted Police to assert its authority over this territory.[51][52] In 1898, during the Klondike Gold Rush in the Northwest Territories, the Canadian government created the Yukon Territory. Under the Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, continental European immigrants settled the prairies, and Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905.[50]

Early 20th century

Group of armed soldiers march past a wrecked tank and a body

Canadian soldiers and a Mark II tank at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.

Because Britain still maintained control of Canada’s foreign affairs under the Confederation Act, its declaration of war in 1914 automatically brought Canada into World War I. Volunteers sent to the Western Front later became part of the Canadian Corps. The Corps played a substantial role in the Battle of Vimy Ridge and other major engagements of the war.[53] Out of approximately 625,000 Canadians who served in World War I, around 60,000 were killed and another 173,000 were wounded.[54] The Conscription Crisis of 1917 erupted when conservative Prime Minister Robert Borden brought in compulsory military service over the objections of French-speaking Québécois. In 1919, Canada joined the League of Nations independently of Britain,[53] and the 1931 Statute of Westminster affirmed Canada’s independence.[4]

The Great Depression of the early 1930s brought great economic hardship to Canada. In response to the downturn, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in Saskatchewan introduced many elements of a welfare state (as pioneered by Tommy Douglas) in the 1940s and 1950s.[55] Canada declared war on Germany independently during World War II under Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, three days after Britain. The first Canadian Army units arrived in Britain in December 1939.[53]

Canadian troops played important roles in many key battles of the war, including the failed 1942 Dieppe Raid, the Allied invasion of Italy, the Normandy landings, the Battle of Normandy, and the Battle of the Scheldt in 1944.[53] Canada provided asylum for the monarchy of the Netherlands while that country was occupied, and is credited by the Netherlands for major contributions to its liberation from Nazi Germany.[56] The Canadian economy boomed during the war as its industries manufactured military materiel for Canada, Britain, China, and the Soviet Union.[53] Despite another Conscription Crisis in Quebec, Canada finished the war with a large army and strong economy.[57]

Modern times

At Rideau Hall, Governor General the Viscount Alexander of Tunis (centre) receives the bill finalizing the union ofNewfoundland and Canada on March 31, 1949.

The Dominion of Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and Labrador) was unified with Canada in 1949.[58] Canada’s post-war economic growth, combined with the policies of successive Liberal governments, led to the emergence of a newCanadian identity, marked by the adoption of the current Maple Leaf Flag in 1965,[59] the implementation of official bilingualism (English and French) in 1969,[60] and the institution of official multiculturalism in 1971.[61] Socially democratic programs were also instituted, such as Medicare, the Canada Pension Plan, and Canada Student Loans, though provincial governments, particularly Quebec and Alberta, opposed many of these as incursions into their jurisdictions.[62] Finally, another series of constitutional conferences resulted in the 1982 patriation of Canada’s constitution from the United Kingdom, concurrent with the creation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[63] In 1999, Nunavut became Canada’s third territory after a series of negotiations with the federal government.[64]

At the same time, Quebec underwent profound social and economic changes through the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, giving birth to a modern nationalist movement. The radical Front de libération du Québec (FLQ) ignited the October Crisis in 1970,[65] and the sovereignist Parti Québécois was elected in 1976, organizing an unsuccessful referendum on sovereignty-association in 1980. Attempts to accommodate Quebec nationalism constitutionally through the Meech Lake Accord failed in 1990.[66] This led to the formation of the Bloc Québécois in Quebec and the invigoration of the Reform Party of Canada in the West.[67][68] A second referendum followed in 1995, in which sovereignty was rejected by a slimmer margin of just 50.6 to 49.4 percent. In 1997, the Supreme Court ruled that unilateral secession by a province would be unconstitutional, and the Clarity Act was passed by parliament, outlining the terms of a negotiated departure from Confederation.[66]

In addition to the issues of Quebec sovereignty, a number of crises shook Canadian society in the late 1980s and early 1990s. These included the explosion of Air India Flight 182 in 1985, the largest mass murder in Canadian history;[69] the École Polytechnique massacre in 1989, a university shooting targeting female students;[70] and the Oka Crisis of 1990,[71] the first of a number of violent confrontations between the government and Aboriginal groups.[72] Canada also joined the Gulf War in 1990 as part of a US-led coalition force, and was active in several peacekeeping missions in the late 1990s.[73] Canada sent troops to Afghanistan in 2001, but declined to send forces to Iraq when the US invaded in 2003.[74] In 2011, Canadian forces participated in the NATO-led intervention into the Libyan civil war.[75]


Main article: Geography of Canada

A satellite composite image of Canada. Boreal forests prevail on the rocky Canadian Shield, while ice and tundra are prominent in the Arctic. Glaciers are visible in the Canadian Rockies and Coast Mountains. The flat and fertile prairies facilitate agriculture. The Great Lakes feed the St. Lawrence River in the southeast, where lowlands host much of Canada’s population.

Canada occupies a major northern portion of North America, sharing land borders with the contiguous United States to the south and the US state of Alaska to the northwest. Canada stretches from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west; to the north lies the Arctic Ocean.[76][77] Greenland is to the northeast, while Saint Pierre and Miquelon is south of Newfoundland.

By total area (including its waters), Canada is the second-largest country in the world, after Russia. By land area alone, Canada ranks fourth.[77] The country lies between latitudes 41° and 84°N, and longitudes 52° and 141°W.

Since 1925, Canada has claimed the portion of the Arctic between 60° and 141°W longitude,[78] but this claim is not universally recognized. Canada is home to the world’s northernmost settlement, Canadian Forces Station Alert, on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island – latitude 82.5°N – which lies 817 kilometres (508 mi) from the North Pole.[79] Much of the Canadian Arctic is covered by ice and permafrost. Canada has the longest coastline in the world, with a total length of 202,080 kilometres (125,570 mi);[77] additionally, its border with the United States is the world’s longest land border, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi).[80]

A semi-circular waterfall between two outcrops of forest

The Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, is one of the world’s most voluminous waterfalls.[81]

Since the end of the last glacial period, Canada has consisted of eight distinct forest regions, including extensive boreal forest on the Canadian Shield.[82] Canada has around 31,700 large lakes,[83] more than any other country, containing much of the world’s fresh water.[84] There are also fresh-water glaciers in the Canadian Rockies and the Coast Mountains. Canada is geologically active, having many earthquakes and potentially active volcanoes, notably Mount Meager, Mount Garibaldi,Mount Cayley, and the Mount Edziza volcanic complex.[85] The volcanic eruption of the Tseax Cone in 1775 was among Canada’s worst natural disasters, killing 2,000 Nisga’a people and destroying their village in the Nass River valley of northern British Columbia. The eruption produced a 22.5-kilometre (14.0 mi) lava flow, and, according to Nisga’a legend, blocked the flow of the Nass River.[86]

Canada’s population density, at 3.3 inhabitants per square kilometre (8.5 /sq mi), is among the lowest in the world. The most densely populated part of the country is the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor, situated in Southern Quebec and Southern Ontario along the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River.[87]

Average winter and summer high temperatures across Canada vary from region to region. Winters can be harsh in many parts of the country, particularly in the interior and Prairie provinces, which experience a continental climate, where daily average temperatures are near −15 °C (5 °F), but can drop below −40 °C (−40 °F) with severe wind chills.[88] In noncoastal regions, snow can cover the ground for almost six months of the year, while in parts of the north snow can persist year-round. Coastal British Columbia has a temperate climate, with a mild and rainy winter. On the east and west coasts, average high temperatures are generally in the low 20s °C (70s °F), while between the coasts, the average summer high temperature ranges from 25 to 30 °C (77 to 86 °F), with temperatures in some interior locations occasionally exceeding 40 °C (104 °F).[89]

Government and politics

Main articles: Government of Canada and Politics of Canada

See also: Elections in Canada and List of political parties in Canada

A building with a central clocktower rising from a block

Parliament Hill in Canada’s capital city,Ottawa

Canada has a parliamentary system within the context of a constitutional monarchy, the monarchy of Canada being the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.[90][91][92][93] The sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II, who also serves as head of state of 15 other Commonwealth countries and each of Canada’s ten provinces and resides predominantly in the United Kingdom. As such, the Queen’s representative, the Governor General of Canada (presently David Lloyd Johnston), carries out most of the federal royal duties in Canada.[94][95]

The direct participation of the royal and viceroyal figures in areas of governance is limited;[92][96][97] in practice, their use of the executive powers is directed by the Cabinet, a committee of ministers of the Crown responsible to the elected House of Commons and chosen and headed by the Prime Minister of Canada (presently Stephen Harper),[98] the head of government, though the governor general or monarch may in certain crisis situations exercise their power without ministerial advice.[96]To ensure the stability of government, the governor general will usually appoint as prime minister the person who is the current leader of the political party that can obtain the confidence of a plurality in the House of Commons.[99] The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is thus one of the most powerful institutions in government, initiating most legislation for parliamentary approval and selecting for appointment by the Crown, besides the aforementioned, the governor general, lieutenant governors, senators, federal court judges, and heads of Crown corporations and government agencies.[96] The leader of the party with the second-most seats usually becomes the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition (presently Thomas Mulcair) and is part of an adversarial parliamentary system intended to keep the government in check.[100]

The Senate chamber within the Centre Block on Parliament Hill

Each of the 308 Members of Parliament in the House of Commons is elected by simple plurality in an electoral district or riding. General elections must be called by the governor general, on the advice of the prime minister, within four years of the previous election, or may be triggered by the government losing a confidence vote in the House.[101] The 105 members of the Senate, whose seats are apportioned on a regional basis, serve until age 75.[102] Five parties had representatives elected to the federal parliament in the 2011 elections: the Conservative Party of Canada (governing party), the New Democratic Party (the Official Opposition), the Liberal Party of Canada, the Bloc Québécois, and the Green Party of Canada. The list of historical parties with elected representation is substantial.

Canada’s federal structure divides government responsibilities between the federal government and the ten provinces. Provincial legislatures are unicameral and operate in parliamentary fashion similar to the House of Commons.[97] Canada’s three territories also have legislatures, but these are not sovereign and have fewer constitutional responsibilities than the provinces.[103] The territorial legislatures also differ structurally from their provincial counterparts.[104]


Main articles: Law of Canada and Court system of Canada

The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law of the country, and consists of written text and unwritten conventions. The Constitution Act, 1867 (known as the British North America Act prior to 1982) affirmed governance based on parliamentary precedent and divided powers between the federal and provincial governments; the Statute of Westminster 1931 granted full autonomy; and the Constitution Act, 1982, ended all legislative ties to the UK, added a constitutional amending formula, and added the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees basic rights and freedoms that usually cannot be overridden by any government – though a notwithstanding clause allows the federal parliament and provincial legislatures to override certain sections of the Charter for a period of five years.[105]

Two sides of a silver medal: the profile of Queen Victoria and the inscription "Victoria Regina" on one side, a man in European garb shaking hands with an Aboriginal with the inscription "Indian Treaty 187" on the other

The Indian Chiefs Medal, presented to commemorate the Numbered Treaties

Although not without conflict, European Canadians‘ early interactions with First Nations and Inuit populations were relatively peaceful. The Crown and Aboriginal peoples began interactions during the European colonialization period. Numbered Treaties, the Indian Act, the Constitution Act of 1982, and case laws were established.[106] A series of eleven treaties were signed between Aboriginals in Canada and the reigning Monarch of Canada from 1871 to 1921.[107] These treaties are agreements with the Government of Canada administered by Canadian Aboriginal law and overseen by the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. The role of the treaties was reaffirmed by Section Thirty-five of the Constitution Act, 1982, which “recognizes and affirms existing Aboriginal and treaty rights”.[106] These rights may include provision of services such as health care, and exemption from taxation.[108] The legal and policy framework within which Canada and First Nations operate was further formalized in 2005, through the First Nations–Federal Crown Political Accord.[106]

The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, west of Parliament Hill

Canada’s judiciary plays an important role in interpreting laws and has the power to strike down laws that violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court and final arbiter and has been led by the Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, P.C. (the first female Chief Justice) since 2000.[109] Its nine members are appointed by the governor general on the advice of the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice. All judges at the superior and appellate levels are appointed after consultation with nongovernmental legal bodies. The federal cabinet also appoints justices to superior courts at the provincial and territorial levels.[110]

Common law prevails everywhere except in Quebec, where civil law predominates. Criminal law is solely a federal responsibility and is uniform throughout Canada.[111] Law enforcement, including criminal courts, is officially a provincial responsibility, conducted by provincial police forces.[112] However, in most rural areas and some urban areas, policing responsibilities are contracted to the federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police.[113]

Foreign relations and military

Main articles: Foreign relations of Canada and Military history of Canada

Prime Minister Stephen Harper meeting President of the United States Barack Obama in 2009

Canada currently employs a professional, volunteer military force of over 67,000 regular personnel and approximately 43,000 reserve personnel, including supplementary reserves.[114] The unified Canadian Forces (CF) comprise the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force. In 2011, Canada’s military expenditure totalled approximately C$24.5 billion.[115]

Canada and the United States share the world’s longest undefended border, co-operate on military campaigns and exercises, and are each other’s largest trading partner.[116] Canada nevertheless has an independent foreign policy, most notably maintaining full relations with Cuba and declining to officially participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Canada also maintains historic ties to the United Kingdom and France and to other former British and French colonies through Canada’s membership in the Commonwealth of Nations and the Francophonie.[117] Canada is noted for having a positive relationship with the Netherlands, owing, in part, to its contribution to the Dutch liberation during World War II.[56]

Canada’s strong attachment to the British Empire and Commonwealth led to major participation in British military efforts in the Second Boer War, World War I and World War II. Since then, Canada has been an advocate for multilateralism, making efforts to resolve global issues in collaboration with other nations.[118][119] Canada was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 and of NATO in 1949. During the Cold War, Canada was a major contributor to UN forces in the Korean Warand founded the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in cooperation with the United States to defend against potential aerial attacks from the Soviet Union.[120]

Canadian Army soldiers from the Royal 22nd Regiment deploying during UNITASexercises in April 2009

During the Suez Crisis of 1956, future Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson eased tensions by proposing the inception of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force, for which he was awarded the 1957 Nobel Peace Prize.[121] As this was the first UN peacekeeping mission, Pearson is often credited as the inventor of the concept. Canada has since served in 50 peacekeeping missions, including every UN peacekeeping effort until 1989,[53] and has since maintained forces in international missions in Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, and elsewhere; Canada has sometimes faced controversy over its involvement in foreign countries, notably in the 1993Somalia Affair.[122]

Canada joined the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1990 and hosted the OAS General Assembly in Windsor, Ontario, in June 2000 and the third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in April 2001.[123] Canada seeks to expand its ties to Pacific Rim economies through membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).[124]

The Halifax-class frigate HMCS Regina, a warship of the Royal Canadian Navy, during the 2004 RIMPAC exercises

In 2001, Canada deployed troops to Afghanistan as part of the US stabilization force and the UN-authorized, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. Starting in July 2011, Canada began withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan. In all, Canada lost 158 soldiers, one diplomat, two aid workers, and one journalist during the mission,[125] which cost approximately C$11.3 billion.[126]

In February 2007, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, Norway, and Russia announced their joint commitment to a $1.5-billion project to help develop vaccines for developing nations, and called on other countries to join them.[127] In August 2007, Canada’s territorial claims in the Arctic were challenged after a Russian underwater expedition to the North Pole; Canada has considered that area to be sovereign territory since 1925.[128] In July 2010, the federal government announced the largest purchase in Canadian military history – the acquisition of 65 F-35 Lightning II jet fighters, totalling C$9 billion.[129]Between March and October 2011, Canadian forces participated in a UN-mandated NATO intervention into the 2011 Libyan civil war.[130]

Provinces and territories

Main article: Provinces and territories of Canada

See also: Canadian federalism

Canada is a federation composed of ten provinces and three territories. In turn, these may be grouped into four main regions: Western Canada, Central Canada, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Canada (“Eastern Canada” refers to Central Canada and Atlantic Canada together). Provinces have more autonomy than territories, having responsibility for social programs such as health care, education, and welfare. Together, the provinces collect more revenue than the federal government, an almost unique structure among federations in the world. Using its spending powers, the federal government can initiate national policies in provincial areas, such as the Canada Health Act; the provinces can opt out of these, but rarely do so in practice. Equalization payments are made by the federal government to ensure that reasonably uniform standards of services and taxation are kept between the richer and poorer provinces.[131]

A clickable map of Canada exhibiting its ten provinces and three territories, and their capitals.

A clickable map of Canada exhibiting its ten provinces and three territories, and their capitals.

About this image


Main article: Economy of Canada

Representatives of the governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States sign the North American Free Trade Agreement(NAFTA) in 1992.

Canada is the world’s eleventh-largest economy, with a 2011 nominal GDP of approximately US$1.74 trillion.[7] It is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the G8, and is one of the world’s top ten trading nations, with a highly globalized economy.[132][133] Canada is a mixed economy, ranking above the US and most western European nations on the Heritage Foundation‘s index of economic freedom.[134] In 2008, Canada’s imported goods were worth over $442.9 billion, of which $280.8 billion originated from the United States, $11.7 billion from Japan, and $11.3 billion from the United Kingdom.[135] The country’s 2009 trade deficit totaled C$4.8 billion, compared with a C$46.9 billion surplus in 2008.[136]

In the past century, the growth of Canada’s manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy to an urbanized, industrial one. Like many other First World nations, the Canadian economy is dominated by the service industry, which employs about three-quarters of the country’s workforce.[137] However, Canada is unusual among developed countries in the importance of its primary sector, in which the logging and petroleum industries are two of the most prominent components.[138]

Canada is one of the few developed nations that are net exporters of energy.[139] Atlantic Canada possesses vast offshore deposits of natural gas, and Alberta also hosts large oil and gas resources. The immense Athabasca oil sands give Canada the world’s second-largest proven oil reserves, after Saudi Arabia.[140] Canada is additionally one of the world’s largest suppliers of agricultural products; the Canadian Prairies are one of the most important global producers of wheat, canola, and other grains.[141] Canada is a major producer of zinc and uranium, and is a leading exporter of many other minerals, such as gold, nickel, aluminum, and lead.[139][142] Many towns in northern Canada, where agriculture is difficult, are sustainable because of nearby mines or sources of timber. Canada also has a sizable manufacturing sector centred in southern Ontario and Quebec, with automobiles and aeronautics representing particularly important industries.[143]

Canada’s economic integration with the United States has increased significantly since World War II. The Automotive Products Trade Agreement of 1965 opened Canada’s borders to trade in the automobile manufacturing industry. In the 1970s, concerns over energy self-sufficiency and foreign ownership in the manufacturing sectors prompted Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau‘s Liberal government to enact the National Energy Program (NEP) and the Foreign Investment Review Agency (FIRA).[144] In the 1980s, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney‘s Progressive Conservatives abolished the NEP and changed the name of FIRA to “Investment Canada“, in order to encourage foreign investment.[145] The Canada – United States Free Trade Agreement (FTA) of 1988 eliminated tariffs between the two countries, while the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) expanded the free-trade zone to include Mexico in 1994.[141] In the mid-1990s, Jean Chrétien‘s Liberal government began to post annual budgetary surpluses, and steadily paid down the national debt.[146]

The global financial crisis of 2008 caused a major recession, which led to a significant rise in unemployment in Canada.[147] By October 2009, Canada’s national unemployment rate reached 8.6 percent, with provincial unemployment rates varying from a low of 5.8 percent in Manitoba to a high of 17 percent in Newfoundland and Labrador.[148] Between October 2008 and October 2010, the Canadian labour market lost 162,000 full-time jobs and a total of 224,000 permanent jobs.[149] Canada’s federal debt was estimated to total $566.7 billion for the fiscal year 2010–11, up from $463.7 billion in 2008–09.[150] Canada’s net foreign debt rose by $41 billion to $194 billion in the first quarter of 2010.[151]

Science and technology

Main article: Science and technology in Canada

A shuttle in space, with Earth in the background. A mechanical arm labeled "Canada" rises from the shuttle

The Canadarm robotic manipulator in action on Space Shuttle Discovery during the STS-116 mission in 2006.

In 2011, Canada spent approximately C$29.9 billion on domestic research and development.[152] The country has produced ten Nobel laureates in physics, chemistry and medicine,[153] and is home to a number of global technology firms, such assmartphone maker Research In Motion and video games developer BioWare.[154] Canada ranks twelfth in the world for Internet users as a proportion of the population, with over 28 million users, equivalent to around 84 percent of its total 2011 population.[155]

The Canadian Space Agency operates a highly active space program, conducting deep-space, planetary, and aviation research, and developing rockets and satellites. In 1984, Marc Garneau became Canada’s first astronaut. As of 2012, nine Canadians have flown into space, over the course of fifteen manned missions.[156] Canada is a participant in the International Space Station (ISS), and is a pioneer in space robotics, having constructed the Canadarm, Canadarm2 and Dextre robotic manipulators for the ISS and NASA. Since the 1960s, Canada’s aerospace industry has designed and built numerous marques of satellite, including Radarsat-1 and 2, ISIS and MOST.[157] Canada has also produced a successful and widely usedsounding rocket, the Black Brant; over 1,000 Black Brants have been launched since the rocket’s introduction in 1961.[158]


Main articles: Demographics of Canada and Population of Canada by year

See also: Ethnic origins of people in Canada

canada population 2

Source: Statistics Canada[6][159]

The 2011 Canadian census counted a total population of 33,476,688, an increase of around 5.9 percent over the 2006 figure.[6][160] Between 1990 and 2008, the population increased by 5.6 million, equivalent to 20.4 percent overall growth. The main drivers of population growth are immigration and, to a lesser extent, natural growth. About four-fifths of the population lives within 150 kilometres (93 mi) of the United States border.[161] Approximately 80 percent of Canadians live in urban areas concentrated in the Quebec City – Windsor Corridor, the BC Lower Mainland, and the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor in Alberta.[162] In common with many other developed countries, Canada is experiencing a demographic shift towards an older population, with more retirees and fewer people of working age. In 2006, the average age was 39.5 years;[163] by 2011, it had risen to approximately 39.9 years.[164]

According to the 2006 census, the country’s largest self-reported ethnic origin is Canadian (accounting for 32% of the population), followed by English (21%), French (15.8%), Scottish (15.1%), Irish (13.9%), German (10.2%), Italian (4.6%), Chinese (4.3%),First Nations (4.0%), Ukrainian (3.9%), and Dutch (3.3%).[165] There are 600 recognized First Nations governments or bands, encompassing a total of 1,172,790 people.[166]

Canada’s aboriginal population is growing at almost twice the national rate, and four percent of Canada’s population claimed aboriginal identity in 2006. Another 16.2 percent of the population belonged to a non-aboriginal visible minority.[167] The largest visible minority groups are South Asian (4.0%), Chinese (3.9%) and Black (2.5%). Between 2001 and 2006, the visible minority population rose by 27.2 percent.[168] In 1961, less than two percent of Canada’s population (about 300,000 people) could be classified as belonging to a visible minority group, and less than one percent as aboriginal.[169] By 2007, almost one in five (19.8%) were foreign-born, with nearly 60 percent of new immigrants coming from Asia (including the Middle East).[170] The leading sources of immigrants to Canada were China, the Philippines and India.[171] According to Statistics Canada, visible minority groups could account for a third of the Canadian population by 2031.[172]

Canada has one of the highest per-capita immigration rates in the world,[173] driven by economic policy and family reunification, and is aiming for between 240,000 and 265,000 new permanent residents in 2012,[174] a similar number of immigrants as in recent years.[175] In 2010, a record 280,636 people immigrated to Canada.[176] New immigrants settle mostly in major urban areas like Toronto and Vancouver.[177] Canada also accepts large numbers of refugees.[178] The country resettles over one in 10 of the world’s refugees.[179]

According to the 2001 census, 77.1 percent of Canadians identify as Christian; of this, Catholics make up the largest group, accounting for 43.6 percent of the population. The largest Protestant denomination is the United Church of Canada (accounting for 9.5% of Canadians), followed by Anglicans (6.8%), Baptists (2.4%), Lutherans (2%), and other Christian denominations (4.4%). About 16.5 percent declare no religious affiliation, and the remaining 6.3 percent are affiliated with non-Christian religions, the largest of which are Islam (2.0%) and Judaism (1.1%).[180]

Canadian provinces and territories are responsible for education. The mandatory school age ranges between 5–7 to 16–18 years,[181] contributing to an adult literacy rate of 99 percent.[77] In 2002, 43 percent of Canadians aged 25 to 64 possessed a post-secondary education; for those aged 25 to 34, the rate of post-secondary education reached 51 percent.[182] The Programme for International Student Assessment indicates that Canadian students perform well above the OECD average, particularly in mathematics, sciences, and reading.[183]

Largest metropolitan areas in Canada by population (2011 Census)

canada population


Main articles: Languages of Canada and List of endangered languages in Canada

Map of Canada showing distribution of English-speaking, French-speaking and bilingual residents

In 2006, about 17.4 percent of the population were reportedly bilingual.

English – 57.8%

English and French (Bilingual) – 17.4%

French – 22.1%

Sparsely populated area (<0.4 persons per km2)

Canada’s two official languages are Canadian English and Canadian French. Official bilingualism is defined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Official Languages Act, and Official Language Regulations; it is applied by theCommissioner of Official Languages. English and French have equal status in federal courts, Parliament, and in all federal institutions. Citizens have the right, where there is sufficient demand, to receive federal government services in either English or French, and official-language minorities are guaranteed their own schools in all provinces and territories.[184]

English and French are the first languages of 59.7 and 23.2 percent of the population respectively. Approximately 98 percent of Canadians speak English or French: 57.8 percent speak English only, 22.1 percent speak French only, and 17.4 percent speak both.[185] The English and French official-language communities, defined by the first official language spoken, constitute 73.0 and 23.6 percent of the population respectively.[186]

The 1977 Charter of the French Language established French as the official language of Quebec.[187] Although more than 85 percent of French-speaking Canadians live in Quebec, there are substantial Francophone populations in Ontario, Alberta, and southern Manitoba; Ontario has the largest French-speaking population outside Quebec.[188] New Brunswick, the only officially bilingual province, has a French-speaking Acadian minority constituting 33 percent of the population. There are also clusters of Acadians in southwestern Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton Island, and through central and western Prince Edward Island.[189]

Other provinces have no official languages as such, but French is used as a language of instruction, in courts, and for other government services, in addition to English. Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec allow for both English and French to be spoken in the provincial legislatures, and laws are enacted in both languages. In Ontario, French has some legal status, but is not fully co-official.[190] There are 11 Aboriginal language groups, composed of more than 65 distinct dialects.[191] Of these, only the Cree, Inuktitut and Ojibway languages have a large enough population of fluent speakers to be considered viable to survive in the long term.[192] Several aboriginal languages have official status in the Northwest Territories.[193] Inuktitut is the majority language in Nunavut, and is one of three official languages in the territory.[194]

In 2005, over six million people in Canada listed a non-official language as their mother tongue. Some of the most common non-official first languages include Chinese (mainly Cantonese; 1,012,065 first-language speakers), Italian (455,040), German (450,570), Punjabi (367,505) and Spanish (345,345).[195] English and French are the most-spoken home languages, being spoken at home by 68.3 and 22.3 percent of the population respectively.[196]


Main article: Culture of Canada

See also: Canadian art, Music of Canada, Sports in Canada, and National symbols of Canada

Bill Reid‘s 1980 sculpture Raven and The First Men. The Raven is a figure common to many of Canada’s Aboriginal mythologies.

Canada’s culture draws influences from its broad range of constituent nationalities, and policies that promote multiculturalism are constitutionally protected.[197] In Quebec, cultural identity is strong, and many French-speaking commentators speak of a culture of Quebec that is distinct from English Canadian culture.[198] However, as a whole, Canada is in theory a cultural mosaic – a collection of several regional, aboriginal, and ethnic subcultures.[199] Government policies such as publicly funded health care, higher taxation to redistribute wealth, the outlawing of capital punishment, strong efforts to eliminate poverty, an emphasis on multiculturalism, strict gun control, and the legalization of same-sex marriage are further social indicators of Canada’s political and cultural values.[200]

Historically, Canada has been influenced by British, French, and aboriginal cultures and traditions. Through their language, art and music, aboriginal peoples continue to influence the Canadian identity.[201] Many Canadians value multiculturalism and see Canada as being inherently multicultural.[63] American media and entertainment are popular, if not dominant, in English Canada; conversely, many Canadian cultural products and entertainers are successful in the United States and worldwide.[202] The preservation of a distinctly Canadian culture is supported by federal government programs, laws, and institutions such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the National Film Board of Canada, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.[203]

Oil on canvas painting of a tree dominating its rocky landscape during a sunset.

The Jack Pine by Tom Thomson. Oil on canvas, 1916, in the collection of theNational Gallery of Canada.

Canadian visual art has been dominated by figures such as Tom Thomson – the country’s most famous painter – and by the Group of Seven. Thomson’s career painting Canadian landscapes spanned a decade up to his death in 1917 at age 39.[204] The Group were painters with a nationalistic and idealistic focus, who first exhibited their distinctive works in May 1920. Though referred to as having seven members, five artists – Lawren Harris, A. Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, J. E. H. MacDonald, and Frederick Varley – were responsible for articulating the Group’s ideas. They were joined briefly by Frank Johnston, and by commercial artist Franklin Carmichael. A. J. Casson became part of the Group in 1926.[205] Associated with the Group was another prominent Canadian artist, Emily Carr, known for her landscapes and portrayals of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.[206]

The Canadian music industry has produced internationally renowned composers, musicians and ensembles.[207] Music broadcasting in the country is regulated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). TheCanadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presents Canada’s music industry awards, the Juno Awards, which were first awarded in 1970.[208] The national anthem of Canada O Canada adopted in 1980, was originally commissioned by theLieutenant Governor of Quebec, the Honourable Théodore Robitaille, for the 1880 St. Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony.[209] Calixa Lavallée wrote the music, which was a setting of a patriotic poem composed by the poet and judge Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The text was originally only in French, before it was translated to English in 1906.[210]

Hockey players and fans celebrating

A scene at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, seconds after Team Canadawon a gold medal in men’s ice hockey.

Canada’s official national sports are ice hockey and lacrosse.[211] Seven of Canada’s eight largest metropolitan areas – Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg – have franchises in the National Hockey League (NHL). Other popular spectator sports include curling and football; the latter is played professionally in the Canadian Football League (CFL). Golf, baseball, skiing, soccer, cricket, volleyball, rugby league and basketball are widely played at youth and amateur levels, but professional leagues and franchises are not widespread.[212] Canada has hosted several high-profile international sporting events, including the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, the 1994 Basketball World Championship and the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Canada was the host nation for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia.[213]

Canada’s national symbols are influenced by natural, historical, and Aboriginal sources. The use of the maple leaf as a Canadian symbol dates to the early 18th century. The maple leaf is depicted on Canada’s current and previous flags, on thepenny, and on the Arms of Canada.[214] Other prominent symbols include the beaver, Canada Goose, Common Loon, the Crown, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,[214] and more recently, the totem pole and Inuksuk.[215]

Top self-identified religious affiliations as of 2001.[86]


Main article: Religion in Canada

Canada as a nation is religiously diverse, encompassing a wide range of groups, beliefs and customs.[80] The preamble to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms references “God”, and the monarchcarries the title of “Defender of the Faith“.[81] However Canada has no official religion and support for religious pluralism (Freedom of religion in Canada) is an important part of Canada’s political culture.[82][83]With Christianity on the decline, having once been central and integral to Canadian culture and daily life;[84] it has been recently suggested that Canada has come to enter a post-Christian period in a secularstate, where the practice of religion has “moved to the margins of public life”, with irreligion in Canada on the rise.[85]

The 2001 Canadian census reported that 77.1% of Canadians identify as being Christians; of this, Catholics make up the largest group (43.6%).[87][88] The largest Protestant denomination is the United Church of Canada (9.5%), followed by the Anglicans (6.8%), Baptists (2.4%),Lutherans (2%), and other Christians (4.4%).[88] About 16.5% of Canadians declare no religious affiliation, including agnostics, atheists, humanists, and other groups. The remaining 6.3% are affiliated with non-Christian religions, the largest of which is Islam (2.0%), followed by Judaism(1.1%).[87][88]

Before the arrival of European colonists and explorers, First Nations followed a wide array of mostly animistic religions.[89] During the colonial period, the French settled along the shores of the Saint Lawrence River, specifically Latin rite Roman Catholics, including a number of Jesuitsdedicated to converting Aboriginals; an effort that eventually proved successful.[90] The first large Protestant communities were formed in theMaritimes after the British conquest of New France, followed by American Protestant settlers displaced by the American Revolution.[91] The late nineteenth century saw the beginning of a large shift in Canadian immigration patterns. Large numbers of Irish and Southern Europeans immigrants were creating new Roman Catholic communities in English Canada.[92] The settlement of the west brought significant Eastern Orthodox immigrants from Eastern Europe and Mormon and Pentecostal immigrants from the United States.[93]

The earliest documentation of Jewish presence in Canada are the 1754 British Army records from the French and Indian War.[94] In 1760, GeneralJeffrey Amherst, 1st Baron Amherst attacked and won Montreal for the British. In his regiment there were several Jews, including four among his officer corps, most notably Lieutenant Aaron Hart who is considered the father of Canadian Jewry.[94] The Islamic, Sikhism and Buddhismcommunities although small, are as old as the nation itself. The 1871 Canadian Census (first “Canadian” national census) indicated thirteen Muslims among the populace,[95] with approximately 5000 Sikh by 1908.[96] The first Canadian mosque was constructed in Edmonton in 1938, when there were approximately 700 Muslims in Canada.[97] Buddhism first arrived in Canada when Japanese immigrated during the late 19th century.[98] The first Japanese Buddhist temple in Canada was built in Vancouver in 1905.[99] The influx of immigrants in the late 20th century with Sri Lankan, Japanese, Indian and Southeast Asian customs, has contributed to the recent expansion of the Sikhism and Buddhist communities.[100]


canada wiki 5

canada wiki 4

Canadians (singular Canadian; French: Canadiens) are the people who are identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be genetic, residential, legal, historical, cultural or ethnic. For most Canadians, several (frequently all) of those types of connections exist and are the source(s) of them being considered Canadians.

Aside from the Aboriginal peoples, who according to the 2006 Canadian Census numbered 1,172,790, 3.8% of the country’s total population,[4] the majority of the population is made up of Old World immigrants and their descendants. After the initial period of French and then British colonization, different waves (or peaks) of immigration and settlement of non-aboriginal peoples took place over the course of nearly two centuries and continues today. Elements of Aboriginal, French, British and more recent immigrant customs, languages and religions have combined to form the culture of Canada and thus a Canadian identity. Canada has also been strongly influenced by that of its linguistic, geographic and economic neighbour, the United States.

Canadian independence grew gradually over the course of many years since the formation of the Canadian Confederation in 1867. World War I and World War II in particular gave rise to a desire amongst Canadians to have their country recognized as a fully-fledged sovereign state with a distinct citizenship. Legislative independence was established with the passage of the Statute of Westminster 1931, the Canadian Citizenship Act of 1946 took effect on January 1, 1947, and full sovereignty was achieved with the patriation of the constitution in 1982. Canada’s nationality law closely mirrored that of theUnited Kingdom. Legislation since the mid 20th century represents Canadians’ commitment to multilateralism and socioeconomic development.


See also: Population of Canada by year

Canadians make up 0.5% of the world’s total population,2010[5] having relied upon immigration for population growth and social development.[6]Approximately 41% of current Canadians are first or second generation immigrants,[7] meaning two out of every five Canadians currently living in Canada were not born in the country.[8] Statistics Canada projects that, by 2031, nearly one-half of Canadians above the age of 15 will be foreign-born or have one foreign-born parent.[9]


Main article: immigration to Canada

The French originally settled New France in present-day Quebec and Ontario, during the early part of the 17th century.[10] Approximately 100 Irish-born families would settle the Saint Lawrence Valley by 1700, assimilating into the Canadien population and culture.[11][12] The French also settled the Acadian peninsula alongside a smaller number of other European merchants, who collectively became the Acadians.[13] During the 18th and 19th century; immigration westward (to the area known as Rupert’s Land) was carried out by French settlers (Coureur des bois) working for the North West Company, and by British (English and Scottish) settlers representing the Hudson’s Bay Company.[14] This led to the creation of the Métis, an ethnic group of mixed European and First Nations parentage.[15]

The British conquest of New France was proceeded by small number of Germans and Swedes who settled alongside the Scottish in Port Royal, Nova Scotia, while some Irish immigrated to the Colony of Newfoundland.[16] In the wake of the 1775 invasion of Canada by the newly-formed Continental Armyduring the American Revolutionary War, approximately 60,000 United Empire Loyalist fled to British North America, a large portion of whom migrated toNew Brunswick.[17] After the War of 1812, British (included British army regulars), Scottish and Irish immigration was encouraged throughout Rupert’s Land, Upper Canada and Lower Canada.[18]

Between 1815 and 1850 some 800,000 immigrants came to the colonies of British North America, mainly from the British Isles as part of the great migration of Canada.[19] These included some Gaelic-speaking Highland Scots displaced by the Highland Clearances to Nova Scotia.[20] The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s significantly increased the pace of Irish immigration to Prince Edward Island and the Province of Canada, with over 35,000 distressed individuals landing in Toronto in 1847 and 1848.[21][22] Beginning in late 1850s, Chinese immigrants into the Colony of Vancouver Island and Colony of British Columbia peaked with the onset of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush.[23] The Chinese Immigration Act of 1885 eventually placed a head tax on all Chinese immigrants, in hopes of discouraging Chinese immigration after completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway.[24]

The population of Canada has consistently risen, doubling approximately every 40 years, since the establishment of the Canadian Confederation in 1867.[25] From the mid to late 19th century Canada had a policy of assisting immigrants from Europe, including an estimated 100,000 unwanted “Home Children” from Britain.[26] Block settlement communities were established throughout western Canada between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some were planned and other were spontaneously created by the settlers themselves.[27] Canada was now receiving a large amount of European immigrants predominately Italians, Germans, Scandinavians,Dutch and Ukrainians.[28]

100,000 +

50,000 – 99,999

20,000 – 49,999

10,000 – 19,999

Legislative restrictions on immigration (such as the Continuous journey regulation and Chinese Immigration Act) that had favoured British and other European immigrants were amended in the 1960s, opening the doors to immigrants from all parts of the world.[29]While the 1950s had still seen high levels of immigration by Europeans, by the 1970s immigrants increasingly were Chinese, Indian,Vietnamese, Jamaican and Haitian.[30] During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Canada received many American Vietnam War draft dissenters.[31] Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s Canada’s growing Pacific trade brought with it a large influx of South Asians, that tended to settle in British Columbia.[32]

In 2009, Canada received 252,179 “permanent residents” – the top ten source countries were China (29,049), the Philippines (27,277),India (26,122), the United States (9,723), the United Kingdom (9,566), France (7,300), Pakistan (6,214), Iran (6,065), South Korea(5,864), and Morocco (5,222).[33] These countries were followed closely by Algeria (4,785), United Arab Emirates (4,640), and Iraq(4,567) with Sri Lanka, Colombia, and Germany each contributing over 4,000 individuals.[33] Immigrants of all backgrounds tend to settle in the major urban centres.[34][35]

The majority of illegal immigrants come from the southern provinces of the People’s Republic of China, with Asia as a whole, Eastern Europe, Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East all contributing to the illegal population.[36] Estimates of illegal immigrants range between 35,000 and 120,000.[37] A 2008 report by the Auditor General of Canada Sheila Fraser, stated that Canada has lost track of approximately 41,000 illegal immigrants whose visas have expired.[38]


Main article: Canadian nationality law

Members of the first official Canadian Citizenship ceremony held at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa,
3 January 1947

Canadian citizenship is typically obtained by birth in Canada, birth abroad when at least one parent is a Canadian citizen and was born in Canada, or by adoption abroad by at least one Canadian citizen.[39] It can also be granted to a permanent resident who lives in Canada for three out of four years and meets specific requirements.[39] Canada established its own nationality law in 1946 with the enactment of the Canadian Citizenship Act, which took effect on January 1, 1947.[40]The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, was passed by the Parliament of Canada in 2001 as Bill C-11, which replaced the Immigration Act of 1976 as the primary federal legislation regulating immigration.[41] Prior to the conferring of legal status on Canadian citizenship, Canada’s naturalization laws consisted of a multitude of Acts beginning with the Immigration Act of 1910.[42]

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada there are three main classifications for immigrants: Family class (closely related persons of Canadian residents),Economic class (admitted on the basis of a point system that account for age, health and labour-market skills required for cost effectively inducting the immigrants into Canada’s labour market) and Refugee class (those seeking protection by applying to remain in the country by way of the Canadian immigration and refugee law).[43] In 2008, there were 65,567 immigrants in the family class, 21,860 refugees, and 149,072 economic immigrants amongst the 247,243 total immigrants to the country.[7] Canada resettles over one in 10 of the world’s refugees[44] and has one of the highest per-capita immigration rates in the world.[45]

The majority of Canadian citizens live in Canada; however, there are approximately 2,800,000 Canadians abroad as of November 1, 2009.[46] This represents about 7.5% of the total Canadian population. Of those abroad the United States, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Taiwan, China, and Lebanon have the largest Canadian diaspora. Canadians in United States are the greatest single expatriate community at over 1 million in 2009, representing 35.8% of all Canadians abroad.[47] Under current Canadian law, Canada does not restrict dual citizenship but Passport Canada encourages its citizens to travel abroad on their Canadian passport, so they can access Canadian consular services.[48]

[edit]Ethnic ancestry

Main article: Ethnic origins of people in Canada

Canada has 34 ethnic groups with at least 100,000 members each, of which 11 have over 1 million people and numerous others are represented in smaller amounts.[Note 2] According to the 2006 census, the largest self-reported ethnic origin is Canadian/Canadien (32%),[Note 3] followed by English (21%), French (15.8%), Scottish (15.1%), Irish (13.9%), German (10.2%), Italian (4.6%), Chinese (4.3%), North American Indian (4.0%),[Note 4] Ukrainian (3.9%), and Dutch (Netherlands) (3.3%).[49] In the 2006 census, over five million Canadians identified themselves as a member of a visible minority. Together, they make up 16.2% of the total population: most numerous among these are South Asian (4.0%), Black (2.5%), and Filipino (1.1%).[49] Aboriginal peoples are not considered a visible minority under theEmployment Equity Act,[50] and is the definition that Statistics Canada also uses.


Map of the dominant self-identified ethnic origins of ancestors per census division of 2006.[Note 2]

canada wiki 3


Main article: Culture of Canada

A 1911 political cartoon on Canada’s bicultural identity showing a flag combining symbols of Britain, France and Canada; titled “The next favor. ‘A flag to suit the minority.'”

Canada’s culture, like that of most any country in the world, is a product of its language(s), religion(s), political and legal system(s). Being a settler nation, Canada has been shaped by waves of migration that have combined to form a unique blend of art, cuisine, literature, humour and music.[51] Today, Canada has a diverse makeup of nationalities and constitutional protection for policies that promote multiculturalism rather than cultural assimilation or a single national myth.[52] In Quebec, cultural identity is strong, and many French-speaking commentators speak of a Quebec culture as distinguished from English Canadian culture.[53] However as a whole Canada is a cultural mosaic a collection of several regional, aboriginal, and ethnic subcultures.[54][55] Canadian society is often depicted as being “very progressive, diverse, and multicultural”.[56]

Canadian government policies such as official bilingualism, publicly-funded health care, higher and more progressive taxation, outlawing capital punishment, strong efforts to eliminate poverty, an emphasis on multiculturalism, imposing strict gun control, leniency in regard to drug use, and, most recently, legalizing same-sex marriage are social indicators of how Canada’s political and cultural evolution differ from that of the United States.[57] American media and entertainment are popular, if not dominant, in English Canada; conversely, many Canadian cultural products and entertainers are successful in the United States and worldwide.[58] TheGovernment of Canada has also influenced culture with programs, laws and institutions. It has created Crown corporations to promote Canadian culture through media and has also tried to protect Canadian culture by setting legal minimums on Canadian content.[59]

Monument to Multiculturalism by Francesco Pirelli in Toronto; four identical sculptures are located in Buffalo City,Changchun, Sarajevo, and Sydney

Canadian culture has historically been influenced by Aboriginal, French and British cultures and traditions. Most of Canada’s territory was inhabited and developed later than other European colonies in the Americas, with the result that themes and symbols of pioneers, trappers, and traders were important in the early development of the Canadian identity.[60] First Nations played a critical part in the development of European colonies in Canada, particularly for their role in assisting exploration of the continent during the North American fur trade.[61] The British conquest of New France in the mid 1700s brought a large Francophone population under British Imperial rule, creating a need for compromise and accommodation.[62] The new British rulers left alone much of the religious, political, and social culture of the French-speaking habitants, guaranteeing the right of theCanadiens to practise the Catholic faith and to the use of French civil law (now Quebec law) through the Quebec Act of 1774.[63]

The Constitution Act of 1867 was designed to meet the growing calls of Canadians for autonomy from British rule, while avoiding the overly-strong decentralization that contributed to the Civil War in the United States.[64] The compromises made by the Fathers of Confederation set Canadians on a path to bilingualism, and this in turn contributed to an acceptance of diversity that later led to both multiculturalism and the recognition of Aboriginal contributions to Canadian society.[65][66]

The Canadian Forces and overall civilian participation in the First World War and Second World War helped to foster Canadian nationalism,[67][68][69] however in 1917 and 1944 conscription crisis’s highlighted the considerable rift along ethnic lines between Anglophones and Francophones.[70] As a result of the First and Second World Wars, the Government of Canada became more assertive and less deferential to British authority.[71] With the gradual loosening of political ties to the United Kingdom and the modernization of Canadian immigration policies, in the 20th century immigrants with African, Caribbean and Asian nationalities have added to the Canadian identity and its culture.[72] The multiple origins immigration pattern continues today with the arrival of large numbers of immigrants from non British or French backgrounds.[73]

Multiculturalism in Canada was adopted as the official policy of the government during the premiership of Pierre Elliot Trudeau in the 1970s and 1980s.[74] The Canadian government has often been described as the instigator of multicultural ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration.[75]Multiculturalism is administered by the Department of Canadian Heritage and reflected in the law through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act[76] and section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[77] In parts of Canada, especially the major urban areas, multiculturalism itself is the cultural norm and diversity is a force that unites the community.[78][79]


“Canuck” ( often Johnny Cannuk)(play /kəˈnʌk/) is a slang term for Canadians, often used as a name for Canadians in animated TV shows such as The Simpsons by Fox entertainment. The origins of the word are uncertain.


The term appears to have been coined in the 19th century, although its etymology is unclear, it usually referred to those who worked in a forest, usually cultivating wood.

According to Bart Bandy’s Lexicon of Canadian Etymology (Don Mills, Ont., C. Farquharson, 1994), the term evolved from the French word canule around the time of the American Revolution, but its path of evolution is still not clear. Another possibility is that it rose from a mispronunciation among Benedict Arnold‘s forces as they laid siege to Quebec in the winter of 1776. According to Bandy, the comte de Theleme-Menteuse was one of the locals captured by the Americans. In his Contes bizarre d’Isle d’Orleans, the latter says that the Americans picked up the common phrase “Quelle canule“, but they were usually shivering so hard when they said it that it came out with the “l” hardened into a guttural stop – thence a “k”.

On the other hand, Richard Montgomery, Arnold’s co-commander on the Canadian expedition, says that Arnold, who loved word-play, made a joke on the word canule that was picked up by his troops. In discussing the strategic value of placing troops at the mouth of the St. Lawrence River to resist the British fleet expected in the spring, Arnold noted the peculiar shape of the Gaspé Peninsula and exclaimed, “There’s a canule to make his majesty gasp.” One assumes that the same shivering effect noted previously led to the mispronunciation.

Yet another possibility comes from the German mercenaries who were captured with John Burgoyne‘s army at Saratoga. Held in prison camps in Pennsylvania, after Yorktown they were offered repatriation to Canada where they had spent several months camped near present-day Ottawa waiting for Burgoyne to get his gear together. Their universal protestation when return to the “Plains of Ottawa” was offered them was “Nein! Nein! Genug von Kanada.” They opted, instead, to become Pennsylvania Dutch. The English-speaking Americans around them picked up the phrase (part of “Pulling the Lion’s Tail” no doubt) and compressed Genug von Kanada into “Genug Kanada,” and so on. While this seems somewhat far-fetched, it does offer a reasonable explanation for the “k” in a word supposedly derived from French, especially as it was often spelled “Kanuck” during the 19th century.

Bandy also suggests that there is some evidence of the word originating among the “down-easters” of Maine who had picked up “Quelle Canule” from their French-speaking neighbours and applied it when facing the navigational difficulties caused by the peculiar “flushing” effect of the famed tides of the Bay of Fundy.

Another possibility, though there is no mention in Bandy, is that the many Scots who came to Canada during the late 18th and early 19th centuries quickly absorbed Quelle canule into their working vocabulary. Being Scots, they would, of course, swallow the end of canule and apply a mild glottal stop, ending up with something very like “Quelle canuhgk.”[citation needed]

A more recent theory of term has that its origins are in the Klondike Gold Rush or the Fraser Valley Gold Rush and the dynamics of the fast evolving Chinook jargon, the lingua franca of the Pacific Northwestat the time. Hawaiian prospectors were derogatorily referred to as “Canucks” instead of the proper Kanaka (Hawaiian) by Anglo-American and other prospectors in the Yukon, Alaska. Eventually this term was applied to French Canadians and found its way to the rest of the continent, as prospectors drifted back to their home regions. This is similar to other words in English derived from Chinook Jargon. Additionally, the term may not specifically derive from the Klondike gold rush as there was significant Hawaiian immigration to merit a Kanaka community and the region known as Kanaka Bar which is a Chinook jargon term. [1][2][3]


The Random House Dictionary notes that: “The term Canuck is first recorded about 1835 as an Americanism (American term), originally referring specifically to a French Canadian. This was probably the original meaning, though in Canada and other countries, “Canuck” refers to any Canadian.” [4] In fact, the 1835 source cited refers to a foreign-speaker: “Jonathan distinguishes a Dutch or a French Canadian, by the term Kanuk”.[5]

[edit]Usage and examples

Canadians use “Canuck” as an affectionate or merely descriptive term for their nationality. Other nationalities may use the word as an affectionate, or derogatory, or merely a descriptive term.

Usage of the term includes:

  • The Vancouver Canucks professional hockey team.
  • “Canuck” is a nickname for the Curtiss JN4 biplane and Avro CF-100 jet fighter. The CF-100 was the only Canadian-designed and built jet fighter to enter operational service. From 1950–1958, 692 Canucks were built. They remained in service until 1981
  • One of the first uses of “Canuck” — in the form of “Kanuk” — specifically referred to Dutch Canadians as well as the French.
  • The Canada national rugby union team (men’s) is officially nicknamed “Canucks”.
  • The Canucks rugby Club, playing in Calgary since 1968.
  • The Crazy Canucks, Canadian alpine ski racers who competed successfully on the World Cup circuit in the ’70s.
  • Johnny Canuck, a personification of Canada who appeared in early political cartoons of the 1860s resisting Uncle Sam‘s bullying. Johnny Canuck was revived in 1942 by Leo Bachle to defend Canada against the Nazis. The Vancouver Canucks have adopted a personification of Johnny Canuck on their alternate hockey sweater. [6] The goaltender for the Canucks Roberto Luongo, has a picture of Johnny Canuck on his goalie mask.
  • In 1975 in comics by Richard Comely, Captain Canuck is a super-agent for Canadians’ security, with Redcoat and Kebec being his sidekicks. (Kebec is claimed to be unrelated to Capitaine Kébec of a French-Canadian comic published two years earlier.) Captain Canuck had enhanced strength and endurance thanks to being bathed in alien rays during a camping trip. The captain was reintroduced in the mid-1990s, and again in 2004.
  • Operation Canuck was the designated name of a British SAS raid led by a Canadian captain, Buck McDonald in January 1945.
  • “Canuck” also has the derived meanings of a Canadian pony (rare) and a French-Canadian patois[7] (very rare).
  • Soviet Canuckistan was an insult used by Pat Buchanan in response to Canada’s reaction to racial profiling by US Customs agents.
  • During the Vancouver 2010 Olympics official Canadian Olympic gear bore the term.
  • The Canuck letter became a focal point during the US 1972 Democratic primaries, when a letter published in the Manchester Union Leader implied Democratic contender Senator Edmund Muskie was prejudiced against French-Canadians. Soon, as a result, he ended his campaign. The letter was later discovered to have been written by the Nixon campaign in an attempt to sabotage Muskie.
  • The Marvel Comics character Wolverine is often referred to affectionately as “the Ol’ Canuklehead” due to his Canadian heritage.
  • In the novel Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace, French-Canadians are often referred to as “‘Nucks.”

List of Canadians




Main articles: List of Canadian actors and Canadian pioneers in early Hollywood


Main articles: List of Canadian television personalities and List of Canadian radio personalities


Main articles: List of Canadian musicians and List of bands from Canada

[edit]Visual arts

Main articles: List of Canadian artists and List of Canadian painters



Roberta Bondar.


Main articles: List of famous Canadian sports personalities and Canada’s Athletes of the 20th Century

[edit]Business personalities

Timothy Eaton.


[edit]Wrongfully convicted







[edit]Military figures

Further information: List of Canadian Victoria Cross recipients

Billy Bishop.

John McCrae.


Main article: List of Canadian monarchs


  • Henning, Doug (1947–2000) – credited with reviving the magic show in North America
  • Mandrake, Leon (1911–1993) Mandrake the Great – and his sons Lon and Ron, born in 1948 and 1949, respectively
  • Randi, James (born 1928) – magician, writer, skeptical investigator of paranormal and pseudo-scientific claims, and founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation.
  • Vernon, Dai (1894–1992) – magician – known as “the man who fooled Houdini”


Canada' PM's 1

Canada' PM's 2

Canada' PM's 3

Canada' PM's 4

Further information: List of Prime Ministers of Canada, Members of the Canadian House of Commons, and List of Canadian senators

Jean Chrétien.

[edit]Provincial premiers
Main articles:
[edit]Territorial premiers
Main articles:
[edit]First Nations leaders

See also: Aboriginal Canadian personalities

A sepia photograph of Aatsista-Mahkan (Running Rabbit). He is wearing what is usually described as a buckskin outfit. It is elaborate and he is holding a pole.

Aatsista-Mahkan taken by Edward Curtis

"A bust portrait of Métis leader Louis Riel c1870 after a carte de visite in 1884."

Louis Riel. leader of the Red River Rebellion and North-West Rebellion.

[edit]Religious figures

[edit]Church leaders
[edit]Religious cult figures




Main articles:


Main article: List of Canadian writers

[edit]Other personalities

Daniel Negreanu.



Lists by city
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Groupings and articles of relevance

Main article: Ethnic origins of people in Canada

History of Canada

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History of Canada

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The history of Canada covers the period from the arrival of Paleo-Indians thousands of years ago to the present day. Canada has been inhabited for millennia by distinctive groups of Aboriginal peoples, among whom evolved trade networks, spiritual beliefs, and social hierarchies. Some of these civilizations had long faded by the time of the first European arrivals and have been discovered through archaeological investigations. Various treaties and laws have been enacted between European settlers and the Aboriginal populations.

Beginning in the late 15th century, French and British expeditions explored, and later settled, along the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America to Britain in 1763 after the Seven Years’ War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as afederal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the British Empire, which became official with the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and completed in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament.

Over centuries, elements of Aboriginal, French, British and more recent immigrant customs have combined to form a Canadian culture. Canadian culture has also been strongly influenced by that of its linguistic, geographic and economic neighbour, the United States. Since the conclusion of the Second World War, Canadians have supported multilateralism abroad and socioeconomic development domestically. Canada currently consists of ten provinces and three territories and is governed as aparliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.


Main article: Pre-colonization history of Canada

Further information: List of years in Canada


The Great Lakes are estimated to have been formed at the end of the last glacial period (about 10,000 years ago), when theLaurentide ice sheet receded.

According to the North American archeological and Aboriginal genetic evidence, North and South America were the last continents in the world with human habitation.[1][2] During the Wisconsin glaciation, 50,000 – 17,000 years ago, falling sea levels allowed people to move across the Bering land bridge (Beringia) that joined Siberia to north west North America (Alaska).[3][4] At that point, they were blocked by the Laurentide ice sheet that covered most of Canada, which confined them to Alaska for thousands of years.[5]

Around 16,000 years ago, the glaciers began melting, allowing people to move south and east into Canada.[6] The exact dates and routes of the peopling of the Americas are the subject of an ongoing debate.[2][7][8][9] The Queen Charlotte Islands, Old Crow Flats, and Bluefish Caves are some of the earliest archaeological sites of Paleo-Indians in Canada.[10][11] Ice Age hunter-gatherers left lithic flake fluted stone tools and the remains of large butchered mammals.

The North American climate stabilized around 8000 BCE (10,000 years ago). Climatic conditions were similar to modern patterns; however, the receding glacial ice sheets still covered large portions of the land, creating lakes of meltwater.[12][13] Most population groups during the Archaic periods were still highly mobile hunter-gatherers.[14] However, individual groups started to focus on resources available to them locally; thus with the passage of time there is a pattern of increasing regional generalization (i.e.: Paleo-Arctic, Plano and Maritime Archaic traditions).[14]


Great Lakes area of the Hopewell Interaction Area
PP=Point Peninsula Complex   S=Saugeen Complex   L=Laurel Complex

The Woodland cultural period dates from about 2000 BCE to 1000 CE and includes the Ontario, Quebec, and Maritime regions.[12] The introduction of pottery distinguishes the Woodland culture from the previous Archaic-stage inhabitants. TheLaurentian-related people of Ontario manufactured the oldest pottery excavated to date in Canada.[15]

The Hopewell tradition is an Aboriginal culture that flourished along American rivers from 300 BCE to 500 CE. At its greatest extent, the Hopewell Exchange Systemconnected cultures and societies to the peoples on the Canadian shores of Lake Ontario. Canadian expression of the Hopewellian peoples encompasses the Point Peninsula, Saugeen, and Laurel complexes.[16][17][18]

The eastern woodland areas of what became Canada were home to the Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples. The Algonquian language is believed to have originated in the western plateau of Idaho or the plains of Montana and moved eastward,[19] eventually extending all the way from Hudson Bay to what is today Nova Scotia in the east and as far south as the Tidewater region of Virginia.

Pre-Columbian distribution ofAlgonquian languages in North America.

Speakers of eastern Algonquian languages included the Mi’kmaq and Abenaki of the Maritime region of Canada, and likely the extinctBeothuk of Newfoundland.[20][21] The Ojibwa and other Anishinaabe speakers of the central Algonquian languages retain an oral tradition of having moved to their lands around the western and central Great Lakes from the sea, likely the east coast. According to oral tradition the Ojibwa formed the Council of Three Fires in 796 CE with the Odawaand the Potawatomi.[22]

The Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) were centered from at least 1000 CE in northern New York, but their influence extended into what is now southern Ontario and the Montreal area of modern Quebec.[23] The Iroquois Confederacy, according to oral tradition, was formed in 1142 CE.[24][25] On the Great Plains the Cree or Nēhilawē (who spoke a closely related Central Algonquian language, the plains Cree language) depended on the vast herds of bison to supply food and many of their other needs.[26] To the north west were the peoples of the Na-Dene languages, which include the Athapaskan-speaking peoples and the Tlingit, who lived on the islands of southern Alaska and northernBritish Columbia. The Na-Dene language group is believed to be linked to the Yeniseian languages of Siberia.[27] The Dene of the western Arctic may represent a distinct wave of migration from Asia to North America.[27]

Pre-Columbian distribution ofNa-Dene languages in North America

The Interior of British Columbia was home to the Salishan language groups such as the Shuswap (Secwepemc) and Okanagan and southern Athabaskan language groups, primarily the Dakelh (Carrier) and the Tsilhqot’in.[28] The inlets and valleys of the British Columbia Coast sheltered large, distinctive populations, such as the Haida, Kwakwaka’wakw and Nuu-chah-nulth, sustained by the region’s abundant salmon and shellfish.[28] These peoples developed complex cultures dependent on the western red cedar that included wooden houses, seagoing whaling and war canoes and elaborately carved potlatch items and totem poles.[28] Defensive Salish trenchwork defences from the 16th century suggest a need for the southern Salish to take measures to protect themselves against their northern neighbours, who were known to mount raids into the Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound in historic times.[29]

In the Arctic archipelago, the distinctive Paleo-Eskimos known as Dorset peoples, whose culture has been traced back to around 500 CE, were replaced by the ancestors of today’s Inuit by 1500 CE.[30] This transition is supported by archaeological records and Inuit mythology that tells of having driven off the Tuniit or ‘first inhabitants’.[31] Inuit traditional laws are anthropologically different from Western law. Customary law was non-existent in Inuit society before the introduction of the Canadian legal system.[32]

[edit]European contact

Further information: Norse colonization of the Americas

L’Anse aux Meadows on the island of Newfoundland, site of a Norsemen colony.

There are reports of contact made before the 1492 voyages of Christopher Columbus and the age of discovery between First Nations, Inuit and those from other continents. The earliest known documented European exploration of Canada is described in the Icelandic Sagas, which recount the attempted Norse colonization of the Americas.[33][34] According to the Sagas, the first European to see Canada was Bjarni Herjólfsson, who was blown off course en route from Iceland to Greenland in the summer of 985 or 986 CE.[35] Around the year 1001 CE, the Sagas then refer to Leif Ericson landing in three places to the west,[36] the first two being Helluland (possibly Baffin Island) and Markland (possibly Labrador).[34][37] Leif’s third landing was at a place he calledVinland (possibly Newfoundland).[38] Norsemen (often referred to as Vikings) attempted to colonize the new land; they were driven out by the local climate and harassment by the Indigenous populace.[36][39] Archaeological evidence of a short-lived Norse settlement was found in L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland.[40]

Based on the Treaty of Tordesillas, the Portuguese Crown claimed it had territorial rights in the area visited by John Cabot in 1497 and 1498 CE.[41] To that end, in 1499 and 1500, the Portuguese mariner João Fernandes Lavrador visited the north Atlantic coast, which accounts for the appearance of “Labrador” on topographical maps of the period.[42] Subsequently, in 1501 and 1502 the Corte-Real brothers explored Newfoundland and Labrador, claiming them as part of the Portuguese Empire.[43][44] In 1506, King Manuel I of Portugal created taxes for the cod fisheries in Newfoundland waters.[45] João Álvares Fagundes and Pêro de Barcelosestablished fishing outposts in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia around 1521 CE; however, these were later abandoned, with the Portuguese colonizers focusing their efforts on South America.[46] The extent and nature of Portuguese activity on the Canadian mainland during the 16th century remains unclear and controversial.[47][48]

[edit]New France and colonization 1534–1763

Main articles: New France and Former colonies and territories in Canada

Replica of Port Royal habitation, located at the Port-Royal National Historic Site of Canada, Nova-Scotia.[49]

French interest in the New World began with Francis I of France, who in 1524 sponsored Giovanni da Verrazzano to navigate the region between Florida and Newfoundland in hopes of finding a route to the Pacific Ocean.[50] In 1534, Jacques Cartier planted a cross in the Gaspé Peninsula and claimed the land in the name of Francis I.[51] Despite initial French attempts at settling the region having ended in failure, French fishing fleets began to sail to the Atlantic coast and into the St. Lawrence River, trading and making alliances with First Nations.[51] In 1600, a trading post was established at Tadoussac by François Gravé Du Pont, a merchant, and Pierre de Chauvin de Tonnetuit‎, a captain of the French Royal Navy.[52] However, only five of the sixteen settlers (all male) survived the first winter and returned to France.[52]

In 1604, a North American fur trade monopoly was granted to Pierre Dugua Sieur de Monts.[53] Dugua led his first colonization expedition to an island located near to the mouth of the St. Croix River. Among his lieutenants was a geographer named Samuel de Champlain, who promptly carried out a major exploration of the northeastern coastline of what is now the United States.[53] In the spring of 1605, under Samuel de Champlain, the new St. Croix settlement was moved to Port Royal (today’s Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia) then abandoned in 1607.[49][52]

In 1608 Champlain founded what is now Quebec City, which would become the first permanent settlement and the capital of New France. He took personal administration over the city and its affairs, and sent out expeditions to explore the interior. Champlain himself discovered Lake Champlain in 1609. By 1615, he had travelled by canoe up the Ottawa River through Lake Nipissing and Georgian Bay to the center of Huron country near Lake Simcoe.[54] During these voyages, Champlain aided the Wendat (aka ‘Hurons’) in their battles against the Iroquois Confederacy.[55] As a result, the Iroquois would become enemies of the French and be involved in multiple conflicts (known as the French and Iroquois Wars) until the signing of the Great Peace of Montreal in 1701.[56]


Map of New France by Samuel de Champlain
“Carte geographique de la Nouvelle France” c. 1612/13 .

The English, lead by Sir Humphrey Gilbert, had claimed St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1583 as the first North American English colony by royal prerogative of Queen Elizabeth I.[57] The English would establish additional colonies in Cupids and Ferryland, Newfoundland beginning in 1610 and soon after founded the Thirteen Colonies to the south.[58] On the September 29, 1621, a charter for the foundation of a New World Scottish colony was granted by James VI of Scotland to Sir William Alexander.[59] In 1622, the first settlers left Scotland. They initially failed and permanent Nova Scotian settlements were not firmly established until 1629 during the end of the Anglo-French War.[59]These colonies did not last long: in 1631, under Charles I of England, the Treaty of Suza was signed, ending the war and returning Nova Scotia to the French.[60] New France was not fully restored to French rule until the 1632 Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye.[61] This led to new French immigrants and the founding of Trois-Rivières in 1634, the second permanent settlement in New France.[62]

After Champlain’s death in 1635, the Catholic Church and the Jesuit establishment became the most dominant force in New France and intended to establish a utopian European and Aboriginal Christian community.[63] In 1642, the Jesuit (Society of Jesus) sponsored a group of settlers, led by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve, who founded Ville-Marie, precursor to present-day Montreal.[64] The 1666 census of New France was conducted by France’s intendant, Jean Talon, in the winter of 1665–1666. The census showed a population count of 3,215Acadians and habitants in the administrative districts of Acadia and Canada (New France).[65] The census also revealed a great difference in the number of men at 2,034 versus 1,181 women.[66]

[edit]Wars during the colonial era

Further information: French and Indian Wars

See also: Military history of Canada


Map of North America in 1702 showing forts, towns and areas occupied by European settlements. Britain (pink), France (blue), and Spain (orange)

While the French settlers were established in modern Quebec and Nova Scotia, new arrivals stopped coming from France. By 1680 the French population was around 11,000[67] and the British vastly outnumbered them (by approximately 10:1) from the Thirteen Colonies to the south. From 1670, through the Hudson’s Bay Company, the English also laid claim to Hudson Bay, and its drainage basin (known as Rupert’s Land), and operated fishing settlements in Newfoundland.[68] La Salle‘s explorations gave France a claim to the Mississippi River Valley, where fur trappers and a few settlers set up scattered settlements.[69] French expansion challenged the Hudson’s Bay Company claims, and in 1686Pierre Troyes led an overland expedition from Montreal to the shore of the bay, where they managed to capture some areas.[70]

There were four French and Indian Wars and two additional wars in Acadia and Nova Scotia (see Father Rale’s War and Father Le Loutre’s War) between the Thirteen American Colonies and New France from 1689 to 1763. During King William’s War (1689 to 1697) military conflicts in Acadia included: Battle of Port Royal (1690); a naval battle in the Bay of Fundy (Action of July 14, 1696); and the Raid on Chignecto (1696) .[71]The Treaty of Ryswick in 1697 ended the war between the two colonial powers of England and France for a brief time.[72] During Queen Anne’s War (1702 to 1713), the British Conquest of Acadia occurred in 1710,[73] resulting in Nova Scotia, other than Cape Breton, being officially ceded to the British by the Treaty of Utrecht including Rupert’s Land, that had been conquered by France in the late 17th century (Battle of Hudson’s Bay).[74] As an immediate result of this setback, France founded the powerful Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island.[75]


St. John River Campaign: Raid on Grimrose (present day Gagetown, New Brunswick). This is the only contemporaneous image of theExpulsion of the Acadians

Louisbourg was intended to serve as a year-round military and naval base for France’s remaining North American empire and to protect the entrance to the St. Lawrence River. Father Rale’s Warresulted in both the fall of New France influence in present-day Maine as well as recognition the Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia. During King George’s War (1744 to 1748), an army of New Englanders led by William Pepperrell mounted an expedition of 90 vessels and 4,000 men against Louisbourg in 1745.[76] Within three months the fortress surrendered. The return of Louisbourg to French control by the peace treaty prompted the British to found Halifax in 1749 under Edward Cornwallis.[77] Despite the official cessation of war between the British and French empires with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle; the conflict in Acadia and Nova Scotia continued on as the Father Le Loutre’s War.[78]

The British ordered the Acadians expelled from their lands in 1755 during the French and Indian War, an event called the Expulsion of the Acadians or le Grand Dérangement.[79] The “expulsion” resulted in approximately 12,000 Acadians being shipped to destinations throughout Britain’s North American and to France, Quebec and the French Caribbean colony of Saint-Domingue.[80] The first wave of the expulsion of the Acadians began with the Bay of Fundy Campaign (1755)and the second wave began after the final Siege of Louisbourg (1758). Many of the Acadians settled in southern Louisiana, creating the Cajun culture there.[80]Some Acadians managed to hide and others eventually returned to Nova Scotia, but they were far outnumbered by a new migration of New England Planters who were settled on the former lands of the Acadians and transformed Nova Scotia from a colony of occupation for the British to a settled colony with stronger ties to New England.[80] Britain eventually gained control of Quebec City and Montreal after the Battle of the Plains of Abraham and Battle of Fort Niagara in 1759, and the Battle of the Thousand Islands and Battle of Sainte-Foy in 1760.[81]

[edit]Canada under British rule (1763–1867)

Main article: Canada under British rule (1763–1867)


Map showing British territorial gains following the “Seven Years’ War”. Treaty of Paris gains in pink, and Spanish territorial gains after the Treaty of Fontainebleau in yellow.

With the end of the Seven Years’ War and the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1763), France ceded almost all of its territory in mainland North America, except for fishing rights off Newfoundland and two small islands where it could dry that fish. In turn France received the return of its sugar colony, Guadeloupe, which it considered more valuable than Canada.[82]

The new British rulers retained and protected most of the property, religious, political, and social culture of the French-speaking habitants, guaranteeing the right of the Canadiens to practice the Catholic faith and to the use of French civil law (now Quebec law) through the Quebec Act of 1774.[83] The Royal Proclamation of 1763 had been issued in October, by King George III following Great Britain’s acquisition of French territory.[84] The proclamation organized Great Britain’s new North American empire and to stabilize relations between the British Crown and Aboriginal peoples through regulation of trade, settlement, and land purchases on the western frontier.[84]

[edit]American Revolution and Loyalists

Further information: Invasion of Canada (1775)

During the American Revolution there was some sympathy for the American cause among the Canadiens and the New Englanders in Nova Scotia.[85] Neither party joined the rebels, although several hundred individuals joined the revolutionary cause.[85][86] An invasion of Canada; by the Continental Army in 1775, to take Quebec from British control was halted at the Battle of Quebec, by Guy Carleton, with the assistance of local militias. The defeat of the British army during the Siege of Yorktown in October 1781, signaled the end of Britain’s struggle to suppress the American Revolution.[87] When the British evacuated New York City in 1783, they took many Loyalist refugees to Nova Scotia, while other Loyalists went to southwestern Quebec. So many Loyalists arrived on the shores of the St. John River that a separate colony—New Brunswick—was created in 1784;[88] followed in 1791 by the division of Quebec into the largely French-speaking Lower Canada (French Canada) along the St. Lawrence River and Gaspé Peninsula and an anglophone Loyalist Upper Canada, with its capital settled by 1796 in York, in present-day Toronto.[89] After 1790 most of the new settlers were American farmers searching for new lands; although generally favorable to republicanism, they were relatively non-political and stayed neutral in the War of 1812.[90]

The signing of the Treaty of Paris 1783, formally ended the war. Britain made several concessions to the Americans at the expense of the North American colonies.[91] Notably, the borders between Canada and the United States were officially demarkated.[91] All land south of the Great Lakes, which was formerly a part of the Province of Quebec and included modern day Michigan, Illinois and Ohio, was ceded to the Americans. Fishing rights were also granted to the United States in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and on the coast of Newfoundland and the Grand Banks.[91] The British ignored part of the treaty and maintained their military outposts in the Great Lakes areas it ceded to the U.S., and continued to supply the Indians there with munitions. The British evacuated the outposts with the Jay Treaty of 1795, but the continued supply of munitions irritated the Americans in the run-up to the war of 1812.[92]

[edit]War of 1812


Loyalist Laura Secord warning the British (Lieutenant – James FitzGibbon) and First Nations of an impending American attack at Beaver Dams June 1813. – by Lorne Kidd Smith, c. 1920

Main article: War of 1812

The War of 1812 was fought between the United States and the British with the British North American colonies being heavily involved.[93] Greatly outgunned by the British Royal Navy, the American war plans focused on an invasion of Canada (especially what is today eastern and western Ontario). The American frontier states voted for war to suppress the First Nations raids that frustrated settlement of the frontier.[93] The war on the border with the U.S. was characterized by a series of multiple failed invasions and fiascos on both sides. American forces took control of Lake Erie in 1813, driving the British out of western Ontario, killing the Native American leader Tecumseh, and breaking the military power of his confederacy.[94] The war was overseen by Isaac Brock, with the assistance of First Nations and loyalist informants like Laura Secord.[95]

The War ended with the Treaty of Ghent of 1814, and the Rush–Bagot Treaty of 1817.[93] A demographic result was the shifting of American migration from Upper Canada to Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.[93] After the war, supporters of Britain tried to repress the republicanism in Canada, that was common among Americanimmigrants to Canada.[93] The troubling memory of the war and the American invasions etched itself into the consciousness of Canadians as distrust of the intentions of the United States towards the British presence in North America.[96]pp. 254–255

[edit]Rebellions and the Durham Report

Further information: Rebellions of 1837

The rebellions of 1837 against the British colonial government took place in both Upper and Lower Canada. In Upper Canada, a band of Reformers under the leadership of William Lyon Mackenzie took up arms in a disorganized and ultimately unsuccessful series of small-scale skirmishes around Toronto, London, and Hamilton.[97]


The Burning of the Parliament Buildings in Montreal −1849, Joseph Légaré, c.1849

In Lower Canada, a more substantial rebellion occurred against British rule. Both English- and French-Canadian rebels, sometimes using bases in the neutral United States, fought several skirmishes against the authorities. The towns of Chambly and Sorel were taken by the rebels, and Quebec City was isolated from the rest of the colony. Montreal rebel leader Robert Nelson read the “Declaration of Independence of Lower Canada” to a crowd assembled at the town of Napierville in 1838.[98]The rebellion of the Patriote movement were defeated after battles across Quebec. Hundreds were arrested, and several villages were burnt in reprisal.[98]

British Government then sent Lord Durham to examine the situation, he stayed in Canada only five months before returning to Britain, and brought with him, hisDurham Report which strongly recommended responsible government.[99] A less well received recommendation was the amalgamation of Upper and Lower Canada for the deliberate assimilation of the French-speaking population. The Canadas were merged into a single colony, United Province of Canada, by the 1840 Act of Union, with responsible government achieved in 1848, a few months after it was granted to Nova Scotia.[99] The parliament of United Canada in Montreal was set on fire by a mob of Tories in 1849 after the passing of an indemnity bill for the people who suffered losses during the rebellion in Lower Canada.[100]

Between the Napoleonic Wars and 1850 some 800,000 immigrants came to the colonies of British North America, mainly from the British Isles as part of the great migration of Canada.[101] These included Gaelic-speaking Highland Scots displaced by the Highland Clearances to Nova Scotia and Scottish and English settlers to the Canadas, particularly Upper Canada. The Irish Famine of the 1840s significantly increased the pace of Irish Catholic immigration to British North America, with over 35,000 distressed Irish landing in Toronto alone in 1847 and 1848.[102]

[edit]Pacific colonies

Further information: History of British Columbia


Map of the Columbia District, also referred to asOregon Country.

Spanish explorers had taken the lead in the Pacific Northwest coast, with the voyages of Juan José Pérez Hernández in 1774 and 1775.[103] By the time the Spanish determined to build a fort on Vancouver Island, the British navigator James Cook had visited Nootka Sound and charted the coast as far as Alaska, while British and American maritime fur traders had begun a busy era of commerce with the coastal peoples to satisfy the brisk market for sea otter pelts in China, thereby launching what became known as the China Trade.[104]

In 1789 war threatened between Britain and Spain on their respective rights; the Nootka Crisis was resolved peacefully largely in favor of Britain, the much stronger naval power. In 1793 Alexander MacKenzie, a Canadian working for the North West Company, crossed the continent and with his Aboriginal guides and French-Canadian crew, reached the mouth of the Bella Coola River, completing the first continental crossing north of Mexico, missing George Vancouver’scharting expedition to the region by only a few weeks.[105] In 1821, the North West Company and Hudson’s Bay Company merged, with a combined trading territory that was extended by a licence to the North-Western Territory and the Columbia and New Caledonia fur districts, which reached the Arctic Ocean on the north and the Pacific Ocean on the west.[106]

The Colony of Vancouver Island was chartered in 1849, with the trading post at Fort Victoria as the capital. This was followed by the Colony of the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1853, and by the creation of the Colony of British Columbia in 1858 and the Stikine Territory in 1861, with the latter three being founded expressly to keep those regions from being overrun and annexed by American gold miners.[107] The Colony of the Queen Charlotte Islands and most of the Stikine Territory were merged into the Colony of British Columbia in 1863 (the remainder, north of the 60th Parallel, became part of the North-Western Territory).[107]


Main article: Canadian Confederation


1885 photo of Robert Harris’ 1884 painting, Conference at Quebec in 1864, also known as The Fathers of Confederation. The scene is an amalgamation of the Charlottetown andQuebec City conference sites and attendees.

The Seventy-Two Resolutions from the 1864 Quebec Conference and Charlottetown Conference laid out the framework for uniting British colonies in North America into a federation.[108] They had been adopted by the majority of the provinces of Canada and became the basis for the London Conference of 1866, which led to the formation of the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.[108] The term dominion was chosen to indicate Canada’s status as a self-governing colony of the British Empire, the first time it was used about a country.[109] With the coming into force of the British North America Act (enacted by the British Parliament), the Province of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia became a federated kingdom in its own right.[110][111][112]

Federation emerged from multiple impulses: the British wanted Canada to defend itself; the Maritimes needed railroad connections, which were promised in 1867; British-Canadian nationalism sought to unite the lands into one country, dominated by the English language and British culture; many French-Canadians saw an opportunity to exert political control within a new largely French-speaking Quebec[96]pp. 323–324 and fears of possible U.S. expansion northward.[109] On a political level, there was a desire for the expansion of responsible government and elimination of the legislative deadlock between Upper and Lower Canada, and their replacement with provincial legislatures in a federation.[109] This was especially pushed by the liberal Reform movement of Upper Canada and the French-CanadianParti rouge in Lower Canada who favored a decentralized union in comparison to the Upper Canadian Conservative party and to some degree the French-CanadianParti bleu, which favored a centralized union.[109][113]

[edit]Post-Confederation Canada 1867–1914


The Battle of Fish Creek, fought April 24, 1885, at Fish Creek, Saskatchewan, was a major Métis victory over the Dominion of Canadaforces attempting to quell Louis Riel‘s North-West Rebellion.

Main article: Post-Confederation Canada (1867–1914)

Further information: Territorial evolution of Canada

In 1866, the Colony of British Columbia and the Colony of Vancouver Island merged into a single Colony of British Columbia, until their incorporation into the Canadian Confederation in 1871.[114] In 1873, Prince Edward Island, the Maritime colony that had opted not to join Confederation in 1867, was admitted into the country.[114] That year, John A. Macdonald (First Prime Minister of Canada) created the North-West Mounted Police (now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to help police the Northwest Territories.[115] Specifically the Mounties were to assert Canadian sovereignty over possible American encroachments into the sparsely populated land.[115]

The Mounties first large scale mission was to suppress the second independence movement by Manitoba‘s Métis, a mixed blood people of joint First Nations and European descent, who originated in the mid-17th century.[116] The desire for independence erupted in the Red River Rebellion in 1869 and the later North-West Rebellion in 1885 led by Louis Riel.[115][117] In 1905 when Saskatchewan and Alberta were admitted as provinces, they were growing rapidly thanks to abundant wheat crops that attracted immigration to the plains by Ukrainians and Northern and Central Europeans and by settlers from the United States, Britain and eastern Canada.[118][119]


A photochrome postcard showing downtown Montreal, circa 1910. Canada’s population became urbanized during the 20th century.

The Alaska boundary dispute, simmering since the Alaska purchase of 1867, became critical when gold was discovered in the Yukon during the late 1890s, with the U.S. controlling all the possible ports of entry. Canada argued its boundary included the port of Skagway. The dispute went to arbitration in 1903, but the British delegate sided with the Americans, angering Canadians who felt the British had betrayed Canadian interests to curry favour with the U.S.[120]

In 1893, legal experts codified a framework of civil and criminal law, culminating in the Criminal Code of Canada. This solidified the liberal ideal of “equality before the law” in a way that made an abstract principle into a tangible reality for every adult Canadian.[121] Wilfrid Laurier who served 1896–1911 as the Seventh Prime Minister of Canada felt Canada was on the verge of becoming a world power, and declared that the 20th century would “belong to Canada”[122]

Laurier signed a reciprocity treaty with the U.S. that would lower tariffs in both directions. Conservatives under Robert Borden denounced it, saying it would integrate Canada’s economy into that of the U.S. and loosen ties with Britain. Conservatives win the Canadian federal election, 1911.[123]

[edit]World Wars and Interwar Years 1914–1945

Main article: Canada in the World Wars and Interwar Years

[edit]First World War

World War I poster for 1918–Canadian victory bond drive, depicts three French women pulling a plow.

The Canadian Forces and civilian participation in the First World War helped to foster a sense of British-Canadian nationhood. The highpoints of Canadian military achievement during the First World War came during the Somme, Vimy, Passchendaele battles and what later became known as “Canada’s Hundred Days“.[124] The reputation Canadian troops earned, along with the success of Canadian flying aces including William George Barker and Billy Bishop, helped to give the nation a new sense of identity.[125] The War Office in 1922 reported approximately 67,000 killed and 173,000 wounded during the war.[126] This excludes civilian deaths in war time incidents like the Halifax Explosion.[126]

Support for Great Britain during the First World War caused a major political crisis over conscription, with Francophones, mainly from Quebec, rejecting national policies.[127]During the crisis large numbers of enemy aliens (especially Ukrainians and Germans) were put under government controls.[128] The Liberal party was deeply split, with most of its Anglophone leaders joining the unionist government headed by Prime Minister Robert Borden, the leader of the Conservative party.[129] The Liberals regained their influence after the war under the leadership of William Lyon Mackenzie King, who served as prime minister with three separate terms between 1921 and 1949.[130]


As a result of the First World War, Canada became more assertive and less deferential to British authority; it became an independent member of the League of Nations. In 1923 British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, appealed repeatedly for Canadian support in the Chanak crisis, in which a war threatened between Britain and Turkey. Canada refused.[131] The Department of External Affairs, which had been founded in 1909, was expanded and promoted Canadian autonomy as Canada reduced its reliance on British diplomats and used its own foreign service.[132] Thus began the careers of such important diplomats as Norman Robertson and Hume Wrong, and future prime minister Lester Pearson.[133]

In 1921 to 1926, William Lyon Mackenzie King‘s Liberal government pursued a conservative domestic policy with the object of lowering wartime taxes and, especially, cooling wartime ethnic tensions, as well as defusing postwar labour conflicts. The Progressives refused to join the government, but did help the Liberals defeat non-confidence motions. King faced a delicate balancing act of reducing tariffs enough to please the Prairie-based Progressives, but not too much to alienate his vital support in industrial Ontario and Quebec, which needed tariffs to compete with American imports. King and Conservative leader Arthur Meighen sparred constantly and bitterly in Commons debates.[134] The Progressives gradually weakened. Their effective and passionate leader, Thomas Crerar, resigned to return to his grain business, and was replaced by the more placid Robert Forke. The socialist reformer J.S. Woodsworth gradually gained influence and power among the Progressives, and he reached an accommodation with King on policy matters.[135]

In 1926 Prime Minister Mackenzie King advised the Governor General, Lord Byng, to dissolve Parliament and call another election, but Byng refused, the first and only time that the Governor General has exercised such a power. Instead Byng called upon Meighan, the Conservative Party leader, to form a government. Meighen attempted to do so, but was unable to obtain a majority in the Commons and he, too, advised dissolution, which this time was accepted. The episode, the King-Byng Affair, marks a constitutional crisis that was resolved by a new tradition of complete non-interference in Canadian political affairs on the part of the British government.

In 1931 the Statute of Westminster gave each dominion (which included Canada and Newfoundland) the opportunity for almost complete legislative independence from the Parliament of the United Kingdom.[136] While Newfoundland never adopted the statute, for Canada the Statute of Westminster has been called its declaration of independence.[137]

[edit]Great Depression

Main article: Great Depression in Canada

Unemployed men march in Toronto

Canada was hard hit by the worldwide Great Depression that began in 1929. Between 1929 and 1933, the gross national product dropped 40% (compared to 37% in the US). Unemployment reached 27% at the depth of the Depression in 1933. Many businesses closed, as corporate profits of $396 million in 1929 turned into losses of $98 million in 1933. Canadian exports shrank by 50% from 1929 to 1933. Construction all but stopped (down 82%, 1929-33), and wholesale prices dropped 30%. Wheat prices plunged from 78c per bushel (1928 crop) to 29c in 1932.[138]

Urban unemployment nationwide was 19%; Toronto’s rate was 17%, according to the census of 1931. Farmers who stayed on their farms were not considered unemployed.[139] By 1933, 30% of the labour force was out of work, and one fifth of the population became dependent on government assistance. Wages fell as did prices. Worst hit were areas dependent on primary industries such as farming, mining and logging, as prices fell and there were few alternative jobs. Most families had moderate losses and little hardship, though they too became pessimistic and their debts become heavier as prices fell. Some families saw most or all of their assets disappear, and suffered severely.[140][141]

In 1930 in the first stage of the long depression, Prime Minister Mackenzie King believed that the crisis was a temporary swing of the business cycle and that the economy would soon recovery without government intervention. He refused to provide unemployment relief or federal aid to the provinces, saying that if Conservative provincial governments demanded federal dollars he would not give them “a five cent piece.”[142] His blunt wisecrack was used to defeat the Liberals in the 1930 election. The main issue was the rapid deterioration in the economy and whether the prime minister was out of touch with the hardships of ordinary people.[143][144] The winner of the 1930 election was Richard Bedford Bennett and the Conservatives. Bennett had promised high tariffs and large scale spending, but as deficits increased he became wary and cut back severely on Federal spending. With falling support and the depression only getting worse Bennett attempted to introduce policies based on the New Deal of PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) in the United States, but he got little passed. Bennett’s government became a focus of popular discontent. For example, auto owners saved on gasoline by using horses to pull their cars, dubbing them Bennett Buggies. The Conservative failure to restore prosperity led to the return of Mackenzie King’s Liberals in the 1935 election. [145]

Strikers from unemployment relief camps climbing on boxcars in Kamloops, British Columbia

In 1935 the Liberals used the slogan “King or Chaos” to win a landslide in the 1935 election.[146] Promising a much-desired trade treaty with the U.S., the Mackenzie King government passed the 1935 Reciprocal Trade Agreement. It marked the turning point in Canadian-American economic relations, reversing the disastrous trade war of 1930-31, lowering tariffs, and yielding a dramatic increase in trade.[147]

The worst of the Depression had passed by 1935, as Ottawa launched relief programs such as the National Housing Act and National Employment Commission. TheCanadian Broadcasting Corporation became a crown corporation in 1936. Trans-Canada Airlines (the precursor to Air Canada) was formed in 1937, as was the National Film Board of Canada in 1939. In 1938, Parliament transformed the Bank of Canada from a private entity to a crown corporation.[148]

One political response was a highly restrictive immigration policy and a rise in natvism.[149]

Times were especially hard in western Canada, where a full recovery did not occur until the Second World War began in 1939. One response was the creation of new political parties such as the Social Credit movement and the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, as well as popular protest in the form of the On-to-Ottawa Trek.[150]

[edit]Second World War

Canadian crew of a Sherman tank in Vaucelles, France, after D-day south of Juno Beach, June 1944


Canada’s involvement in the Second World War began when Canada declared war on Nazi Germany on September 10, 1939, delaying it one week after Britain acted to symbolically demonstrate independence. The war restored Canada’s economic health and its self-confidence, as it played a major role in the Atlantic and in Europe. During the war Canada became more closely linked to the U.S. The Americans took virtual control of the Yukon in order to build the Alaska Highway, and was a major presence in the British colony of Newfoundland with major airbases.[151]

Mackenzie King — and Canada — were largely ignored by Winston Churchill and the British government despite Canada’s major role in supplying food, raw materials, munitions and money to the hard-pressed British economy, training airmen for the Commonwealth, guarding the western half of the North Atlantic Ocean against German U-boats, and providing combat troops for the invasions of Italy, France and Germany in 1943-45. The government successfully mobilized the economy for war, with impressive results in industrial and agricultural output. The depression ended, prosperity returned, and Canada’s economy expanded significantly. On the political side, Mackenzie King rejected any notion of a government of national unity.[152] The Canadian federal election, 1940 was held as normally scheduled, producing another majority for the Liberals.

Building up the Royal Canadian Air Force was a high priority; it was kept separate from Britain’s Royal Air Force. The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan Agreement, signed in December, 1939, bound Canada, Britain, New Zealand, and Australia to a program that eventually trained half the airmen from those four nations in the Second World War.[153]

After the start of war with Japan in December 1941 the government, in cooperation with the U.S., began the Japanese-Canadian internment, which sent 22,000 British Columbia residents of Japanese descent to relocation camps far from the coast. The reason was intense public demand for removal and fears of espionage or sabotage.[154]The government ignored reports from the RCMP and Canadian military that most of the Japanese were law-abiding and not a threat.[155]


William Mackenzie King voting in the plebiscite on the introduction of conscription for overseas military service

The Battle of the Atlantic began immediately, and from 1943 to 1945 was led by Leonard W. Murray, from Nova Scotia. German U-boats operated in Canadian and Newfoundland waters throughout the war, sinking many naval and merchant vessels, as Canada took charge of the defenses of the western Atlantic.[156] The Canadian armywas involved in the failed defence of Hong Kong, the unsuccessful Dieppe Raid in August 1942, the Allied invasion of Italy, and the highly successful invasion of France and the Netherlands in 1944-45.[157]


The Conscription Crisis of 1944 greatly affected unity between French and English-speaking Canadians, though was not as politically intrusive as that of the First World War.[158] Of a population of approximately 11.5 million, 1.1 million Canadians served in the armed forces in the Second World War. Many thousands more served with theCanadian Merchant Navy.[159] In all, more than 45,000 died, and another 55,000 were wounded.[160][161]

[edit]Post-war Era 1945–1960

Main article: History of Canada (1945–1960)

Prosperity returned to Canada during the Second World War and continued in the proceeding years, with the development of universal health care, old-age pensions, and veterans’ pensions.[162][163] The financial crisis of the Great Depression had led the Dominion of Newfoundland to relinquish responsible government in 1934 and become a crown colony ruled by a British governor.[164] In 1948, the British government gave voters three Newfoundland Referendum choices: remaining a crown colony, returning to Dominion status (that is, independence), or joining Canada. Joining the United States was not made an option. After bitter debate Newfoundlanders voted to join Canada in 1949 as a province.[165]


The Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow(Recreation).

The foreign policy of Canada during the Cold War was closely tied to that of the United States. Canada was a founding member of NATO (which Canada wanted to be a transatlantic economic and political union as well[166]). In 1950 Canada sent combat troops to Korea during the Korean War as part of the United Nations forces. The federal government’s desire to assert its territorial claims in the Arctic during the Cold War manifested with the High Arctic relocation, in which Inuit were moved from Nunavik (the northern third of Quebec) to barren Cornwallis Island;[167] this project was later the subject of a long investigation by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.[168]

In 1956, the United Nations responded to the Suez Crisis by convening a United Nations Emergency Force to supervise the withdrawal of invading forces. The peacekeeping force was initially conceptualized by Secretary of External Affairs and future Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson.[169] Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his work in establishing the peacekeeping operation.[169] Throughout the mid-1950s Louis St. Laurent (12th Prime Minister of Canada) and his successor John Diefenbaker attempted to create a new, highly advanced jet fighter, the Avro Arrow.[170] The controversial aircraft was cancelled by Diefenbaker in 1959. Diefenbaker instead purchased the BOMARC missile defense system and American aircraft. In 1958 Canada established (with the United States) the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).[171]


Main article: History of Canada (1960–1981)

In the 1960s, what became known as the Quiet Revolution took place in Quebec, overthrowing the old establishment which centered on the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec and led to modernizing of the economy and society.[172] Québécois nationalists demanded independence, and tensions rose until violence erupted during the 1970 October Crisis.[173] In 1976 the Parti Québécois was elected to power in Quebec, with a nationalist vision that included securing French linguistic rights in the province and the pursuit of some form of sovereignty for Quebec. This culminated in the 1980 referendum in Quebec on the question of sovereignty-association, which was turned down by 59% of the voters.[173]


The Canadian flag, flying in Vanier Park, near downtown Vancouver

In 1965, Canada adopted the maple leaf flag, although not without considerable debate and misgivings among large number of English Canadians.[174] The World’s Fair titled Expo 67 came to Montreal, coinciding with the Canadian Centennial that year. The fair opened April 28, 1967, with the theme “Man and his World” and became the best attended of all BIE-sanctioned world expositions until that time.[175]

Legislative restrictions on Canadian immigration that had favoured British and other European immigrants were amended in the 1960s, opening the doors to immigrants from all parts of the world.[176] While the 1950s had seen high levels of immigration from Britain, Ireland, Italy, and northern continental Europe, by the 1970s immigrants increasingly came from India, China, Vietnam, Jamaica and Haiti.[177] Immigrants of all backgrounds tended to settle in the major urban centres, particularly Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.[177]

During his long tenure in the office (1968–79, 1980–84), Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau made social and cultural change his political goals, including the pursuit ofofficial bilingualism in Canada and plans for significant constitutional change.[178] The west, particularly the petroleum-producing provinces like Alberta, opposed many of the policies emanating from central Canada, with the National Energy Program creating considerable antagonism and growing western alienation.[179]Multiculturalism in Canada was adopted as the official policy of the Canadian government during the prime ministership of Pierre Trudeau.[180]


Main article: History of Canada (1982–1992)

In 1982, the Canada Act was passed by the British parliament and granted Royal Assent by Queen Elizabeth II on March 29, while the Constitution Act was passed by the Canadian parliament and granted Royal Assent by the Queen on April 17, thus patriating the Constitution of Canada.[181] Previously, the constitution has existed only as an act passed of the British parliament, and was not even physically located in Canada, though it could not be altered without Canadian consent.[182] At the same time, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was added in place of the previous Bill of Rights.[183] The patriation of the constitution was Trudeau’s last major act as Prime Minister; he resigned in 1984.


Pte. Patrick Cloutier, a ‘Van Doo’ perimeter sentry, and Mohawk Warrior Brad Larocque, a University of Saskatchewan economics student, face off during the Oka Crisis(Image: Shaney Komulainen of Canadian Press, September 1, 1990)[184]

On June 23, 1985, Air India Flight 182 was destroyed above the Atlantic Ocean by a bomb on board exploding; all 329 on board were killed, of whom 280 wereCanadian citizens.[185] The Air India attack is the largest mass murder in Canadian history.[186]

The Progressive Conservative (PC) government of Brian Mulroney began efforts to gain Quebec’s support for the Constitution Act 1982 and end western alienation. In 1987 the Meech Lake Accord talks began between the provincial and federal governments, seeking constitutional changes favourable to Quebec.[187] The constitutional reform process under Prime Minister Mulroney culminated in the failure of the Charlottetown Accord which would have recognized Quebec as a “distinct society” but was rejected in 1992 by a narrow margin.[188]

Under Brian Mulroney, relations with the United States began to grow more closely integrated. In 1986, Canada and the U.S. signed the “Acid Rain Treaty” to reduce acid rain. In 1989, the federal government adopted the Free Trade Agreement with the United States despite significant animosity from the Canadian public who were concerned about the economic and cultural impacts of close integration with the United States.[189] On July 11, 1990, the Oka Crisis land dispute began between theMohawk people of Kanesatake and the adjoining town of Oka, Quebec.[190] The dispute was the first of a number of well-publicized conflicts between First Nations and the Canadian government in the late 20th century. In August 1990, Canada was one of the first nations to condemn Iraq‘s invasion of Kuwait, and it quickly agreed to join the U.S.-led coalition. Canada deployed destroyers and later a CF-18 Hornet squadron with support personnel, as well as a field hospital to deal with casualties.[191]

[edit]Recent history: 1992–present

Main article: History of Canada (1992–present)

Following Mulroney’s resignation as prime minister in 1993, Kim Campbell took office and became Canada’s first female prime minister.[192] Campbell remained in office only for a few months: the 1993 election saw the collapse of the Progressive Conservative Party from government to two seats, while the Quebec-based sovereigntist Bloc Québécois became the official opposition.[193] Prime Minister Jean Chrétien of the Liberals took office in November 1993 with a majority government and was re-elected with further majorities during the 1997 and 2000 elections.[194]


Political shift in Canada in the first decade of the 21st century

In 1995, the government of Quebec held a second referendum on sovereignty that was rejected by a margin of 50.6% to 49.4%.[195] In 1998, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled unilateral secession by a province to be unconstitutional, and Parliament passed the Clarity Act outlining the terms of a negotiated departure.[195] Environmental issues increased in importance in Canada during this period, resulting in the signing of the Kyoto Accord on climate change by Canada’s Liberal government in 2002. The accord was in 2007 nullified by the present government, which has proposed a “made-in-Canada” solution to climate change.[196]

Canada became the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide with the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act.[197] Court decisions, starting in 2003, had already legalized same-sex marriage in eight out of ten provinces and one of three territories. Before the passage of the Act, more than 3,000 same-sex couples had married in these areas.[198]

The Canadian Alliance and PC Party merged into the Conservative Party of Canada in 2003, ending a 13-year division of the conservative vote. The party was elected twice as a minority government under the leadership of Stephen Harper in the 2006 federal election and 2008 federal election.[194] Harper’s Conservative Party won a majority in the 2011 federal election with the New Democratic Party forming the Official Opposition for the first time.[199]

Under Harper, Canada and the United States continue to integrate state and provincial agencies to strengthen security along the Canada-United States borderthrough the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.[200] From 2002 to 2011, Canada was involved in the Afghanistan War as part of the U.S. stabilization force and the NATO-commanded International Security Assistance Force. In July 2010 the largest purchase in Canadian military history, totalling C$9 billion for the acquisition of 65 F-35 fighters, was announced by the federal government.[201] Canada is one of several nations that assisted in the development of the F-35 and has invested over C$168 million in the program.[202]



The NEW WORLD ORDER Criminal Cabal controlling Canadian Parliamentary proceeding and therefore the entire Canadian Government all major parties that is.The members of these political parties namely the Conservatives,the Liberals and to a lesser degree the NDP are by definition all GUILTY of GRAND TREASON against the Canadian Peoples… Over the last 40 some years we have been sold out To foreign Criminal Elite who see the Canadian Population as nothing more than the Indian Inhabitant of north America the first time and want they want us gone as in exterminated for our land and resources Its all part of there AGENDA 21 Genocide Agenda

  • Criminal Contempt of Parliament by Prime Minister Steven Harpers Conservative Party

  • 261509_10150230989225825_697110824_7427094_994074_n

  • The power to find a person in contempt of Parliament stemmed from Section 18 of the Constitution Act, 1867 in which “The privileges, immunities, and powers to be held, enjoyed… shall not confer any privileges, immunities, or powers exceeding those at the passing of such Act held, enjoyed, and exercised by the Commons House of Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and by the members thereof.”[2]

    Regarding the above-mentioned “privileges,” there is an important difference between the “individual parliamentary privileges” and “collective parliamentary privileges.” This difference is also important in any case of “breach of privilege” as it applies to Parliamentary privilege in Canada.

    [edit]Contempt citation cases for individuals

    Rarely has the Canadian federal parliament invoked its power to find an individual in contempt: There were “contempt citation” cases in 1913,[3] 1976,[3] 2003,[3] 2008[3] and 2011.[4]

    The April 10, 2008 case involved Royal Canadian Mounted Police deputy commissioner Barbara George who was cited for contempt for deliberately misleading a parliamentary committee over an income trust scandal. She was ultimately found in contempt but was not punished further than the motion itself.[5]

    The March 2011 contempt citation case involved Conservative MP Bev Oda.[4] While she was found to be prima facie in contempt by the Speaker, Oda was not formally held in contempt because Parliament was dissolved before a vote could be held on the matter.[6]


[edit]Contempt citation cases for governments

On March 9, 2011, Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons Peter Milliken made two Contempt of Parliament rulings: The first found that a Conservative Party cabinet minister, Bev Oda, could possibly be in contempt of Parliament.[4] The second ruling found the Cabinet could possibly be in contempt of Parliament for not meeting Opposition members’ requests for details of proposed bills and their cost estimates, an issue which had “been dragging on since the fall of 2010.”[4][7] Milliken ruled that both matters must go to their responsible parliamentary committees and that the committee was required to report its findings to the Speaker by March 21, 2011 — one day before the proposal of the budget.

Concerning the Speaker’s first ruling, on March 18, 2011, Opposition members of the committee (who outnumbered the government members) said they still judged Oda to be in contempt of Parliament, despite her testimony that day,[8] but the committee process never proceeded far enough to make a finding as to whether Oda was in contempt.[6][7]

Concerning the Speaker’s second ruling, on March 21, 2011, the committee tabled a report[9] that found the Government of Canada in contempt of Parliament.[7] As such, a motion of no confidence was introduced in the House.[10] On March 25, 2011, Members of Parliament voted on this motion, declaring a lack of confidence by a vote of 156 to 145 and forcing an election.[11][12] The contempt finding is unique in Canadian history. In a wider context, it is the first time that a government in the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations has been found in contempt of Parliament.[13][14]

2008–2009 Canadian parliamentary dispute

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Centre Block on Parliament Hill, containing the houses of the Canadian parliament

The 2008–2009 Canadian parliamentary dispute was a political dispute during the 40th Canadian Parliament. It was triggered by the expressed intention of the opposition parties (who together held a majority of seats in the House of Commons) to defeat the Conservative minority government on a motion of non-confidence six weeks after the federal election on October 14, 2008.

The intention to vote non-confidence arose from the government’s fiscal update, tabled on November 27, 2008. It included several contentious provisions that were rejected by the opposition parties that the government later withdrew. The Liberal Party and New Democratic Party reached an accord to form a minority coalition government. The Bloc Québécois agreed to provide support on confidence votes, thereby enabling the coalition a majority in the Commons. On December 4, 2008,Governor General Michaëlle Jean (the representative of the Canadian monarch and head of state, Elizabeth II) granted Prime Minister Stephen Harper (the head of government) a prorogation on the condition that parliament reconvene early in the new year; the date was set as January 26, 2009. The first session of the 40th parliament thus ended, delaying a vote of no-confidence.[1]

After prorogation, the Liberals underwent a change in leadership and distanced themselves from the coalition agreement, while the NDP and Bloc remained committed to bring down the government. The Conservative government’s budget, unveiled on January 27, 2009, largely met the demands of the Liberals who agreed to support it with an amendment to the budget motion.[2]


The 39th Canadian Parliament produced a Conservative minority government headed by Stephen Harper that lasted for two and a half years.[3] On September 7, 2008, the prime minister was granted a dissolution of parliament, triggering a snap election. Harper claimed that parliament had become dysfunctional necessitating a renewed mandate.

During the election campaign, publicity for strategic voting came from the Liberals, the Green Party, and the Anything But Conservative (ABC) campaign, foreshadowing the political divide that would become apparent in the weeks after the federal election, held on October 14.[4][5][6] The final tally saw an increase in the Conservative seat count from 127 to 143, a plurality, while the Liberals, led by Stéphane Dion, returned as Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, with 77 seats, down from 103 seats. Two other parties, the New Democratic Party (NDP), with 37 seats, up from 29 seats, and the Bloc Québécois, with 49 seats, down from 51 seats, together with two independent members of parliament, were elected to the House of Commons.[7]

[edit]The dispute

[edit]Catalyst: November 2008 fiscal update

On November 27, 2008, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty provided the House of Commons with a fiscal update, within which were plans to cut government spending, suspend the ability of civil servants to strike until 2011, sell off some Crown assets to raise capital, and eliminate the existing CAD$1.95 per vote subsidy parties garner in an election.[8] Since money bills are matters of confidence,[9] the opposition was forced to consider whether to accept the motion or bring down the government. Flaherty’s update was ultimately rejected, purportedly on the grounds that it lacked any fiscal stimulus during the ongoingeconomic crisis,[10][11] for its suspension of federal civil servants’ ability to strike, for suspending the right for women to seek recourse from the courts for pay equity issues, and for the change in election financing rules.[12]

[edit]Formation of a coalition

Coalition supporters

Gilles Duceppe, leader of the Bloc Québécois
Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party (not elected but supported a coalition government)

Gilles Duceppe
Elizabeth May

Coalition partners

Former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion
Jack Layton, leader of the NDP

Stéphane Dion
Jack Layton

After the Conservative government tabled its fiscal update, NDP leader Jack Layton asked his predecessor, Ed Broadbent, to contact former Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien to discuss a coalition to oust the Conservatives from power. The plan became public almost immediately.[13] Labelling the absence of an economic stimulus plan as irresponsible and the removal of public funding to parties as an attack against democracy, the opposition threatened to topple the weeks-old government by voting against the fiscal update. The opposition parties counted on the probability that Governor General Michaëlle Jean would invite a Liberal-NDP coalition able to hold the confidence of the House of Commons to form a government, instead of any other options available to her.

It was decided that the coalition between the Liberals and NDP would last until June 30, 2011, the proposed coalition having a cabinet of 24 ministers of the Crown, with the leader of the Liberal Party as prime minister, 17 other Liberal ministers (including the minister of finance), and six New Democratic ministers; if the prime minister chose a larger cabinet, the NDP proportion would be maintained. As the outgoing leader of the Liberal Party, Dion would have become prime minister, likely serving until the Liberal leadership convention in May 2009. Further, Liberal party elders Frank McKenna, Paul Martin, John Manley, and former NDP premier Roy Romanow, were reported to have been asked to form an economic advisory body to the coalition if needed,[14][15] though both McKenna and Manley declined to take part.[16]

The leader of the Bloc Québécois, which held the balance of power in the 40th parliament, signed a policy accord with the other opposition parties and agreed to support the proposed coalition on confidence matters until at least June 30, 2010. In return, the Bloc would have seen a consultative mechanism in place for the duration of the agreement, but would have no direct participation in the coalition, receiving no cabinet positions and being free to vote as it wished on other matters.[17] Independent MP Bill Casey announced he would join in voting non-confidence in Harper’s government.[18][19] It has been speculated that Layton and Duceppe had formed an agreement prior to the Conservatives’ fiscal update and then persuaded Dion to sign on.[20][21][22]

In December 2008, Elizabeth May announced the Green Party would support the proposed coalition from outside parliament. Dion indicated that the Green Party would be given input, but not a veto, over coalition policy and left open the possibility, should he become prime minister, of advising the appointment of May to the Senate.

The only example of a federal coalition government in Canada was that which was in office when the country was federated in 1867, called the Great Coalition led by Sir John A. Macdonald. There have been, however, examples of coalition governments in the Canadian provinces: In Manitoba, a coalition existed between the provincial Liberal Party and the Progressives following the 1932 election; the two parties subsequently merged, and also led a coalition government with several other parties through the 1940s.[23] At approximately the same time, British Columbia was governed by a Liberal-Conservative coalition, formed to keep the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) from power.[23] And, in 1985 in Ontario, the Liberals and the third-place New Democrats reached an agreement to vote non-confidence in the governing Progressive Conservative (which held a plurality, but not a majority of seats in the legislature) and have the lieutenant governor appoint the Liberal leader, David Peterson, as premier, with the NDP pledging to support his government on confidence motions for a period of two years; the NDP, however, had no cabinet posts.[23] The most recent coalition was seen in Saskatchewan, when, in 1999, the New Democratic Party formed such an arrangement with two Saskatchewan Liberal Party MLAs.[23]

During the First World War, the Unionist Party was quickly formed after a coalition was proposed in response to the Conscription Crisis of 1917 and, in 2000, the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives were allegedly secretly considering forming a coalition government with the Bloc Québécois if, together, their three parties had won a majority of the seats in the 2000 election.[24] Four years following, Stephen Harper sent a letter to then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, suggesting that, if the Liberal minority government fell, the Conservatives would be willing to form a government with the support of the Bloc Québécois and NDP.[25] During a subsequent press conference, Harper said: “In a minority parliament, if the government is defeated, the Governor-General should first consult widely before accepting any advice to dissolve parliament. So I would not want the prime minister to think that he can simply fail in the House of Commons as a route to a general election. That’s not the way our system works.”[26]

Go GIRL Go It should Say Fuck HARPER

[edit]Cabinet response

On November 28, 2008, Stephen Harper referred to the accord between the Liberals and NDP as undemocratic backroom dealing, stating that the opposition parties were “overturning the results of an election a few weeks later in order to form a coalition that nobody voted for”;[27] Transport minister John Baird announced that two of the Minister of Finance’s proposals that had been rejected by the opposition—the elimination of political party subsidies and a ban on strikes by public servants—would be dropped.[28] Further, in response to the opposition’s demands for an economic stimulus package, the Conservatives changed their plan to one in which a federal budget would be presented on January 27, 2009, instead of late February or early March. However, despite these concessions, the Liberals still indicated that they intended to present their motion of non-confidence on December 8.[29]

The government then cancelled its initial opposition day, which was originally to be held on December 1, to avert the threatened vote of non-confidence,[30] meaning the earliest the coalition could possibly take office would be following a vote on a Liberal motion of non-confidence or on a supply motion put forth by the government, both scheduled for December 8, 2008.[31] On November 30, the Conservatives released a secretly recorded private NDP conference call in which Jack Layton indicated that the groundwork for assuring the Bloc’s participation “was done a long time ago.”[20] The NDP said in reaction that they would consider pressing criminal charges and alleged that Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) John Duncan received the invitation to participate by mistake,[21] in place of NDP MP Linda Duncan, who had “a similar email address.”[32] However, it does not constitute a wiretap crime under the Criminal Code of Canada if someone is invited to participate in a conference call and then releases the recording publicly.[33]

The possible change of government was debated during Question Period,[34] and the Conservatives aired radio and television advertisements contending that “a leader whose party captured just 25% of the vote in the October 14 election doesn’t have a legitimate mandate to govern.”[35] In anticipation of the Prime Minister’s visit to the Governor General, Harper’s office also organised protests outside of the viceroy’s residence, while Baird said that “Conservatives would go over the head of Parliament and of the Governor General.”[36] The revenue minister, Jean-Pierre Blackburn, said “It’s a kind of coup d’état,”[37] while Environment Minister Jim Prentice declared the coalition to be “irresponsible and it is undemocratic.”[37] Echoing Prentice’s sentiment, Harper insisted that the government “will use all legal means to resist this undemocratic seizure of power.”[37]

[edit]The role of the Governor General

Further information: Governor General of Canada > Role

The Governor General of Canada at the time of the dispute, Michaëlle Jean

Governor General Michaëlle Jean stated that “what is happening right now is part of the possibilities in our democratic system and I think that people can be reassured that, as I turn to what is happening, I am myself looking at my constitutional duties.”[38] Jean had three possible actions to pursue during her meeting with the prime minister on December 4, 2008: dissolve parliament, prorogue parliament, or ask him to resign and invite the opposition parties to form a government.

The media looked to the two previous occasions when the reserve powers of the governor general were used in respect to declining the advice of the prime minister: The first was in 1896, when Charles Tupper refused to resign as prime minister following his party’s loss in the election of that year and Governor General the Earl of Aberdeen refused to make several appointments, forcing Tupper to relinquish office. The second was in 1926, during the King-Byng Affair, when Prime MinisterWilliam Lyon Mackenzie King, already in minority government and having lost two votes that suggested he was likely to lose a third vote—one on a confidence question—asked Governor General the Viscount Byng of Vimy to dissolve parliament. Byng refused on the grounds that parliament should sit for a reasonable period before a new election may be called, and then only if members of parliament are demonstrably unable to work together to form an alternate government.[39] One view held that, in applying the constitutional conventions relied upon by Byng to the matters in 2008, Jean would have been obliged to deny a request to dissolve parliament within less than six months of the previous election,[39] unless Harper had a valid reason consistent with Commonwealth constitutional history. However, the situation in 2008 was not identical that which pertained in 1926, and so the precedent may not have been directly applicable; in the 1925 election, Arthur Meighenhad emerged as the plurality seat winner and the Liberals had suffered an electoral rebuff, with King losing his own parliamentary riding. Although Byng had suggested he resign immediately, King and his cabinet struggled on with Progressive Party support.[40] In 2008, the Tories were in an electoral ascendancy while the Liberals suffered one of their heaviest defeats. In addition, former Governor-General of New Zealand Sir Michael Hardie Boys expressed the opinion that Byng had been in error in not re-appointing King as prime minister on the defeat of Meighen in the vote of confidence.[41]


[edit]Dissolution of parliament

Peter H. Russell, a professor emeritus of political science at the University of Toronto, suggested that if Harper had sought a dissolution, the governor general would have had to consider carefully the reasonableness of the request. In Russell’s view, the viceroy’s primary concern is to protect parliamentary democracy and a dissolution of parliament would have necessitated an election only two months after the preceding one; repeated short term elections are not healthy for the system. In such a case, with a reasonably viable coalition available, Jean might then refuse Harper’s request for dissolution (requiring Harper to resign under constitutional precedent), and commission Dion to form a government.[42] Former governor generalAdrienne Clarkson wrote in her memoirs, Heart Matters, that she would have allowed the then prime minister, Paul Martin, a dissolution of parliament only after at least six months following the 2004 election; “To put the Canadian people through an election before six months would have been irresponsible,” she wrote, especially considering that she had received a letter co-signed by then opposition leader Stephen Harper, NDP leader Jack Layton, and Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe, asking her to consider letting them attempt to form a government without an election if the Liberal government should fall.[43][44]

Maclean’s columnist Andrew Coyne noted that, while a coalition government is neither unconstitutional nor illegitimate, there are several concerns that the governor general must address in considering installing such a government. As the coalition appeared volatile, its permanence or lack thereof would be a factor, as well as the possibility of creating a prolonged period of instability and uncertainty. Coyne also noted that the opposition parties’ plan was an extreme application of the traditional parliamentary prerogative to choose a government; that is, defeating an established government so soon after an election and replacing it with a likely unstable one.[45]

[edit]Prorogation of parliament

See also: Prorogation in Canada

The option of prorogation (or discontinuing the session of parliament without dissolving it[46][47]) presented various possible scenarios: One was a long-term prorogation, lasting up to a legal maximum of one year,[48] while another was a short prorogation period lasting a few weeks to a few months. Each would delay any parliamentary activity, including the registering of a motion of non-confidence, and the Conservative government would therefore continue, though without new funding, which requires parliamentary approval. After discussions with the Governor General, Harper’s requested prorogation would suspend parliament until January 26, 2009, with the Cabinet scheduled to present the budget the following day. On December 3, Dion wrote to the Governor General with his opinion that she must refuse a prorogation as, in his opinion, it would be an abuse of power denying the right of the legislature to give or withhold its confidence in the government. He also suggested that the government had already, in effect, lost the confidence of the house and that she could therefore no longer accept Harper’s advice as her prime minister.[49]

Constitutional scholar C.E.S. Franks of Queen’s University suggested that the Governor General could have agreed to prorogue parliament, though on the condition that the government only manage day-to-day affairs until parliament was reconvened; the Governor General would not approve orders-in-council requiring Cabinet decisions, meaning that the government could not undertake any major policy initiatives, much like the way governments govern during an election campaign. However, a prime minister asking for prorogation when facing an imminent confidence vote, as well a governor general refusing or implementing conditions on such a request, would all be unprecedented in Canadian history;[50] “there is no precedent whatsoever in Canada and probably in the Commonwealth,” Franks stated.[51]Constitutional scholar and former advisor to governors general Ted McWhinney said that the Governor General would have no choice but to follow the Prime Minister’s advice if asked for a prorogation, though the Prime Minister would have to explain to the electorate why he had advised this particular course.[52]

Former governor general and NDP politician Edward Schreyer stated that if the Conservative government were to lose a vote of confidence, Michaëlle Jean would have no choice but to offer the coalition the opportunity to govern. He also said that prorogation would be a difficult judgement call and said that a short prorogation might be reasonable as long as it wasn’t “used in the longer term as a means of evading, avoiding and thwarting the expression of the parliamentary will” by avoiding a confidence vote.[53]

In 1873, during the 2nd Canadian parliament, Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald asked Governor General the Earl of Dufferin to prorogue parliament in order to stop the work of a committee investigating Macdonald’s involvement in the Pacific Scandal. While the Governor General did reluctantly prorogue parliament, he limited it to a period of ten weeks. When parliament returned, Macdonald was censured and had to resign.[54]

[edit]Leadup to the Governor General’s decision


[edit]Leaders’ addresses to the nation on December 3

Both Harper and Dion addressed the nation on December 3, 2008, with televised statements broadcast on Canada’s major television networks. Harper’s five minute pre-recorded statement, televised nationally in English and French at 7 pm Eastern Time (ET),[55] outlined the steps the government had taken to address the economic crisis, while also attacking the Liberals for forming a coalition with the separatist Bloc Québécois. Harper said: “at a time of global economic instability, Canada’s government must stand unequivocally for keeping the country together. At a time like this, a coalition with the separatists cannot help Canada. And the opposition does not have the democratic right to impose a coalition with the separatists they promised voters would never happen.”[56] The press noted that while he used the word sovereigntist in the French version of his speech, Harper used separatist in English.[57]

The networks also agreed to air a response from Dion, which aired around 7:30 pm ET;[55] in it, Dion attacked the Conservatives, stating they did not have a plan to weather the economic crisis, and he claimed that Canadians did not want another election, instead preferring that parliament work together during this time. “Within one week, a new direction will be established, a tone and focus will be set. We will gather with leaders of industry and labour to work, unlike the Conservatives, in a collaborative, but urgent manner to protect jobs.”[58] This statement, intended to air immediately following Harper’s, was late in arriving to the networks and was of low video quality, prompting the party to apologize; The Globe and Mail reported on December 5 that Dion’s chief of staff had bypassed the normal in-house Liberal shop, instead retaining an outside consultant to produce the video on short notice. CBC Television stayed on the air past 7:30 pm to show Dion’s statement, cutting into its regularly scheduled programming, and network anchorman Peter Mansbridge, speaking later that night on the newscast The National, compared the quality of Dion’s video to YouTube. CTV Television Network, which had already signed off its special broadcast before Dion’s statement arrived, was met with complaints both that the network had ignored the Liberals and that Dion had snubbed the network. CTV commentator Robert Fife stated that the New Democrats and Bloc Québécois were “angry” with the quality of Dion’s address, elaborating that it had undermined the credibility of the coalition.[59] Public statements also came from the Bloc and NDP leaders: Layton unsuccessfully requested his own airtime and had to share with Dion, although he later addressed Canadians live on the national news channels where he said “tonight, only one party stands in the way of a government that actually works for Canadians… Instead of acting on these ideas… Mr. Harper delivered a partisan attack.”[60] Duceppe said “Stephen Harper showed a serious and worrisome lack of judgment by putting his party’s ideology before the economy.”[60]

[edit]Immediate reaction

In the nine predominantly English-speaking provinces, polls showed the idea of a coalition was unpopular. Strongest support for the coalition came from Canada’s east coast and Quebec, while the strongest opposition was in Alberta, where people feared being politically marginalized by the four eastern-based opposition leaders.[61][62] It was speculated that had the coalition taken power from the Conservatives, it would revive western alienation, with some suggesting the formation of a western-based separatist party to counter the Bloc Québécois.[61] Anti-coalition rally organizers, however, emphasized that their opposition was to the Bloc’s associations with the coalition, not Quebecers in general (despite the fact that the Bloc’s would be a ‘supporter’ of the coalition, not a partner along with NDP or Liberal).[63] On December 2, 2008, the day after the three opposition parties signed the accord, the Canadian dollar dropped slightly. There were some speculation that markets would react negatively to the potential instability of a coalition government that required the support of a separatist party.[64]

At the same time, the Conservative attacks on the coalition may have cost the party support in Quebec, as Quebecers “tend to view sovereignist parties as legitimate political formations”;[65] Antonia Maioni, head of the Institute for the Study of Canada at McGill University, stated that “[Harper] is portraying not only the Bloc Québécois but Quebecers in general as being a threat to national unity in Canada.”[66]Dion defended the coalition accord, saying that “fellow Quebecers who believe in separation are more likely to be reconciled with Canada if we work with them than if we marginalize them”.[67] Kelly McParland criticized Dion, a staunch federalist and the author of the Clarity Act, for taking part in negotiations with the Bloc.[68][69]


[edit]Other reactions

Statements regarding the upset in Ottawa came from provincial premiers, both past and present: Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, who originally started the ABC campaign, stated that he would remain neutral on this issue and that he would work with whomever was prime minister;[70] British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell spoke out against the coalition, stating that if their gamble fails, Canada’s economic worries will become significantly worse as a result;[71] Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach urged federal party leaders to take a time out and hold off the non-confidence vote until the new year so a federal budget can be introduced;[72] and former Quebec premier Jacques Parizeau told Le Journal de Montréal that the deal was an “impressive victory”, showing how powerful the Bloc Québécois is in federal politics.[73]

Quebec Premier Jean Charest, a federalist and former leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party, condemned the “anti-sovereigntist rhetoric” of the prime minister,[73] emphasizing that the Bloc MPs had been legitimately elected by Quebecers, and stating: “I live in a society in which people can be sovereigntists or federalists, but they respect each other. The same thing should prevail in the federal parliament.”[74] He also accused Parti Québécois leader Pauline Marois of using the ensuing discussion about the coalition to attempt to build sovereigntist momentum.[73]

Political satirist and commentator Rick Mercer wrote, “The drama that played out this week was many things: unimaginable, embarrassing and, yes, it made our parliamentary system look like a laughingstock. However, this situation was not, as Mr. Harper insisted, undemocratic, illegal or un-Canadian.”[36] The editorial board of The Globe and Mail echoed Mercer’s sentiment, pointing out that Harper’s statements on the legality of the coalition were “knowingly erroneous” and,[27] in June, 2012, Peter H. Russell said the Conservative’s attacks on the legitimacy of the coalition proposal were “deliberately misleading” and that the notion that “a multiparty government must be approved by voters beforehand is ‘absolutely B.S.'”[75]

[edit]The Governor General prorogues parliament

Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General of Canada, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with The Queen’s representative, Michaëlle Jean, on December 4, 2008

On December 2, it was announced that Harper’s plan was to ask the Governor General to prorogue parliament delaying a confidence vote until the new year.[76] The coalition leadership sent a letter to Jean—who, at the time, was abroad on a state visit to various European countries—informing her of the events, upon the receipt of which, Jean announced that she would cut her trip short and return to Ottawa “in light of the current political situation in Canada.”[35] Harper visited the Governor General at Rideau Hall, at approximately 9:30 am ET, on December 4. After consulting with the Prime Minister and other advisors for more than two hours, Jean granted Harper’s request and parliament was prorogued until January 26,[77][78] 2009, with the Conservatives scheduled to announce the budget the following day.[79][80] Near the end of her tenure as vicereine, Jean revealed to the Canadian Press that the two hour delay in giving her decision was partly to “send a message—and for people to understand that this warranted reflection.”[81][82] She later stated in an interview on The Hour that “I was in a position where I could have said no… And the decision had really to, in my mind, to be in the best interests, really, of the country, looking at all of the circumstances. And I have no regrets.”[75]

Peter Hogg, a constitutional expert from whom Governor General Michaëlle Jean sought advice

It was also at the same time said by Peter H. Russell, one of the constitutional experts from whom Jean sought advice, that Canadians ought not regard the Governor General’s decision to grant Harper’s request as an automatic rubber stamp; Russell disclosed that Jean granted the prorogation on two conditions: parliament would reconvene soon and, when it did, the Cabinet would produce a passable budget. This, Russell said, set a precedent that would prevent future prime ministers from advising the prorogation of parliament “for any length of time for any reason.”[83] He in 2012 also speculated that, though it was likely not “an overriding factor”, Jean may have been concerned that, should she refuse Harper’s advice, the vote of non-confidence proceeded and succeeded, and a new coalition Cabinet was installed, the Conservative Party would launch a public campaign painting the new government and, by extention, the actions of the Governor General as illigitimate, creating “a crisis of confidence in Canada’s political system.”Peter Hogg disagreed with Russell’s supposition.[75]

Most scholars indicated that the privacy of the meeting between Harper and Jean follows “the tradition of regal discretion [going] back centuries, to the era when Britain’s Parliament was only a minor branch of government”;[84] the practice protects the viceroy’s necessary non-partisan nature.[85] Lorne Sossin, professor at the University of Toronto and a constitutional law expert, offered a counter-opinion, stating that “it is simply not acceptable to have a closed door at Rideau Hall at moments like this,”[86] citing that transparency is a necessity in democracy. Joe Comartin, NDP MP for Windsor-Tecumseh, suggested that such decisions should be made by the Chief Justice of Canada after a hearing in open court.[86]

Andrew Dreschel of the Hamilton Spectator stated proroguing parliament was the right move, imposing a “cooling-off period on the sweaty rhetoric and dank distortions that have been steaming up the political spectrum”. MP Bruce Stanton said the suspension of parliament until late January “was perhaps the last tool in our basket to be able to allow parliamentarians to take a step back”.[87][88][89] Before Russell revealed the conditions Jean placed on her acceptance of Harper’s advice, there was some concern that Jean’s decision may have set a precedent for a prime minister may seek prorogation or dissolution when confronting a potential vote of non-confidence.[90] Nelson Wiseman, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said the following of Harper’s advice “has been a blow to parliamentary democracy in Canada” and Helen Forsey,[90] daughter of Eugene Forsey, claimed that Jean’s granting of prorogation was a shameful encouragement of “flagrantly subversive behaviour by a Prime Minister” and that, had he still been alive, the senior Forsey’s “denunciations would have been ringing from the rooftops.”[39] Margaret Wente at the Globe and Mail opined that the Governor General was the only person who emerged from the situation with any gained respect.[91]


In his book Harperland, published in late 2010, columnist Lawrence Martin quoted Kory Teneycke, former director of communication for the Office of the Prime Minister, as saying that, in the days preceding Harper’s meeting with the Governor General, the option of appealing to The Queen was considered, should Jean decline prorogation. Such a series of events would have been a first in Canadian history. Constitutional scholar Ned Franks said to The Globe and Mail in September, 2010, that The Queen would likely have refused to intervene in such circumstances.[82]


On December 4, 2008, after the prorogation, Dion hinted that the Liberals could support the Conservative budget, but only if it represented a “monumental change.” Layton and Duceppe remained committed to their proposed coalition and toppling the Harper government,[92] with Layton demanding that the Conservatives provide affordable housing and childcare programs alongside subsidies for struggling industries.[93][94] Liberal MP Jim Karygiannis said that the coalition would not survive when parliament resumed, while others in his party suggested working with the Conservatives on the economy.[95]

[edit]Liberal party reaction

After the Governor General prorogued parliament, there were questions within the Liberal Party regarding the future of Dion’s leadership and the coalition. In a caucus meeting held the same day of the prorogation, Dion was criticized for sacrificing the party’s federalist principles; for disallowing dissent once the coalition accord was presented to caucus; and for the amateur, out-of-focus video of his address to the nation which undermined public support for the coalition.[96][97] Former deputy prime minister John Manley asked that Dion resign immediately, saying it was incomprehensible that the public would accept Dion as prime minister after rejecting him a few weeks earlier in the general election. Manley also said that a leader was needed “whose first job is to rebuild the Liberal party rather than leading a coalition with the NDP.”

Michael Ignatieff

Bob Rae

Michael Ignatieff
Bob Rae

Several other insiders advocated moving up the date of the party leadership vote, rather than have Dion remain leader for either a potential election or coalition, while leadership contenders Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae both agreed that Dion had to quit immediately.[95] Dion initially scheduled his resignation for the party’s leadership convention in May 2009, but on December 8, 2008, he announced that he would step down upon the selection of his successor.[98]

Bob Rae, who helped to persuade the Liberal caucus of the power-sharing deal,[99] took over as the coalition’s spokesman and planned to travel throughout the country to promote the coalition. By contrast, Michael Ignatieff, the frontrunner to succeed Dion, was said to be uncomfortable with the idea of sharing power with the NDP and receiving committed support from the Bloc Québécois. Ignatieff said that there would be a “coalition if necessary, but not necessarily a coalition,” noting that the coalition served a useful purpose by keeping the Conservatives in check,[100] but warned that the Liberals should look over the budget before deciding.[101][102][103][104] After the withdrawal of his two rivals,[105][106] Ignatieff was left as the sole declared leadership candidate, so he was appointed interim leader, and his position was ratified at the May 2009 convention.[107]


On December 12, Ignatieff met with Harper to discuss the budget, with their spokesmen describing it as a “cordial” meeting.[108] Layton and Duceppe remained committed to ousting the Harper government,[109][110] pledging that the NDP would vote against the Conservative budget regardless of what it contained.[111] Layton urged Ignatieff’s Liberals to topple the Conservatives before the shelf life of the coalition expired; constitutional experts said that four months after the last election, if the government fell, the Governor General would likely grant the Prime Minister’s request to dissolve parliament instead of inviting the coalition.[112]

On January 28, 2009, the Liberals agreed to support the budget as long as it included regular accountability reports, and the Conservatives accepted this amendment. This ended the possibility of the coalition, so Layton said “Today we have learned that you can’t trust Mr. Ignatieff to oppose Mr. Harper. If you oppose Mr. Harper and you want a new government, I urge you to support the NDP.”[2]

[edit]Public response


This anti-coalition rally in Calgary was one of several demonstrations held across Canada both in support of and opposition to the coalition’s attempts at gaining control of parliament

The pro-coalition rally in Toronto was held in Nathan Phillips Square, at the foot ofToronto City Hall, and featured Stéphane Dion and Jack Layton as speakers

An Angus Reid Strategies poll on this subject conducted on December 1 and 2, 2008, consisting of online interviews with 1,012 Canadian adults, and with a reportedmargin of error of 3.1%, showed that 40% of respondents agreed with the statement “The Conservative party does not deserve to continue in government,” while 35% agreed with “The Conservative party deserves to continue in government,” and 25% were “not sure.” On the question “Should the opposition parties get together and topple the Conservative minority government headed by Stephen Harper?”, 41% responded No, 36% Yes, and 23% not sure. If the government was defeated in a no-confidence vote, 37% of respondents would support a coalition of opposition parties taking power, 32% favoured holding a new election, 7% favoured an accord rather than a coalition among opposition parties, and 24% were not sure.[113]

A Léger Marketing poll of 2,226 people, conducted on behalf of Sun Media and released on December 4, showed a regional split on what should happen if the Harper government fell. Nationally, 43% of respondents preferred a new election be held, compared to 40% who favoured allowing the coalition to govern. In Western Canada, however, respondents were sharply opposed to the coalition, led by Albertans, who responded 71% in favour of new elections. Quebec showed the highest level of support for the coalition, with 58% preferring it to a new election. Ontario was split, with 43% preferring an election compared to 39% supporting the coalition.[114]This poll also showed that 60% of Canadians were concerned that the Bloc Québécois would hold the balance of power in a coalition, compared to 35% that were not concerned, with the majority of respondents in every region, excluding Quebec, expressing concern. 34% of those polled argued that the Conservatives were best able to handle the economic crisis, compared to 18% for the coalition. 14% felt the Liberals individually were best prepared, 7% felt the NDP individually were the best choice, and 2% felt the Bloc Québécois were best.[115]

An EKOS Research Associates poll of 2,536 people, conducted on behalf of CBC and released on December 4, showed that if an election were held the next day, the Conservatives would have received 44% of the vote, up from 37.6%; the Liberals 24%, down from 26%; the New Democrats 14.5%, down from 18.2%; the Bloc 9%, down from 10.5%; and the Green Party 8%, up from 4.5%. 37% of respondents (including the majority of Conservative voters) expressed support in proroguing parliament, while 28% (including a majority of Liberal and Bloc voters, and a near majority of NDP voters) supported the proposed coalition taking power within the next few weeks, with 19% supporting an election. Additionally, 47% of respondents thought that Harper’s Conservative government would better manage the financial crunch, versus 34% in support of the Dion-led coalition. Furthermore, 48% of respondents (including the majority of Liberal, NDP, and Green voters, but only 41% of Conservative voters) expressed confidence in the Governor General’s ability to make decisions regarding the impasse.[116]

An Ipsos-Reid poll suggested that if an election had been held on December 5, the Conservatives would have received 46% of the vote, enough to have easily formed a majority government. The poll also showed Liberal support had dropped to 23% from the 26.2% they received in the election, and New Democrat support fell to 13% from 18.2%. Also telling was that 56% of those polled said they would rather go to another election, rather than let the coalition govern.[117]


Public rallies, both in favour of and against the coalition, continued to be held a number of days after the prorogation, particularly on the afternoon of December 6. Besides the aforementioned that was attended by both Dion and Layton, other gatherings included one in Halifax, with Conservative MP Gerald Keddy attending;[118]one in Calgary, at which Conservative MP Jason Kenney addressed the crowd;[119] and at Queen’s Park in Toronto, where Conservative MP Peter Kent spoke alongside John Tory, leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. The rallies, all together, attracted over ten thousand, with the largest assembly being in Ottawa, with an estimated attendance of 4,000. Calgary had an estimated 2,500 and Toronto an estimated 1,500.

[edit]Online activity

Web users across the political spectrum came out in force,[120][121] leaving thousands of posts on news websites, blogs, and news articles;[122] on December 1, The Globe and Mail website had over 4,500 comments posted on its articles related to the political dispute.[123] This motion was in addition to the multiple specialized websites that were launched during the upset,[124] and using the Internet to promote rallies and protests in the hopes of voicing their opinion.[125]

2010 Canada anti-prorogation protests

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Demonstrators on Parliament Hill inOttawa.

Protesters holding picket signs in Toronto.

On 23 January 2010 there were numerous protests opposing the prorogation of the 40th Canadian Parliament. The prorogation had occurred a month earlier on 30 December 2009 on the constitutional advice of Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper and was officially carried out by Governor General Michaëlle Jean. Protests were held in over 60 cities and towns[1][2] in Canada, and internationally in New York City, San Francisco, Dallas, London, Oman,[3] Brussels, Amsterdam, The Hague and Costa Rica.[4] The protests and rallies attracted approximately 21,000[5] participants, including many who had joined a group on Facebook, known as the “Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament” (CAPP).[6][7] At the January 23 rallies in Ottawa and Toronto, Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff, New Democratic Party (NDP) leader Jack Layton, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, and Member of Parliament Bob Rae spoke against the prorogation.[8]

See also: Prorogation in Canada


A group of protesters arrived outside theC.D. Howe Institute in downtown Toronto on January 20 to voice their discontent withStephen Harper and his prorogation of parliament.

See also: 2008–2009 Canadian parliamentary dispute and Canadian Afghan detainee issue

The first session of the 40th Canadian Parliament opened on November 18, 2008, after the Conservative Party, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, won a strengthened minority in that year’s election, increasing their seat count by 16. The leaders of the parties in opposition—the Liberal Party, NDP, and the Bloc Québécois—soon initiated talk of voting non-confidence in the government and offering themselves as a coalition government to Governor General Michaëlle Jean. However, Stephen Harper delayed the confidence vote scheduled for December 1 and advised the Governor General to prorogue parliament from December 4, 2008, to January 26, 2009. The opposition coalition dissolved shortly after, with the Conservatives winning a Liberal supported confidence vote on January 29, 2009.

On December 30, 2009, Prime Minister Harper announced that he had counseled the Governor General to prorogue parliament throughout the February 12–28 2010 Winter Olympics, until March 3, 2010, and Jean signed the proclamation later that day, granting his request, as provided for by constitutional convention.[9][10] The prorogation eliminated 22 sitting days from the Parliamentary schedule.[11] According to Harper’s spokesman, the Prime Minister sought this prorogation to consult with Canadians about the economy.[9] However, the move triggered immediate condemnation from Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale, who labelled the Conservative government’s move an “almost despotic” attempt to muzzle parliamentarians amid controversy over the Afghan detainees affair.[9] In an interview withCBC News, Prince Edward Island Liberal Member of Parliament Wayne Easter accused the Prime Minister of “shutting democracy down”.[12][13] During this time, PMO spokesman Dimitri Soudas pointed out to the media that the Prime Minister was at work in Ottawa while the Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was off at his vacation home in the south of France.[14]


[edit]Events prior to the January protests

On January 5, 132 political scientists signed a letter condemning the prorogation and called for electoral reform.[15][16][17] This letter was the work of Fair Vote Canada, a non-partisan organization. Among the 132 political scientists signing the statement were 10 professors emeriti, including Meyer Brownstone, Peter H. Russell, and John S. Saul; the President-elect of the Canadian Political Science Association(CPSA); six former presidents of CPSA, including John Meisel and Alan Cairns; the current Secretary General of the International Political Science Association (IPSA); and a former Secretary General of IPSA. [16]

On January 5, in an interview on CBC TV The National, Mr Harper said that prorogation was a “routine” move to allow the government to adjust its budget due on March 4.[18] His spokesman stated that the 63-day gap between sessions was less than the average prorogation of 151 days since 1867. However, in the three decades prior to his 2009 prorogation the average was just 22 days.[15]

On January 7, the British weekly news publication The Economist published two articles on the issue, both generally critical of the prorogation. One article stated that “Mr Harper’s move looks like naked self-interest.”[19] The other article stated that Harper has, “given the opposition, which is divided and fumbling, an opportunity.”[15]

Opposition leaders stated that Mr Harper’s real reason for the prorogation was to end an embarrassing debate on the government’s alleged complicity in the torture of Afghan detainees, and in particular to avoid complying with a parliamentary motion to hand over all documents relevant to those charges. They also stated that the prime minister wanted to name new senators and then reconstitute the Senate’s committees to reflect the Conservatives’ additional representation, something that could not be done if Parliament was merely adjourned. Ned Franks, a historian and veteran political scientist said that no previous prime minister has prorogued the legislature “in order to avoid the kind of things that Harper apparently wants to avoid,”[15]

The initial organization of the January 23 rallies started with a group on the social networking website Facebook, called “Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament” in early January 2010, led by Christopher White, an anthropology student at the University of Alberta.[20][21][22] The actual coordination of the rallies was organized by a secondary Facebook group, called “Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament-Rally for the Cause!”, which was founded by Shilo Davis, who acted as the National Rally Coordinator in collaboration with Chris White and his group.[23][24] By January 9, eleven days after the prorogation, it had gained 113,000 members.[25] The group gained public support from Michael Ignatieff.[26]

An EKOS poll released January 7 found that Canadians were nearly twice as likely to oppose the December 30, 2010 prorogation than support it.[25]

A poll, done by Angus Reid prior to January 9, found that 38 per cent of Canadians believed that Harper used the prorogation to curtail the Afghan detainee inquiry.[25] On January 11 Ignatieff again stated that the prorogation was to avoid responding to the Afghan detainee issue, and the issue of climate change in relation to the Copenhagen Conference in December.[27]

Prior to January 20, comedian Rick Mercer ranted on the Rick Mercer Report, “…Now polls never tell the full story but this much is certain: whenever the party in power drops 15 points in 15 days, you can be assured of one thing – someone in charge just did something really stupid.”[26] By January 21, the Liberal Party and the Conservative party were in a virtual tie.[28]

By the time of the January 23 rallies, the Facebook group had over 210,000 members.[20][21][22]


[edit]January protests

On January 20, 2010, a rally of approximately 60 protesters gathered to greet Prime Minister Harper as he visited the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto.[29] On that same day NDP leader Jack Layton called for limits to prorogation saying that his party will call for legislative changes that would require a majority vote of MPs for the prorogation of Parliament.[30]

Three days later the main planned rallies gathered across Canada. The rally in Toronto at Yonge-Dundas Square was the largest in Canada, attracting over 6,000 demonstrators, while the one in Ottawa involved close to 3,000.[31][32] The largest per capita turnout was found in Victoria, where 1,500 people rallied under sunny skies.[33] Protesters in many ridings with Conservative Members of Parliament urged the Party’s members back to work.[34] In Regina, three supporters of Harper counter-protested, and were booed by the main crowd.[6] Protesters determined that Stephen Harper was using voter apathy to his advantage while proroguing parliament.[35] At the Ottawa rally, Michael Ignatieff said that “This is a demonstration that shows that Canadians understand their democracy, care for their democracy, and if necessary will fight for their democracy. This demonstration does not belong to the politicians of any party, it belongs to the Canadian people”, while announcing that the Liberal MPs would be back to work on January 25, the original date for the end of prorogation, to hold public meetings.[6] New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton also called for limits to prorogation.[6] During the Toronto rally, Bob Raecommented that he attended “because it’s a chance for me to join others who agree that Mr. Harper made a terrible decision.”[32] Rae has subsequently been criticized for his controversial use of the power to prorogue when he was Premier of Ontario.[36]