OUR UNIQUE GOVERNMENT
Canada is globally known as a strong and free country that has inherited the oldest continuous constitutional monarchy in the world. This has given Canadians a certain sense of pride in their unique identity.
The birth of Canada as we know it was on July 1, 1867, and is also known as Confederation. The men who established Canada are called the Fathers of Confederation.
The head of government in Canada is the Prime Minister who is elected by Canadians through a fair and free election. The Prime Minister directs the governing of the country. Sir John Alexander Macdonald, a Father of Confederation, became Canada’s first Prime Minister.
As a constitutional monarchy we have a Head of State who is a Sovereign (Queen or King), who reigns in accordance with the Constitution: the rule of law. The Sovereign is a non-partisan part of Parliament and mainly serves as a symbol of our citizenship and allegiance and our constitutional freedom. The Sovereign is represented in Canada by the Governor General.
In each province, the Premier directs the governing of the province. A role similar to that of the Prime Minister in the federal government. In the three territories, the Commissioner plays a ceremonial role in representing the federal government. Our three branches of government — the Executive, Legislative and Judicial — work together in helping secure the rights and freedoms of Canadians.
Modern day Canada is home to millions of migrants from all over the world who can enter our country through a variety of different immigration options. Canada is structured to be open and welcoming to immigrants and to present migrants with good quality of life, opportunities to grow, and a pathway to citizenship.
RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES OF EVERY CANADIAN CITIZEN
As Canadian citizens we carry responsibilities and rights that are secured by Canadian laws and that reflect our shared traditions, identity, and values. Our tradition of liberty which is also known as the Great Charter of Freedom gives every Canadian citizen the following rights:
- Freedom of conscience and religion
- Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of speech and of the press
- Freedom of peaceful assembly
- Freedom of association
These rights come with responsibilities. Our responsibilities as Canadian citizens include the following:
- Obeying the law: One of Canada’s founding principles is the rule of law. No person or group is above the law.
- Taking responsibility for oneself and one’s family financially. Canadians take pride in contributing to Canada’s prosperity by working hard and keeping alive the Canadian work values, personal dignity, and self-respect.
- Serving on a jury: You are legally required to serve the judiciary system when asked to do so. This is a privilege that makes the justice system work equally and in fairness to everyone.
- Responsibility to vote: Our voting responsibility comes from our right to vote in the first place. Canadians are responsible to vote in federal, provincial or territorial and local elections. You are responsible to vote if you are:
- a Canadian citizen; and
- at least 18 years old on voting day; and
- on the voters’ list
- Being a helping member of the community: Volunteer to freely donate your time to help others in need. There are many ways to serve your community. From volunteering at your child’s school to volunteering at your local charity or shelter or encouraging newcomers to integrate. This is also an excellent way to develop social skills and make friends and contacts.
- Protecting our heritage and environment: Canadian citizens all play a crucial role in protecting Canada’s natural, cultural, and architectural heritage. Every Canadian is responsible to minimize waste and pollution.
It is important for every Canadian to recognize their privileges that allow them to live in a healthy, safe, and free society. It is also important for us all to follow and fulfill our responsibilities as Canadians so we can ensure that next generations also get the same quality of life in a safe and free society.