|Canada's Parliamentary system is modelled after the
one in Great Britain, but it has evolved in a somewhat
different direction due to Canada's federal nature.
Members of Parliament are elected from 301 geographically
based "constituencies" (also called
"ridings") from across the country. They are
seated in the House of Commons by party. Normally, except
in unusual circumstances of coalition, the party with the
most seats forms the government, and the one with the
second most seats is the official opposition. The
Cabinet, chosen from members of the governing party by
the Prime Minister, initiates most major legislation in
cooperation with the bureaucracy. Currently there are
five parties in the House and one independent member.
The Senate is a hybrid of the British House of Lords and the American Senate, but is more like the former. Senators are appointed by the Prime Minister and stay until age 75, regardless of which party is in government. Many Canadians, especially in the West, would like to see the Senate democratically elected.
© 1999 Richard McGuire