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


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