Dominion of Canada
Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres (3.85 million square miles), making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern and western border with the United States, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
Indigenous peoples have continuously inhabited what is now Canada for thousands of years. Beginning in the 16th century, British and French expeditions explored and later settled along the Atlantic coast. As a consequence of various armed conflicts, France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763. 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 an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Canada is a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy in the Westminster tradition. The country's head of government is the prime minister—who holds office by virtue of their ability to command the confidence of the elected House of Commons—and is appointed by the governor general, representing the monarch, who serves as head of state. The country is a Commonwealth realm and is officially bilingual at the federal level. It ranks among the highest in international measurements of government transparency, civil liberties, quality of life, economic freedom, and education. It is one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, the product of large-scale immigration from many other countries. Canada's long and complex relationship with the United States has had a significant impact on its economy and culture.
A highly developed country, Canada has the 24th highest nominal per-capita income globally and the sixteenth-highest ranking in the Human Development Index. Its advanced economy is the eighth-largest in the world, relying chiefly upon its abundant natural resources and well-developed international trade networks. Canada is part of several major international and intergovernmental institutions or groupings including the United Nations, NATO, the G7, the Group of Ten, the G20, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Commonwealth of Nations, the Arctic Council, the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the Organization of American States.Etymology
The name Canada comes from a St. Lawrence Iroquoian word, kanata, meaning "village" or "settlement". In 1535, indigenous inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the word to direct French explorer Jacques Cartier towards the village of Stadacona. Cartier later used the word Canada to refer not only to that particular village, but also the entire area subject to Donnacona (the chief at Stadacona); by 1545, European books and maps had begun referring to this region as Canada.
From the early 17th century onwards, that part of New France that lay along the Saint Lawrence River and the northern shores of the Great Lakes was known as Canada. The area was later split into two British colonies, Upper Canada and Lower Canada. They were re-unified as the Province of Canada in 1841. Upon Confederation in 1867, the name Canada was adopted as the legal name for the new country, and Dominion (a term from Psalm 72:8) was conferred as the country's title. Combined, the term Dominion of Canada was in common usage until the 1950s. 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.
- European colonization
Europeans first arrived when Norse sailors (often referred to as Vikings) settled briefly at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around 1000; after the failure of that colony, there was no known further attempt at Canadian exploration until 1497, when Italian seafarer Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) explored Canada's Atlantic coast for England. Subsequently, between 1498 and 1521, various Portuguese mariners reconnoitered Eastern Canada and established fishing posts in the region. In 1534 Jacques Cartier explored Canada for France. French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in 1603 and established the first permanent European settlements at Port Royal in 1605 and Quebec City in 1608. Among French colonists of New France, Canadiens extensively settled the Saint Lawrence River valley and Acadians settled the present-day Maritimes, while French fur traders and Catholic missionaries explored the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay, and the Mississippi watershed to Louisiana. The French and Iroquois Wars broke out over control of the fur trade.
The English established fishing outposts in Newfoundland around 1610 and established the Thirteen Colonies to the south. A series of four Intercolonial Wars erupted between 1689 and 1763. Mainland Nova Scotia came under British rule with the Treaty of Utrecht (1713); the Treaty of Paris (1763) ceded Canada and most of New France to Britain after the Seven Years' War.
The Royal Proclamation (1763) carved the Province of Quebec out of New France and annexed Cape Breton Island to Nova Scotia. St. John's Island (now Prince Edward Island) became a separate colony in 1769. 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 and helped to fuel the American Revolution.
The Treaty of Paris (1783) recognized American independence and ceded territories south of the Great Lakes to the United States. Around 50,000 United Empire Loyalists fled the United States to Canada. 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 the province of Quebec) and English-speaking Upper Canada (later Ontario), granting each its own elected Legislative Assembly.
Canada (Upper and Lower) was the main front in the War of 1812 between the United States and the British Empire. Following the war, large-scale immigration to Canada from Britain and Ireland began in 1815. From 1825 to 1846, 626,628 European immigrants landed at Canadian ports. Between one-quarter and one-third of all Europeans who immigrated to Canada before 1891 died of infectious diseases. The timber industry surpassed the fur trade in economic importance in the early 19th century.
The desire for responsible government resulted in the aborted Rebellions of 1837. The Durham Report subsequently recommended responsible government and the assimilation of French Canadians into British culture. The Act of Union 1840 merged The Canadas into a united Province of Canada. Responsible government was established for all British North American provinces by 1849. 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). Canada launched a series of exploratory expeditions to claim Rupert's Land and the Arctic region.
- Confederation and expansion
Following several constitutional conferences, the Constitution Act, 1867 officially proclaimed Canadian Confederation, creating "one Dominion under the name of Canada" on July 1, 1867, with four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. 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. British Columbia and Vancouver Island (which had united in 1866) and the colony of Prince Edward Island joined the Confederation in 1871 and 1873, respectively. Prime Minister John A. Macdonald's Conservative government established a national policy of tariffs to protect nascent Canadian manufacturing industries.
To open the West, the government sponsored construction of three trans-continental 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. In 1898, after the Klondike Gold Rush in the Northwest Territories, the Canadian government created the Yukon Territory. Under Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, continental European immigrants settled the prairies, and Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905
- Early 20th century
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 battles of the war. Out of approximately 625,000 who served, about 60,000 were killed and another 173,000 were wounded. The Conscription Crisis of 1917 erupted when conservative Prime Minister Robert Borden brought in compulsory military service over the objection of French-speaking Quebecers. In 1919, Canada joined the League of Nations independently of Britain and, in 1931, the Statute of Westminster affirmed Canada's independence.
The Great Depression brought economic hardship all over Canada. In response, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in Alberta and Saskatchewan enacted many measures of a welfare state (as pioneered by Tommy Douglas) into the 1940s and 1950s. 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.
Canadian troops played important roles in the failed 1942 Dieppe Raid in France, the Allied invasion of Italy, the D-Day landings, the Battle of Normandy, and the Battle of the Scheldt in 1944. Canada provided asylum and protection for the monarchy of the Netherlands while that country was occupied, and is credited by the country for leadership and major contribution to its liberation from Nazi Germany. The Canadian economy boomed as industry manufactured military materiel for Canada, Britain, China, and the Soviet Union. Despite another Conscription Crisis in Quebec, Canada finished the war with one of the largest armed forces in the world and the second-wealthiest economy.
- Modern times
The Dominion of Newfoundland (now Newfoundland and Labrador), at the time equivalent in status to Canada and Australia as a Dominion, joined Canada in 1949. Canada's growth, combined with the policies of successive Liberal governments, led to the emergence of a new Canadian identity, marked by the adoption of the current Maple Leaf Flag in 1965, the implementation of official bilingualism (English and French) in 1969, and official multiculturalism in 1971. There was also the founding of socially democratic programmes, such as universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan, and Canada Student Loans, though provincial governments, particularly Quebec and Alberta, opposed many of these as incursions into their jurisdictions. 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 Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In 1999, Nunavut became Canada's third territory after a series of negotiations with the federal government.
At the same time, Quebec was undergoing profound social and economic changes through the Quiet Revolution, giving birth to a nationalist movement in the province and the more radical Front de libération du Québec (FLQ), whose actions ignited the October Crisis in 1970. A decade later, an unsuccessful referendum on sovereignty-association was held in 1980, after which attempts at constitutional amendment failed in 1990. A second referendum followed in 1995, in which sovereignty was rejected by a slimmer margin of just 50.6% to 49.4%. 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.
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; the École Polytechnique massacre in 1989, a university shooting targeting female students; and the Oka Crisis in 1990, the first of a number of violent confrontations between the government and Aboriginal groups. 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. It sent troops to Afghanistan in 2001, but declined to send forces to Iraq when the US invaded in 2003.
1 Ontario - 14,223,942
2 Quebec - 8,501,833
3 British Columbia - 5,000,879
4 Alberta - 4,262,635
5 Manitoba - 1,342,153
6 Saskatchewan - 1,132,505
7 Nova Scotia - 969,383
8 New Brunswick - 775,610
9 Newfoundland and Labrador - 510,550
10 Prince Edward Island - 154,331
11 Northwest Territories - 41,070
12 Yukon - 40,232
13 Nunavut - 36,858
14 New England - 15,116,205
15 Alaskan Territory - 731,545
Buddhist - 366,830 - 1%
Christian - 22,102,745 - 67%
Anglican - 1,631,845 - 5%
Baptist - 635,840 - 2%
Roman Catholic - 12,810,705 - 39%
Christian Orthodox - 550,690 - 2%
Lutheran - 478,185 - 1%
Pentecostal - 478,705 1%
Presbyterian - 472,385 - 1%
United Church - 2,007,610 - 6%
Other Christian - 3,036,785 - 9%
Hindu - 497,960 - 2%
Jewish - 329,500 - 1%
Muslim - 1,053,945 - 3%
Sikh - 454,965 - 1%
Traditional (Aboriginal) Spirituality - 64,940 - 0.2%
Other religions - 130,835 - 0.4%
No religious affiliation - 7,850,605 - 24%
- Foreign Relations
- Government and politics
Canada has strong democratic traditions upheld through a parliamentary government within the construct of constitutional monarchy, the monarchy of Canada being the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches and its authority stemming from the Canadian populace. The sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II, who also serves as head of state of 15 other Commonwealth countries and resides predominantly in the United Kingdom. As such, the Queen's representative, the Governor General of Canada (presently Michaëlle Jean), carries out most of the royal duties in Canada.
The direct participation of the royal and viceroyal figures in any of these areas of governance is limited, though; 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 headed by the Prime Minister of Canada (presently Stephen Harper), the head of government. 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 and the prime minister chooses the Cabinet. 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. The leader of the party with the second-most seats usually becomes the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition (presently Michael Ignatieff) and is part of an adversarial parliamentary system intended to keep the government in check.
Each Member of Parliament in the House of Commons is elected by simple majority 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. Members of the Senate, whose seats are apportioned on a regional basis, serve until age 75. Four parties had representatives elected to the federal parliament in the 2008 elections: the Conservative Party of Canada (governing party), the Liberal Party of Canada (the Official Opposition), the New Democratic Party (NDP), and the Bloc Québécois. 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. Canada's three territories also have legislatures, but these are not sovereign and have fewer constitutional responsibilities than the provinces and with some structural differences.
Canada is one of the world's wealthiest nations, with a high per-capita income, and it is a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the G8. It is one of the world's top ten trading nations. Canada is a mixed market, ranking above the U.S. on the Heritage Foundation's index of economic freedom and higher than most western European nations. The largest foreign importers of Canadian goods are the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan. In 2008, Canada's imported goods were worth over $442.9 billion, of which $280.8 billion was from the United States, $11.7 billion from Japan, and $11.3 billion from the United Kingdom. The country’s 2009 trade deficit totaled C$4.8 billion, compared with a C$46.9 billion surplus in 2008.
As of October 2009, Canada's national unemployment rate was 8.6%. Provincial unemployment rates vary from a low of 5.8% in Manitoba to a high of 17% in Newfoundland and Labrador. Canada's federal debt is estimated to be $566.7 billion for 2010–11, up from $463.7 billion in 2008–09. Canada’s net foreign debt rose by $40.6-billion to $193.8-billion in the first quarter of 2010. The combined federal and provincial government deficit in the 2009–10 fiscal year could reach of $100-billion, and the federal deficit is forecast to be C$49.2 billion in 2010–11.
In the past century, the growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy to a more industrial and urban one. Like other First World nations, the Canadian economy is dominated by the service industry, which employs about three quarters of Canadians. 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 important.
Canada is one of the few developed nations that are net exporters of energy. Atlantic Canada has vast offshore deposits of natural gas, and Alberta has large oil and gas resources. The immense Athabasca Oil Sands give Canada the world's second-largest oil reserves, behind Saudi Arabia.
Canada is one of the world's largest suppliers of agricultural products; the Canadian Prairies are one of the most important producers of wheat, canola, and other grains. Canada is the largest producer of zinc and uranium, and is a global source of many other natural resources, such as gold, nickel, aluminium, and lead. 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.
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