Canada, federated country of North America, bounded on the north by the Arctic Ocean; on the northeast by Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, which separate it from Greenland; on the east by the Atlantic Ocean; on the south by the United States; and on the west by the Pacific Ocean and Alaska. It was formerly known as the Dominion of Canada. Occupying all of North America north of the conterminous United States, except Alaska, Greenland, Saint - Pierre Island, and the Miquelon Islands, Canada is the world's second largest country, surpassed in size only by Russia. It includes many islands, notably the Canadian Arctic Islands (Arctic Archipelago) in the Arctic Ocean. Among the larger members of this group, which in aggregate area is about 1,424,500 sq km, are Baffin, Victoria, Ellesmere, Banks, Devon, Axel Heiberg, and Melville islands. Cape Columbia, a promontory of Ellesmere Island at latitude 83°06' north, is the northernmost point of Canada; the country's southernmost point is Middle Island in Lake Erie, at latitude 41°41' north. The easternmost and westernmost limits are delineated, respectively, by longitude 52°37' west, which lies along Cape Spear, Newfoundland, and longitude 141° west, which coincides with part of the Alaskan - Yukon frontier. Canada has a total area of 9,970,610 sq km, of which 755,180 sq km is covered by bodies of fresh water such as rivers and lakes, including those portions of the Great Lakes under Canadian jurisdiction.
Canada contains great reserves of natural resources, notably timber, petroleum, natural gas, metallic minerals, and fish. It is also an important manufacturing country, and its major cities, such as Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver, Ottawa (the country's capital), Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg are bustling centers of commerce and industry. Most of Canada's inhabitants live in the southern part of the country, and vast areas of the north are sparsely inhabited. The country is divided into ten provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Québec, Saskatchewan) and two territories (Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, Nunavut Territory). The name Canada is derived from the Iroquoian term "kanatta" meaning "village" or "community."

Land and Resources

The coast of the Canadian mainland, about 58,500 km in length, is extremely broken and irregular. Large bays and peninsulas alternate, and Canada has numerous coastal islands, in addition to the Arctic Archipelago, with a total insular coastline of some 185,290 km. Off the eastern coast the largest islands are Newfoundland, Cape Breton, Prince Edward, and Anticosti. Off the western coast, which is fringed with fjords, are Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands. Southampton Island, covering 41,214 sq km, and many smaller islands are in Hudson Bay, a vast inland sea in east central Canada.
Canada contains more lakes and inland waters than any other country in the world. In addition to the Great Lakes on the U.S. border (all partly within Canada except Lake Michigan), the country has 31 lakes or reservoirs of more than 1300 sq km in area. Largest among these lakes are Great Bear, Great Slave and Baker in the mainland Northwest Territories; Nettilling and Amadjuak on Baffin Island; Athabasca in Alberta and Saskatchewan; Wollaston in Saskatchewan; Reindeer in Saskatchewan and Manitoba; Winnipeg, Manitoba, Winnipegosis, and Southern Indian in Manitoba; Nipigon and Lake of the Woods in Ontario; Mistassini in Québec; and Smallwood Reservoir and Melville in Newfoundland.
Among the great rivers of Canada are the Saint Lawrence, draining the Great Lakes, and emptying into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence; the Ottawa and the Saguenay, the principal affluents of the Saint Lawrence; the Saint John, emptying into the Bay of Fundy, between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; the Saskatchewan, flowing into Lake Winnipeg, and the Nelson, flowing from this lake into Hudson Bay; the system formed by the Athabasca, Peace, Slave, and Mackenzie rivers, emptying into the Arctic Ocean; the upper course of the Yukon, flowing across Alaska into the Bering Sea; and the Fraser and the upper course of the Columbia, emptying into the Pacific Ocean.

Physiographic Regions

Excluding the Arctic Archipelago, five general physiographic regions are distinguishable in Canada: The Canadian Shield, Appalachian, Great Lakes, Saint Lawrence, Interior Plains, and Cordillera. The largest region, designated either as the Canadian Shield or the Laurentian Plateau, extends from Labrador to Great Bear Lake, from the Arctic Ocean to the Thousand Islands in the Saint Lawrence River, and into the United States west of Lake Superior and into northern New York. This region of ancient granite rock, sparsely covered with soil and deeply eroded by glacial action, comprises all of Labrador (the easternmost part of the mainland, which is part of the province of Newfoundland), most of Québec, northern Ontario, Manitoba, and most of the Northwest Territories, with Hudson Bay in the center.
Eastern Canada consists of the Appalachian region and the Great Lakes - Saint Lawrence lowlands. The former embraces Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, and the Gaspé Peninsula of Québec. This region is an extension of the Appalachian mountain system (continuations of the Green Mountains of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire) and of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The Great Lakes - Saint Lawrence lowlands region, covering an area of about 98,420 sq km in southern Québec and Ontario, is a generally level plain. This region includes the largest expanse of cultivable land in eastern and central Canada and most of the manufacturing industries of the nation.
Bordering the Canadian Shield on the west is the Interior Plains, an extension of the Great Plains of the United States. About 1300 km wide at the U.S. border, it narrows to about one - quarter of that size west of Great Bear Lake and widens again at the mouth of the Mackenzie River on the coast of the Arctic Ocean to about 500 km. Within the Interior Plains are the northeastern corner of British Columbia, most of Alberta, the southern half of Saskatchewan, and the southern third of Manitoba. This region contains the most fertile soil in Canada.
The fifth and westernmost region of Canada embraces the uplifts west of the Interior Plains. The region belongs to the Cordillera, the vast mountain system extending from the southernmost extremity of South America to westernmost Alaska. In Canada, the Cordillera has an average width of about 800 km. Part of western Alberta, much of British Columbia, the Inuvik Region and part of the Fort Smith Region of Northwest Territories, and practically all of Yukon Territory lie within this region. The eastern portion of the Cordillera in Canada consists of the Rocky Mountains and related ranges, including the Mackenzie, Franklin, and Richardson mountains. Mount Robson (3954 m) is the highest summit of the Canadian Rockies, and ten other peaks reach elevations of more than 3500 m. To the west of the Canadian Rockies is a region occupied by numerous isolated ranges, notably the Cariboo, Stikine, and Selkirk mountains, and a vast plateau region. Deep river valleys and extensive tracts of arable land are the chief features of the plateau region, particularly in British Columbia. Flanking this central belt on the west and generally parallel to the Pacific Ocean is another great mountain system. This system includes the Coast Mountains, an extension into British Columbia of the Cascade Range of the United States, and various coastal ranges. The loftiest coastal uplift is the Saint Elias Mountains, on the boundary between Yukon Territory and Alaska. Among noteworthy peaks of the western Cordillera in Canada are Mount Logan (5951 m/19,524 ft, the highest point in Canada and second highest mountain in North America after Mount McKinley), Mount Saint Elias (5489 m/18,008 ft), Mount Lucania (5226 m/17,147 ft), and King Peak (5173 m/16,971 ft); all are in the Saint Elias Mountains.


The Canadian Shield, which occupies the eastern half of Canada's landmass, is an ancient craton, or stable platform, made up of rocks that formed billions of years ago, during the Precambrian time of earth history. The shield, with its assemblage of granites, gneisses, and schists 2 to 4 billion years old, became the nucleus of the North American plate at the time that the earth's crust first began experiencing the tectonic forces that drive continental drift. See also North America: Geological History.
During the Paleozoic era, large parts of Canada were covered by shallow seas. Sediments deposited in these seas formed the sandstone, shale, and limestone that now surround the Canadian Shield. The Cambrian and Silurian systems are represented by great thicknesses of strata that appear in outcroppings in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland, along the Saint Lawrence Valley, and on the shores of Lake Ontario. Flat - lying beds of Paleozoic and younger rocks extend westward across the Interior Plains throughout the prairie provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. In these areas, the rocks contain valuable deposits of oil and gas. In the Cordilleran region of western Canada, the rocks were subjected to tectonic forces generated by the collision of the North American plate with the Pacific plate. In the ensuing upheavals, which began during the Cretaceous period, mountain ranges rose throughout the Cordilleran region. The easternmost of these ranges, the Rocky Mountains, are similar in structure to the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, having been built by uplift and folding of sedimentary rocks and, in lesser degree, by volcanic activity. The strata of which they are composed range in age from Paleozoic to Tertiary and contain valuable deposits of base and precious metals as well as fossil fuels.
During the Quaternary period, nearly all of Canada was covered by vast ice sheets that terminated in the northern United States. Landscapes were profoundly modified by the erosive action of this vast mass of moving ice, particularly in the creation of Canada's many thousands of lakes and its extensive deposits of sand, clay and gravel. See also Ice Ages.


Part of the Canadian mainland and most of the Arctic Archipelago fall within the Frigid Zone; the remainder of the country lies in the northern half of the North Temperate Zone. As a consequence, general climatic conditions range from the extreme cold characteristic of the Arctic regions to the moderate temperatures of more southerly latitudes. The Canadian climate is marked by wide regional variations. In the Maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island), extremes of winter cold and summer heat are modified by oceanic influences, which also cause considerable fog and precipitation. Along the western coast, which is under the influence of warm ocean currents and moisture - laden winds, mild summers and winters, high humidity, and abundant precipitation are characteristic. In the Cordilleran region the higher western slopes of certain uplifts, particularly the Selkirks and the Rockies, receive sizable amounts of rain and snow, but the eastern slopes and the central plateau region are extremely arid. A feature of the Cordilleran region is the chinook, a warm, dry westerly wind that substantially ameliorates winter conditions in the Rocky Mountain foothills and adjoining plains, often causing great daily changes. For further climatic information, see articles on the individual provinces.

Natural Resources

Canada is richly endowed with valuable natural resources that are commercially indispensable to the economy. The country has enormous areas of fertile, low - lying land in the Prairie provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan) and bordering the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River in southern Québec and southern Ontario. Canadian forests cover about 49 percent of the country's land area and abound in commercially valuable stands of timber. Commercial fishing in Canada dates back nearly 500 years, and ocean waters, inland lakes, and rivers continue to support this industry. The mining industry of Canada has a long history of exploration and development that predates confederation in 1867. The Canadian Shield contains a wealth of minerals; the nation is also rich in reserves of crude petroleum and natural gas. The river and lake systems of the country combine with the mountainous topography to make hydroelectric energy one of the permanent natural assets of Canada. The wildlife of the country is extensive and varied.


The flora of the entire northern part of Canada is arctic and subarctic. A good part of the Maritime provinces is covered by forests of mixed hardwoods and softwoods. The Prairie provinces are comparatively treeless as far north as the Saskatchewan River system; prairie grasses, herbage, and bunchgrasses are the chief forms of vegetation. North of the Saskatchewan a broad belt of rather small and sparse trees extends from Hudson Bay to Great Slave Lake and the Rocky Mountains. Spruce, tamarack, and poplar are the principal species. The dry slopes and valleys of the Rocky Mountains support thin forests, mainly pine, but the forests increase in density and the trees in size westward toward the region of greater rainfall. On the coast ranges, especially on their western slopes, are dense forests of mighty evergreen trees. The principal trees are the spruce, hemlock, Douglas and balsam firs, jack and lodgepole pines, and cedar.


The animals of Canada are very similar or identical to those of northern Europe and Asia. Among the carnivores are several species of the weasel subfamily, such as the ermine, sable, fisher, wolverine, and mink. Other representative carnivores include the black bear, brown bear, lynx, wolf, coyote, fox, and skunk. The polar bear is distributed throughout the arctic regions; the puma, or American lion, is found in British Columbia. Of the rodents, the most characteristic is the beaver. The Canadian porcupine, the muskrat, and many smaller rodents are numerous, as are hare, and in the Interior Plains a variety of burrowing gopher is found.
Several varieties of Virginia deer are indigenous to southern Canada; the black - tailed deer occurs in British Columbia and parts of the plains region. This region is also the habitat of the pronghorn antelope. The woodland caribou and the moose are numerous and widely distributed, but the Barren Ground caribou is found only in the more northern areas, which are also the habitat of the musk - ox. Elk and bison are found in various western areas. In the mountains of British Columbia bighorn sheep and Rocky Mountain goats are numerous. Birds are abundant and diverse, and fish are numerous in all the inland waters and along all the coasts. Reptiles and insects are scarce, except in the far south


The racial and ethnic makeup of the Canadian people is diversified. About 28 percent of the population is composed of people of British origin. People of French origin total about 23 percent of the population. The vast majority of French - speaking Canadians reside in Québec, where they make up about three - fourths of the population; large numbers also live in Ontario and New Brunswick, and smaller groups inhabit the remaining provinces. French - speaking Canadians maintain their language, culture, and traditions, and the federal government follows the policy of a bilingual and bicultural nation. During the 1970s and 1980s the proportion of Asians among the Canadian population increased, and today those who count their ancestry as wholly Asian make up more than 5 percent of the population. More than two - thirds of the Asian immigrants live in Ontario or British Columbia. The remainder of the population is composed of people of various ethnic origins, such as German, Italian, Ukrainian, Netherlands Dutch, Scandinavian, Polish, Hungarian, Greek, and Native American.
Blacks have never constituted a major segment of the Canadian population, but their history has been an interesting one. Although Louis XIV of France in 1689 authorized the importation of slaves from the West Indies, black immigration into Canada has been almost entirely from the United States. Some Loyalists brought slaves north with them during and after the American Revolution (1775 - 1783). The British troops that burned Washington in the War of 1812 brought many slaves back with them to Halifax, Nova Scotia. However, Nova Scotia abolished slavery in 1787 and was followed six years later by Upper Canada, thus setting precedents for the whole British Empire. The presence of free soil in Canada was a major influence in the operation of the Underground Railroad, which, during the abolition campaign in the United States, transported many slaves into Canada, particularly to Chatham and Sarnia in Ontario. Blacks make up less than 2 percent of the Canadian population.
Native Americans make up nearly 4 percent of Canada's inhabitants, including those who claim at least part Native American ancestry. These people belong predominantly to the Algonquian linguistic group; other representative linguistic stocks are the Iroquoian, Salishan, Athabascan, and Inuit (Eskimoan). Altogether, the indigenous people of Canada are divided into nearly 600 groups, or bands.

Political Divisions

Canada comprises ten provinces, each with a separate legislature and administration; the Yukon Territory, which is governed by a federally appointed commissioner, assisted by an elected executive council and legislature; and the Northwest Territories, which is governed by a federally appointed commissioner and an elected assembly. In descending order of population (1991 census) the provinces are the following: Ontario, Québec, British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island.

The provinces (facts and capitals): area in sqkm / inhabitants / inh. Per sqkm

Alberta (Edmonton) 638233 2914500 4,6
British Columbia (Victoria) 892677 4009000 4,5
Manitoba (Winnipeg) 547704 1138700 2,1
New Brunswick (Fredericton) 71569 753000 10,5
Newfoundland(St. John’s) 371635 543800 1,5
Nova Scotia (Halifax) 52841 934200 17,7
Ontario (Toronto) 916734 11413700 12,5
Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown) 5660 136500 24,1
Quebec (Quebec) 1357812 7334500 5,4
Saskatchewan (Regina) 570113 1024300 1,8

Northwest Territories (Yellowknife) 136389 40100 0,02
Nunavut Territory (Iqualiut) 1900000 27200 0,02
Yukon Territory (Whitehorse) 531844 31700 0,1

Canada (Ottawa) 9203211 30301200 3,3
Austria 83857,8 8082819 0,01

Principal Cities

Among the leading cities of Canada are Toronto, Ontario, a port and manufacturing city ; Montréal, Québec, a port and major commercial center ; Vancouver, British Columbia, a railroad, shipping, and forest - products manufacturing center ; Ottawa, Ontario, the capital of Canada and a commercial and industrial city ; Edmonton, Alberta, a farming and petroleum center ; Calgary, Alberta, a transportation, mining, and farm - trade center ; Winnipeg, Manitoba, a major wheat market and railroad hub ; the city of Québec, Québec, a shipping, manufacturing, and tourist center ; Hamilton, Ontario, a shipping and manufacturing center ; London, Ontario, a railroad and industrial center ; Saint Catharines, Ontario, an industrial and commercial city Saint Catharines - Niagara metropolitan area. Kitchener, Ontario, a city of manufacturing industries ; and Halifax, Nova Scotia, a seaport and manufacturing city (320,501).


The largest religious community in Canada is Roman Catholic. Nearly half of Canadians who are Roman Catholic live in Québec. Of the Protestant denominations in Canada the largest is the United Church of Canada, followed by the Anglican Church of Canada. Other important Protestant groups are the Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Pentecostal. Nearly 2 percent of the population are Eastern Orthodox, and Muslim and Jewish adherents each number about 1 percent. Immigration in recent years has brought a substantial number of Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs to the country. Nearly 13 percent of Canadians claim no religion.

Education and Culture

The educational system in Canada is derived from the British and American traditions and the French tradition, the latter particularly in the province of Québec. English or French is the language of instruction, and some schools provide instruction in both official languages. Each of the ten provinces has responsibility for establishing and maintaining its own school system. In Québec, the French - Canadian tradition is followed by the Roman Catholic schools. The province also maintains Protestant schools, however, which are widely attended. Although Canada does not have a central ministry of education, the federal government provides schools for children of Native Americans on reserves, inmates of federal penitentiaries, and the children of military personnel.


Until the early 20th century, Canada was primarily an agricultural nation. Since then it has become one of the most highly industrialized countries in the world. To a large extent the manufacturing industries are supplied with raw materials produced by the agricultural, mining, forestry, and fishing sectors of the Canadian economy.
Between 1973 and 1993 Canada's output of goods and services, or gross domestic product (GDP), increased in real terms by 76 percent to $551.6 billion. Federal government annual revenues in the early 1990s were $92.34 billion; expenditures for the same year were $123.04 billion, leaving a deficit of $30.7 billion.


The Canadian economy depends heavily on agriculture, which employs about 4 percent of the labor force. In the early 1990s Canada had some 280,000 farms, which averaged 242 hectares in size. The annual value of farm output amounted to $18.6 billion in the early 1990s. Because of its abundant production and relatively small population, Canada is a leading exporter of food products. Farms in Canada are about equally divided between crop raising and livestock production. Wheat is the most important single crop, and the Prairie provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan form one of the greatest wheat - growing areas of the world, with an average annual production of more than one - fifth of the world's supply. One - half of Canada's wheat is grown in Saskatchewan. The prairie provinces also grow a large percentage of the coarse grains and oilseeds produced in Canada. After wheat, the major cash receipts from field crops are obtained from sales of canola, vegetables, barley, maize, potatoes, fruits, tobacco, and soybeans. Annual output totals in the early 1990s included (in metric tons) wheat, 29.9 million; barley, 10.9 million; maize, 5.6 million; canola, 3.7 million; potatoes, 2.9 million; and oats, 3.0 million.
Livestock and livestock products account for about 50 percent of yearly farm cash receipts. Ranching prevails in the west, and the raising of livestock is a general enterprise, except in parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan, where beef cattle form a specialized industry. Ontario and Québec rank highest in production of dairy products, with about 71 percent of the national output; in poultry farming, with 64 percent; and in egg production, with 54 percent. Québec produces 82 percent of the maple products, and Ontario produces 89 percent of the nation's tobacco crop.
In early 1990s the livestock population of Canada included about 14.7 million cattle and calves, of which approximately 1.2 million were milk cows; 10.7 million hogs; and 949,000 sheep and lambs. Fruit farming is done in Ontario, British Columbia, and Québec, with apples contributing about 40 percent of the total value. Berries, peaches, grapes, and cherries are other important crops. Tomatoes, onions, carrots, turnips, peas, and beans are major vegetable crops; Ontario produces about one - half of the total vegetable crop, followed by Québec and British Columbia.


The mining industry in Canada has a long history of exploration. The most significant period of growth, however, has been since World War II ended in 1945, with mineral discoveries in almost every region of the country. Mining is an important source of national wealth; in the early 1990s annual mineral production was valued at about $29.3 billion. The Canadian mining industry is strongly oriented toward exports, and Canada is one of the world's leading mineral exporters. The United States, the European Union, and Japan are the leading purchasers of Canadian minerals.
The growth of the mining industry is due in part to petroleum and natural gas discoveries in western Canada; development of huge iron - ore deposits in Labrador and Québec; the discovery and development of large deposits of nickel in Ontario and Manitoba, uranium in Ontario and Saskatchewan, and potash in Saskatchewan; extraction of sulfur from natural gas in the western provinces; development of copper, lead, and zinc deposits; and the production of gold in Ontario, Québec, British Columbia, and Northwest Territories. The leading minerals, in order of value, are crude petroleum (591.2 million barrels annually in the early 1990s), natural gas (118.9 billion cu m), natural gas by - products (26.6 million cu m/939 million cu ft), gold (157,600 kg), copper (744,700 metric tons), zinc (1.2 million metric tons), nickel (189,100 metric tons), coal (64.6 million metric tons), and iron ore (32.8 million metric tons). These minerals together typically account for more than four - fifths of the value of annual mineral production. Alberta leads the country by a wide margin in the yearly value of mineral output; it is usually followed by Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Québec, and Manitoba. Canada usually leads the world in the annual production of asbestos and zinc and ranks second in production of nickel, potash, and uranium. Other minerals in which the country is among the leading producers are cobalt, copper, gold, gypsum, iron ore, lead, molybdenum, natural gas, platinum - group metals, silver, sulfur, and titanium concentrates. The mining industry is subject to market fluctuations that adversely affect dependent local economies.


The natural variety of seasons and scenic wonders of Canada draw large numbers of tourists. In the spring, blossom festivals flourish across Canada, especially in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia and the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Noteworthy is the Ottawa Festival of Spring (Tulip Festival) in May. Alberta's Calgary Exhibition and Stampede in July is world - famous. The Niagara Grape and Wine Festival and autumn - color tours in central Ontario and the Laurentian Mountains of Québec are among the other attractions. In the winter the abundant snowfall has been exploited; skiing centers are expanding. Also attracting visitors are more than 730,000 sq km of natural areas preserved in Canada's federal, marine, and provincial parks.
Tourism has become one of the leading industries of Canada. In the early 1990s the country was visited by some 36.8 million tourists annually, of whom about 91 percent came from the United States. Expenditures were about $6.8 billion a year, with U.S. residents spending some 46 percent of the total.

Currency and Banking

The unit of currency in Canada is the Canadian dollar, which consists of 100 cents (approximately 0,8 US - Dollars). The Bank of Canada has the sole right to issue paper money for circulation. Chartered commercial banks operated more than 7600 domestic branches in the early 1990s and had combined assets exceeding $515 billion. Under the Bank Act of 1980, no Canadian subsidiary of a foreign bank may hold assets equal to more than 16 percent of the assets of the entire banking system. A major revision of the Bank Act in 1992 permitted banks, trust companies, and insurance companies to diversify into each other's markets. In the mid - 1990s there were 9 domestic and 54 foreign - owned banks operating in Canada. Most foreign - owned and major domestic banks have their head offices in Toronto; a few are based in Montréal. Trust and mortgage loan companies, provincial savings banks, and credit unions also provide banking services. Securities exchanges operate in Toronto, Montréal, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver.


The rivers, lakes and train are the important connections for trade.Two major airlines, Air Canada and Canadian Airlines International, maintain a broad network of domestic and international routes. Other smaller carriers are licensed. Of the more than 510 airfields certified by Transport Canada, the busiest are Lester B. Pearson International Airport, in Toronto; Vancouver International Airport; Dorval and Mirabel international airports, near Montréal; and Calgary International Airport.


Canada is mainly governed according to principles embodied in the Constitution Act of 1982, which gave the Canadian government total authority over its constitution. Previously, the British North America Act of 1867 and subsequent laws had reserved some constitutional authority with the British Parliament. Canada is a federal union, with a division of powers between the central and provincial governments. Under the original 1867 act, the central government had considerable power over the provinces, but, through amendments to the act and changes brought by practical experience, the provincial governments have increased the scope of their authority. However, considerable tension continues to exist between the federal government and the provincial governments over the proper allocation of power.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, added by the passage of the 1982 Constitution Act to the country's constitution, guarantees to citizens "fundamental freedoms," such as those of conscience and the press; "democratic rights" to vote and seek election; "mobility," "legal," and "equality" rights to move throughout Canada, to enjoy security of person, and to combat discrimination; and the equality of the French and English languages. The charter changed the Canadian political system by enhancing the power of the courts to make or unmake laws through judicial decisions. It also contains the so - called "notwithstanding" clause, which allows Parliament or the provincial legislatures to designate an act operative even though it might clash with a charter provision. Although the constitution and charter apply uniformly throughout Canada, the province of Québec has never formally signed the agreement.
The head of state of Canada is the sovereign of Great Britain. In theory, the head of the national government is the governor - general, who represents the British monarch; the actual head of government, however, is the prime minister, who is responsible to Parliament.

Central Government

The central government of Canada exercises all powers not specifically assigned to the provinces; it has exclusive jurisdiction over administration of the public debt, currency and coinage, taxation for general purposes, organization of national defense, fiscal matters, banking, fisheries, commerce, navigation and shipping, energy policy, agriculture, postal service, census, statistics, patents, copyright, naturalization, aliens, indigenous peoples affairs, marriage, and divorce. Among the powers assigned to the provincial governments are education, hospitals, provincial property and civil rights, taxation for local purposes, the regulation of local commerce, and the borrowing of money. With respect to certain matters, such as immigration, the federal and provincial governments possess concurrent jurisdiction.
The nominal head of the government is the governor - general, the representative of the British crown, who is appointed by the reigning monarch on the recommendation of the prime minister of Canada. The governor - general adheres to the advice of the majority in the House of Commons (the lower chamber of the legislature) in appointing the prime minister, who is the effective head of government, and follows the prime minister's wishes in appointing the Cabinet. The Cabinet consists of as many as 40 members, most of whom are ministers presiding over departments of the federal government. The cabinet has no formal legal power but submits its decisions to Parliament.


The Canadian Parliament consists of two houses, the Senate and the House of Commons. Senators are appointed by the governor - general on the advice of the prime minister to terms that last until the age of 75; there are normally 104 senators (6 from Newfoundland; 10 each from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick; 4 from Prince Edward Island; 24 each from Québec and Ontario; 6 from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia; and 1 each from the Northwest Territories and Yukon Territory). In 1990 the Conservative federal government found that proposed legislation was being held up by the Liberal - controlled Senate. Invoking a measure in Canada's consitution that had never been used before, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney added 8 new senators, thereby increasing the total number of senators to 112 and achieving a Conservative majority. The number of senators has since returned to 104.
Members of the House of Commons are elected in 295 federal electoral districts whose boundaries are periodically adjusted to reflect population growth or redistribution. Each district contains, on average, about 100,000 constituents. Federal elections are held at the prime minister's discretion, but must be called within a five - year period; in practice, they are called about every four years. Laws are first debated in the House of Commons, but must also be approved by the Senate and signed by the governor - general before coming into effect. The prime minister is the leader of the majority party in the House of Commons; if no majority exists, the party with the most seats in Parliament leads a "minority government."


The legal system in Canada is derived from English common law, except in Québec, where the provincial system of civil law is based on the French Code Napoléon. The federal judiciary is headed by the Supreme Court of Canada, made up of a chief justice and eight puisne (associate) judges, three of whom must come from Québec. It sits in Ottawa and is the final Canadian appellate court for all civil, criminal, and constitutional cases. The next leading tribunal, the Federal Court of Canada, is divided into a Trial Division and an Appeal Division. It hears a variety of cases, notably involving claims against the federal government. Provincial courts are established by the provincial legislatures, and, although the names of the courts are not uniform, each province has a similar three - tiered court system. Judges of the Supreme Court and the Federal Court and almost all judges of the higher provincial courts are appointed by the federal government.

Provincial and Territorial Government

The government of each of Canada's ten provinces is in theory headed by a lieutenant governor, who represents the sovereign of Great Britain and is appointed by the governor - general on the advice of the federal prime minister. Like the governor - general, however, the lieutenant governor has little actual power, and in practice the chief executive of each province is the premier, who is responsible to a unicameral provincial legislature. Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories are both governed by federally appointed commissioners, assisted in the Northwest Territories by a legislative assembly and in Yukon Territory by an elected council and legislature. A third territory, Nunavut, will be formally created in 1999 and will have a similar governmental makeup to the other two territories.


The Canadian armed forces are integrated and are headed by the chief of the defense staff, who reports to the civilian minister of national defense. Under the defense staff are five major commands, organized according to function: maritime command, land force command, air command, communication command, and headquarters northern area command. Canada is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and allocates air and land forces to support NATO in Europe. Canada participates jointly with the United States in the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). It also contributes troops to United Nations peacekeeping operations. In the early 1990s the Canadian armed forces included about 78,100 people.


The first man who discovered a part of today’s Canada was the Viking Leif Eriksson. Around the year 1000, he landed at three places of the new discovered land. First at "Helluland" perhaps the area of today’s Baffinland, at "Markland" perhaps Labrador and "Vinland", perhaps the area between Newfoundland and Cap Cod. This new discovered land was not colonized by the Vikings, because of the large distance to their home - land and some angry Hurons (Indians), who didn’t like to be disturbed.
After the time of the Vikings, Canada remained unexplored until 1534, when the French sailor Jacques Cartier declared Newfoundland as a colony for the French crown, although there was already a little British settlement in this area. In the same year he founded (the first) Montreal in the area of the Indian settlement "Hochelaga" at the Saint - Lawrence - river. Jacques Cartier is meant to be the founder of the French - colonial Empire in North America.
In 1608 Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec in the area of the Indian settlement "Stadacona". 25 years later Champlain became the first governor of New France, which included Acadia and Canada, the large lakes and the territory near the Mississippi down to Louisiane (later Louisiana named after king Louis XIV). 1701 General Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded the Fort "Pontchartrain du Detroit" for the safety of the French colonies.
In1753 the British - French War starts out in Europe, and 1755 the war takes place in the colonies,too. After the seven year war, British troops arrived at Montreal, which leads to the delivery of Canada to Great Britain. With the first rebellions of the colonies against the British crown, the Royals reacted, concerning Canada, with the "Quebec Act", which assured Canada special rights, like the right of free religion, the remaining French civil right and a say in the local government. During the war of Independence, Canada was the important start - point for British troops; after the war 40000 loyal "Englishmen" immigrated to Canada, many of them were German - speaking people.
In 1840 the Canada Union Act took place, which united North - and South Canada, six years later the 49th latitude line became the official border between Canada and the USA. With the "British North Act" in 1867 the dominion (also called Confederation) of Canada was proclaimed; the provinces Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were united. In 1870 Manitoba became member, in 1871 British Columbia, 1873 Prince Edward Island, 1905 Alberta and Saskatchewan and finally in 1949 Newfoundland.

The Laurier Years
The election of 1896 was won by the Liberals, led by the French - Canadian lawyer Wilfrid Laurier. A period of prosperity ensued as he carried forward Macdonald's national policy. Protective tariffs supported rapid industrial expansion. A host of emigrants was attracted from Britain and central and eastern Europe and from the United States, where free land was running out. The prairies were finally settled, with Alberta and Saskatchewan becoming provinces in 1905. Two new transcontinental railways were built with public funds to serve the prairie granary. Private entrepreneurs with provincial aid extended railways to northern Ontario and Québec, where gold, silver, and base metals were discovered.
Laurier also won notice as a stalwart champion of Canadian rights against the United States in a dispute (1903) over the Alaskan boundary, which cut northwestern Canada off from the Pacific. He preserved Canadian autonomy by skillfully managing to limit its involvement in British imperialist expansion during the Boer War (1899 - 1902).
The business community benefited most from the Laurier years. Indeed, by 1911 railway development, industrial growth, and corporate mergers had produced a powerful big - business sector. Some Canadians, however, worried about the social costs of rapid growth, began to attack the supposed evils of plutocratic rule. The spread of slums and disease in overcrowded cities led to demands for government action to improve public health, welfare, and morality. Reformers agitated for the modernization of government and its services, along the lines of a similar reform movement in the United States. A new women's movement campaigned for prohibition, equal rights, and woman suffrage. Other Canadians feared that their way of life was being threatened by alien influences. One such influence was the nearly 600,000 "New Canadian" emigrants from central and southern Europe, many of them Slavic. The other was the steady Americanization of Canada through heavy industrial investment, the domination of the labor movement by the American Federation of Labor, and the enormous popularity of American culture in the cities of English Canada.
In addition to these new discontents, the old ethnic frictions were exacerbated. Objecting to the establishment of a single English school system in Manitoba (1890) and the new provinces, and to even limited Canadian military support of Britain, French - Canadians began again to agitate for autonomy. Consequently, when Laurier negotiated a new reciprocal trade agreement with the United States that seemed to increase American influence, both French - Canadian and business interests defeated him in the election of 1911.

World War I and Its Effects
Robert Laird Borden, the new Conservative prime minister, was responsive to reform demands but soon found his government's energies absorbed by World War I (1914 - 1918). The Canadian war effort was impressive. The population of 8 million spent $1.67 billion. It sent 425,000 Canadians overseas, at first under British command but by 1917 under Canadian, and lost about 60,000 troops in such actions as Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele. As a result, in foreign affairs Canada's autonomy was expressed by its independent participation in the Paris Peace Conference. On the domestic scene, however, the war effort had undermined national unity. The French - Canadians had bitterly opposed Borden's decision to implement war conscription, and to counteract this Borden had attempted to forge a merger of the Conservative and Liberal parties. This joint government eventually split into two factions, the mostly English - speaking Unionists and the French - speaking Liberals. The Unionists dominated the election in 1917, winning every province but Québec.
The Union government granted woman suffrage in 1918 and briefly passed prohibition. It could not, however, handle postwar problems. The government, struggling under war debt, was further burdened by the acquisition of bankrupt railways, including the two subsidized by Laurier. All these were amalgamated as the Canadian National Railways in 1923. Wartime inflation followed by peacetime depression heightened class tensions. Winnipeg was crippled by a general strike in 1919, raising fears of a Communist takeover. Farmers in Ontario and the west, caught between the high cost of manufactured goods and declining wheat prices, revolted against the established parties. They formed the new National Progressive party, which swept the Prairie provinces in the election of 1921. The Progressives gave limited support to the Liberals, enabling them to form a minority government.

The Prosperous 1920s
In the 1920s, by contrast, prosperity returned, principally in the cities, attracting ambitious rural youth escaping farm drudgery or seeking new economic opportunity. The latter was based on a third wave of industrial development, especially of mineral and forest products from the north. Reflecting this economic upturn, the labor movement declined; farmers turned from political action to economic cooperatives; and businesspeople, as apparent creators of the good life, regained their prestige. People spent more on personal items such as cars and radios, setting off a retail boom. The moral rigor of the previous generation relaxed, as manifested by the popularity of hockey, horse racing, and other organized sports; the rising sales of liquor and tobacco; and the enthusiasm for American motion pictures and radio programs.
The new Liberal prime minister, the Ontario labor expert William Lyon Mackenzie King, benefited from the new mood of confidence and ease as he strove to unify the nation. He insisted that Canada determine its own domestic and foreign policies as an equal of Britain, a right recognized at the Imperial Conference of 1926 and confirmed in 1931 by the British Statute of Westminster (see Westminster, Statute of). His defense of Canadian autonomy was popular with both French - Canadians and western Canadians. He partly satisfied farmers by mildly reducing the tariff, won business support by cautious budgeting, and even earned praise from reformers for passage of an Old Age Pension Act (1927). Conservatives were a minority, and Progressives were in decline.

The Pursuit of Well - Being (1929 - 1957)
After the prosperity of the 1920s, Canada underwent depression and war and emerged into another era of material progress.

The Depression
In four years the world - wide Great Depression shook the foundations of the nation. The gross national product fell from a high of $6.1 billion in 1929 to a low of $3.5 billion in 1933. The value of industrial production was halved. In 1933 about 20 percent of the labor force was unemployed. The drought - stricken western provinces were particularly hard hit as grain prices toppled from $1.60 a bushel in 1928 to $0.28 in 1932. Total exports dropped by about $600 million, a disaster for a country so dependent on foreign markets. The consequence was a shift in the government's priority from nation building to the pursuit of social well - being—the security, health, and comfort of the mass of people.
Canadians quickly turned to politics for a solution. Rejecting Mackenzie King, they chose Conservative lawyer Richard Bennett, who promised swift action. He increased payments to the provinces to support the unemployed, who by 1933 had reached one - third of the population. He dramatically raised tariffs to protect industry and force concessions from foreign countries, and at the Imperial Economic Conference at Ottawa in 1932 he arranged preferential trade agreements with Britain and other Commonwealth countries. He enlarged the sphere of government by creating the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (1932), the centralized Bank of Canada (1934), and a Wheat Board (1935). The economy did not recover, however, and the government lost prestige. In 1935, Bennett announced a more radical reform package similar to the American New Deal: unemployment insurance, a reduced workweek, make - work programs such as "environmental restoration," a minimum wage, industrial codes, and permanent economic planning.
The new policy did not save the Conservatives, however. Many voters turned to three small new parties, which promised solutions to the depression—the Reconstruction party, a Conservative offshoot; the Co - operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), a socialist group; and the Social Credit party, a right - wing radical movement based in Alberta. Almost by default, Mackenzie King and the Liberals won the election of 1935.
Mackenzie King dropped Bennett's New Deal package, which was eventually declared unconstitutional in 1937 by the British Privy Council, which was then the final court of appeal. He did, however, make a new Reciprocity Treaty (1936) with the United States, convert the radio commission into the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and fully nationalize the Bank of Canada. Fending off provincial demands for money to support relief programs, he instituted the Rowell - Sirois Royal Commission (1937), which recommended federal responsibility for many provincial social services and a more even distribution of revenue.
The War Years
The start of World War II (1939 - 1945) helped save Mackenzie King's government and the Canadian economy. Although Canada had followed an isolationist policy in the 1930s, when Britain went to war in 1939, Canada too joined the anti - Axis coalition. At first the government concentrated mainly on economic contributions of food, raw materials, and goods, thereby avoiding the conscription so odious to French - Canadians. The German invasion of France in 1940, however, forced Canadians to accept the realities of total war.
Taking command of the economy, the Liberal government set up boards to regulate resources and industry, wages and prices, and a rationing system. In 1944 it approved labor's right to collective bargaining. Most important, it agreed to a large army, which required conscription. Again, the war effort was impressive: Expenditure amounted to $21 billion by 1950. Out of a population of 12 million, about 1.5 million men and women served, 41,700 of whom died in action in Europe.
During the war the government planned a peacetime society that would ensure the well - being of the populace according to the recommendations of the Rowell - Sirois Commission. One key element was a minimum social - welfare package to establish a basic living standard. It consisted of unemployment insurance (1940), family allowance payments (1944), generous veterans' benefits, improved old - age pensions, subsidized housing, and various health plans. The other key element was an economic program to foster full employment with a minimum of inflation. After the war the government dismantled industrial controls, encouraged foreign trade, and stemmed the tide of postwar inflation.
After 22 years as prime minister, Mackenzie King retired in 1948, to be succeeded by Louis St. Laurent, a Québec lawyer. St. Laurent led the Liberals to an overwhelming victory in 1949, indicating national approval of the Liberal design for Canada. Another sign of approval was the decision of Newfoundland, including Labrador, to become a Canadian province. This union, in 1949, completed the Confederation.

Postwar Prosperity
The success of the Liberal design and the continued rule of the Liberal party were ensured by an enormous postwar economic boom. New oil supplies in Alberta and new iron - ore reserves in Ungava (in northern Québec) and Labrador were discovered during the late 1940s. In the next decade uranium resources were developed in northern Ontario, and hydroelectric power stations were built across the country. Manufacturing expanded and diversified, increasing in gross value from $8 billion in 1946 to $22 billion in 1953. The government encouraged modernization of the transportation system. The Trans - Canada Highway, a federal - provincial project, was begun in 1949. Trans - Canada Airways, a crown corporation founded in 1938, expanded. In 1956 the privately owned Trans - Canada Pipeline was approved to carry oil and gas from Alberta to Canadian and American markets. The boom was further fueled by the arrival of some 1.5 million immigrants, chiefly British and other Europeans, who provided cheap labor and a body of new consumers.
The gross national product rose from $12 billion in 1946 to more than $30 billion in 1957. The trade unions made economic gains for their members. In 1956 the two largest, the Canadian Congress of Labour and the Trades and Labour Congress, merged into the Canadian Labour Congress, which became a potent force in political and economic life. Much of this economic expansion, however, depended on heavy American investment in Canadian natural resources and American control of much Canadian manufacturing.

New Foreign Ties
Canada's postwar affluence enhanced its status in a world of devastated European countries and underdeveloped African and Asian lands. The government was especially active in foreign aid. In 1950 it joined the Colombo Plan for assisting underdeveloped members of the Commonwealth.
As the old ties with Britain slowly dissolved, Canada came gradually into the political orbit of the United States. In 1940 Mackenzie King and U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had signed the Ogdensburg Agreement providing for permanent joint planning of North American defense. After the war, Canada's foreign policy was closely linked to the United States strategy of containing Communist expansion. In 1949 Canada approved the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), guaranteeing the defense of Europe under U.S. leadership. It sent troops to the largely American - staffed UN army during the Korean War (1950 - 1953). In 1956, at the time of the Anglo - French occupation of the Suez Canal, it proposed, with American approval, a UN Emergency Force to preserve a new truce in the Middle East. This action further cemented Canada's independence from Britain, as it did not back Britain's action in the Middle East. Canada also negotiated the North American Air (now Aerospace) Defense Command (NORAD, 1958), confirming that Canadian defense was a U.S. responsibility. Thus, relations between the United States and Canada became, to the Canadian mind, as significant and intertwined as had been the ties with Britain.

A Time of Troubles (1957 - )
Beginning in the late 1950s, a series of intractable problems emerged to threaten the very survival of Canada. Affluence and Liberalism had undermined the nation's traditional supports: the connection with Britain, a decentralized federalism, the accommodation of French - and English - Canadian ambitions, and social conservatism.
The 1957 election of the Conservative leader John Diefenbaker ended 22 years of Liberal rule in Ottawa. The next year his government won a sweeping parliamentary majority.

The Turmoil of the 1960s
A surge of social criticism, particularly among the young, challenged existing authority during the 1960s. The old CCF was reborn in 1961 as the prolabor New Democratic party (NDP), intent on creating a social democracy in Canada. A wave of anti - Americanism led many artists and intellectuals in English Canada to attack all signs of U.S. economic and cultural power. The most serious problem resulted from the revival of French - Canadian nationalism. After 1960 a new Liberal government in Québec sponsored a "Quiet Revolution" to modernize institutions, demand autonomy, and enhance the French - Canadian presence in economic life.
In Ottawa, Diefenbaker was unable to govern the country effectively, and his party was beaten in the election of 1963 by the revitalized Liberals led by Lester Pearson, a former diplomat. Pearson's minority government was responsive to the public mood. It unified the armed forces under a single command, revamped the broadcasting system, and laid the foundation for medical care for all citizens (which went into effect in 1969). The government also implemented "cooperative federalism" to allow Québec and other provinces a greater say in national affairs. Even so, some nationalists turned to new separatist organizations, notably René Lévesque's Parti Québécois (PQ), founded in 1968.

The Trudeau Era
In the 1968 election the policies and personality of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, a French - Canadian, brought the Liberals a majority. Trudeau, who dominated national politics for some 15 years, elaborated a new vision of Canada. His government strengthened cultural policies to promote the media and subsidized Canadian participation in international sports events to provide a new focus for national pride. Trudeau liberalized immigration practices, over time attracting more Asian and Central and South American newcomers to Canada, and implemented the idea of multiculturalism, encouraging the persistence of distinct ethnic identities among the population. The government greatly expanded payments to the underprivileged, the young, and the aged in an effort to realize a social democracy in the European style.
Much of Trudeau's personal attention was focused on preserving national unity. His government passed the Official Languages Act (1969), which affirmed the equality of French and English in all governmental activities. In October 1970 he used martial law to impose order on Québec after the separatist Front de Liberation du Québec had seized a provincial cabinet minister and a British consul.
In foreign policy, an effort was made to forge links with Europe and Asia that might counterbalance the ties to the United States. The government also flirted with economic nationalism, establishing the Foreign Investment Review Agency (1974).
A serious blow was struck against the federal government with the victory of the PQ in Québec in 1976, and the implementation of a provincial law giving the French language preference there. The Liberals lost the May 1979 election to the Progressive Conservatives, led by Joseph Clark. He, however, was unable to form a stable majority in Parliament, and Trudeau returned to power in February 1980. In May the federal government triumphed in a provincial referendum on Québec sovereignty, with about 60 percent of Québec voters rejecting independence. Trudeau was also finally able to get the English - speaking provinces to agree to a new constitution, which was proclaimed in 1982; Québec, however, did not approve the constitution.
His efforts to remake Canada, however, had run into increasing difficulties. Provincial governments, especially in the west, were often angered by the centralist ambitions of Ottawa. Business bitterly criticized the government's economic policies. Many English - Canadians resented bilingualism and the signs of French power in Ottawa. Above all, government spending produced an unrelieved series of budget deficits, which reached $38.5 billion in 1984 - 1985 and resulted in a $233 billion national debt by 1986.

The Conservative Reaction
When Trudeau retired in June 1984, John Napier Turner became prime minister. In the September parliamentary elections the Conservatives, led by Brian Mulroney, easily won office and soon embarked on policies designed to undo Trudeau's vision of Canada.
Inspired by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the government tried to reduce the deficits, cut back on social and cultural policies, rebuild ties with business, and even privatize government enterprises. The most dramatic shift occurred in 1988 when Mulroney and Reagan signed a free - trade agreement. In the 1988 election Mulroney, strongly supported by business and bitterly opposed by English - Canadian nationalists, managed to eke out a win as candidates opposed to free trade split the vote. The benefits of free trade were undone by a combination of an overvalued Canadian dollar, corporate restructuring, a new goods and services tax (1991), and a severe recession that led to a decline in domestic manufacturing, a massive loss of jobs, and cross - border shopping by Canadians. In 1993 the Canadian government signed a further agreement with the United States and Mexico to create a free - trade zone. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) came into effect January 1, 1994.
An even more serious concern was the collapse of national unity. In a 1987 meeting at Meech Lake, Québec, national and provincial leaders had approved a series of constitutional amendments that would satisfy Québec's demand for recognition as a "distinct society" within the Canadian confederation. Although Mulroney worked hard to win over the provinces, English - Canadians objected to the accord and it was not ratified by Manitoba and Newfoundland in 1990. This failure sparked a major separatist revival in Québec, and led to another round of meetings in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in 1991 and 1992. These negotiations culminated in the drafting of the Charlottetown Accord, a blueprint for extensive changes to the constitution, including self - government for indigenous peoples, a restructuring of parliament to achieve better representation, and recognition of Québec as a distinct society. Although supported by most leaders in politics, the press, and business, the agreement was defeated in a national referendum in October 1992, in part because of disenchantment with politicians and Mulroney himself.
A government agreement to create a vast self - governing homeland for the Inuit people in the Northwest Territories was approved by Canadian voters at large in May 1992 and by the Inuit in November of that year. The homeland, called Nunavut (Inuktitut for "our land"), is to have territorial status beginning in 1999. In February 1993, with Canada mired in recession and discord, Mulroney announced his resignation as prime minister and Conservative party leader. Kim Campbell replaced him as head of the party in June, becoming Canada's first woman prime minister. Just four months later, however, Campbell and her party, the Progressive Conservatives, were routed from office in the October election. The Liberals won 177 seats in Parliament, while the Conservatives dropped from 154 seats to 2 in the worst defeat for a governing political party in Canada's history. The head of the Liberal party, Jean Chrétien, was sworn in as prime minister on November 4, 1993.
In 1994 provincial elections in Québec, Jacques Parizeau, the outspoken separatist leader of the Parti Québécois (PQ), was pitted against Daniel Johnson, the new Liberal leader and a significant federalist voice. During the campaign, Parizeau promised another referendum on sovereignty. For this stance, Parizeau received the support of Lucien Bouchard, leader of the Bloc Québécois in Ottawa. The popular vote was almost tied, but the PQ emerged with a majority of the seats. After the election, the PQ initiated a series of regional commissions throughout the province in an effort to rally popular sentiment around the cause of independence. However, although the public had voted for the PQ in the election, the majority appeared to favor remaining in Canada. The PQ, recognizing that a referendum would probably fail, announced in March 1995 it would postpone the vote.

Quebec and its "Independence"

In 1997 nine of ten provincial leaders (except Quebec) signed a contract for unity of the country(Declaration of Calgary); in this contract the equality of all provinces was the important point and the acception of Quebec’s French speaking majority. In 1998 the federal government sent an appeal to the supreme court, if it would be legal ,when Quebec declares his Independence without a federal election. On the 20.8.1998 the supreme court said no, so Quebec remained as a province of Canada.

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