Five Essential Facts Aboot Canadian Politics:
01) Hockey, Religion & State: The biggest difference between Canadian and American politics is Canada does not have a cheerleader culture. There’s a clear separation between Hockey, Religion and State in Canada whereas in America, Football, Baseball, Christianity and State are all wrapped up into one hyperbolic message which is then shouted out in short rhythmic bursts by dynamic pyramids of young, hyper-enthusiastic, impossibly healthy, ridiculously optimistic übercitizens.
The biggest difference between Canadian and European politics is Canada doesn’t do shit which requires hundreds of thousands of European soldiers to die stopping potentially World Ending Wars.
02) Canada — We Put The ‘Social’ Back Into Socialism: We’re a Constitutional Democracy with heavy Socialist tendencies that pays respectful lip-service to its Monarchist past.
We have ten provinces, not states, which control their own education and health care spending. A provincial leader is called “Premier”, and we have a “Prime Minister” (PM) as federal leader. We also have a “Governor General” who is still, albeit nominally, the (British) Monarch’s representative in Canada.
In our system we don’t vote to decide our federal Leader, we vote in our local ridings for a local Federal Party representative. Then the leader of whichever Federal Party gets the most representatives (Seats) elected, becomes the PM, but it’s the Federal Party who decided on their leader.
We have an unelected Senate, our Senators are appointed by the PM as patronage. Basically, if you do a lot of favours for someone and that someone gets somebody elected you become a Senator. It’s literally a lifetime achievement award for services rendered. It’s rare for the Senate to matter in Canadian politics, but it can happen.
We have a Supreme Court which is doing a pretty good job. Supreme Court Justice’s are also picked by the PM with no confirmation process, and the PM is under no obligation to explain his decision. We also have “Crown Corporations” like Canada Post, VIA Rail and the CBC, our public TV and Radio broadcaster. The heads of which are all selected by our PM with no confirmation process.
We also have a national police force called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). They’re responsible for diplomatic protection, protecting the PM, and they also operate as the local police force in most provinces (most cities have their own police, and Ontario and Quebec have their own provincial forces). The head of the RCMP is chosen solely by the PM. The PM also decides who’s going to be the head of Canada’s military… also with no confirmation or debate.
Canada also has a spy force called the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) which has no obligation to report what it does to Parliament, only to the PM and his hand-picked council. The head of CSIS is chosen by the PM.
Canada’s super-secret special forces unit is called ‘Joint Task Force 2′, or JTF-2. It is illegal to report on the whereabouts of JTF-2.
And we have a super-secret intelligence gathering agency, called the Canadian Security Establishment (CSE), which operates kind of like the American NSA, and is our contribution to the ECHELON project.
03) Pot, Dipps & The Eternal Race To The Political Middle:Canada has a federal political party called ‘The Marijuana Party’. They haven’t elected anyone to Parliament yet mostly because most of it’s membership think it’s actually an invitation to a 420 event.
Most of our political parties have pretty self-evident names: the Conservative Party are currently in charge, the Liberal Party has been in charge for most of Canada’s existence; the Bloq Quebecois are a Quebec-only ‘federalist’ party whose mandate is to take Quebec out of Federation (btw: Canada’s a federation) and then there’s the perennially last-place federal choice, the New Democratic Party (NDP).
…Election 2011 Update: the Conservatives have a majority government, the NDP are the Loyal Opposition, the Bloq were annihilated and the Liberals are in third place.
If Conservatives are Reese Witherspoon in “Election” then the NDP are basically a bunch of extras in “The Valley of the Wolves” slouched around tables in a Turkish cafe waving (unlit) cigarettes around while saying things like “those fucking Ameree-cans” and “lets get out of Afghanistan and then negotiate with the Taliban, they’ll take us seriously” and “lets send troops into Sudan… but without their guns” and “why don’t Americans take us seriously”.
04) Quebecanistan: A (not really that) large number of people living in Quebec make a lot of money trying to convince the rest of the people living in Quebec that they — the people of Quebec… well, the French speaking people of Quebec who can trace their ancestry back to the 1700’s — have become so subjugated by Canada that they must break away and form their own country: Quebecanistan. Canada, they say, is divisible. They shouted this at various decibel levels for forty or so years. Then someone said “Hey, Buddy. If Canada is divisible, so is Quebec. And if you really want your own country we could give you a slice of Quebec aboot eight inches wide and three miles long.” They called it the “Clarity Act”, and it seems to have calmed things down.
05) Term Limits For Leaders: There are none. And our former Liberal Minister of Justice actually said “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn’t guarantee any rights or freedoms” in a post-911 world.
Bonus Political Fact: At no time in our 350-year / 140-year history have Canadian politicians ever been responsible for starting a war, exploiting a colony or testing nuclear weapons under the ocean or on land.
But… there was that one time we did sort of, you know, starve the Natives into submission… then we kind of forced them to live on reserves where they couldn’t own property, then sent them to ‘Residential Schools’ where we tried to “save the child by killing the Indian”. And today most of those reserves are lucky to have running water that’s a lighter shade of brown. But I’m sure someone’s working that out.
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