Running Head: FEDERALISM IN CANADA
Federalism in Canada
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FEDERALISM IN CANADA
The Canadian constitution divides the country into two autonomous levels of government
the federal government and the provincial governments. There however other forms of local
governments but these governments are not recognized by the constitution. Before
Confederation, the Canadian regions were separate provinces which decided to come together to
facilitate economic growth, defense as well as territorial expansion. Federalism was an essential
compromise since there was a strong provincial identity in some of these regions. Under the
constitution, the federal government is responsible for the enacting and implementing laws that
are effective in all parts of the government. The constitution grants the federal government its
own set of powers and jurisdictions that are independent of the provincial level of government.
The head of the federal government in Canada is the British Monarchy, the role of the monarchy,
however, is only ceremonial since most of the political power lies with the prime minister. The
second level of government is the provincial government. Canada has ten provinces namely:
Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New
Brunswick, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Each province in Canada
has its own legislative assembly (Smith, 2010). The lieutenant governor is the head of state, but
the role is ceremonial, real provincial power lies in the hands of the premiers and their cabinets
The tenets of federalism in Canada were developed in 1867 under the British North
America act which in the year 1982 was recognized as an act of the constitution. This act clearly
specifies the role of both the central and the provincial government in the running of the
government. In section 92 of the act, the provincial government is given legislative control over
institutions such as hospitals, asylums, property and civil rights that lie within their jurisdiction.
They are as a result the only ones who can legislate over these institutions. Section 93 on the
other hand grants the provinces the power to exclusively manage and control their own education
FEDERALISM IN CANADA
systems. When it comes to agriculture and immigration both levels of government are allowed to
legislate as is stipulated in section 95 of the act. The provincial government has also been given
limited powers to carry out direct taxation to raise money for the provinces. The act does not,
however, specify what exactly direct taxation is and this is an issue that has brought about great
debates concerning what areas exactly the provinces are allowed to impose taxes. Section 91 of
the act states that all powers that are not given to the provinces belong to the federal government.
These include powers such as control over the military, census, and statistics, trade and
commerce, shipping, criminal law and so on. The federal government also has extensive taxation
powers and can implement any form of taxation system it deems appropriate. In order to control
the provincial governments, the federal government also has the power to disallow a piece of
legislation that has been approved by the lieutenant governor (Smith, 2010). Furthermore, they
can seize any local works that they deem would be beneficial for Canada as a whole. An
unwritten convention, however, exists where the federal government cannot invoke the use of
Before 1949 the final court of appeal was the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
This committee interpreted some of the clauses in the act different which have ended up limiting
the powers of the central government. While the initial act stated that all those powers not given
to the prov...
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