Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Maple Leaf Politics

One country I have not written about, yet, is Canada.

As you might expect, they have a political structure that is largely based on the British parliamentary system. The elected lower house of the Parliament is the House of Commons. The upper house is the Senate, although it bears more resemblance to the British House of Lords than to the U.S. Senate.

Canadian senators are more or less appointed for life. They have a retirement age of 75.

There is expected to be an election for the House of Commons later this year.

The current prime minister is Stephen Harper, whose Conservative Party is the largest in the House of Commons, but without an overall majority.

The resemblance to Britain is so close that they even have the same head of state. One of Queen Elizabeth II's innumerable titles is "Queen of Canada". She is represented in Canada by the governor general, who is, for all practical purposes, the head of state.

The governor general appoints the senators, with the advice of the prime minister. What that means in practice is that the prime minister makes the appointments.

I'll give more background, and some commentary on expectations for the election, if/when the campaign gets underway.

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