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Government

Canada uses a federal form of democratic government that brings together a number of different political communities under a common government for mutual purposes, and separate regional governments for the particular needs of each region. This form of government takes into account Canada's geographical realities, the diversity of its cultural communities and its dual legal and linguistic heritage.

Canada has three levels of government: federal, provincial and territorial, and municipal (local or regional).

Within the federal structure, elected officials - the Cabinet of ministers under the leadership of the Prime Minister - make up the chief decision-making body. The federal government leads the country's democratic system of governance through consultations with other elected officials, provincial and municipal representatives, and the Canadian public.

The principal role of the Canadian government is to ensure and support the country's economic performance. Its other responsibilities include national defence, interprovincial and international trade and commerce, immigration, banking and the monetary system, criminal law and fisheries. The federal government also oversees such industries as aeronautics, shipping, railways, telecommunications and atomic energy.

Provincial and territorial governments organize themselves similarly to the federal structure and are responsible for such matters as education, property and civil rights, the administration of justice, the hospital system, natural resources within their borders, social security, health and municipal institutions.

Recently, the federal government has begun transferring greater responsibility for some programs and services to the provinces. Examples of this include labour-market training, and mining and forestry development.

Local and regional governments play a significant role in areas that include the delivery of education, land development, local business regulations, and civic and cultural activities. The structures of local and regional governments vary throughout the country.

Find out more information about government.

(see also "Political and legal organization")

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Date Modified:
2009-10-02