Immigration policy is the most explicit part of a government's population policy. In a democratic state such as Canada, immigration (migrants entering Canada) – is the most common form of regulating the population. Since Confederation, immigration policy has been tailored to grow the population, settle the land, and provide labour and financial capital for the economy. Immigration policy also tends to reflect the racial attitudes or national security concerns of the time.2
Under Canada’s federal system, the powers of government are shared between the federal government, provincial governments and territorial governments. The territories — Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon — are governed by their respective governments, which receive their legislative authority (the ability to create laws) from the federal government. Ottawa has given territorial governments authority over public education, health and social services, and the administration of justice and municipal government. More and more of these powers have been handed down from the federal government in a process called devolution. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is the federal ministry responsible for the territories.
“Peace, order and good government” are the words used in section 91 of the British North America Act of 1867 (now Constitution Act, 1867) to define the Canadian Parliament’s lawmaking authority in relation to provincial authority. The phrase’s vague and broad definition of Parliament’s authority over provincial matters has caused tensions between federal and provincial governments over the scope of powers since Confederation. It has come to be considered the Canadian counterpart to the United States’ “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The Letters Patent Constituting the Office of Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, usually shortened to Letters Patent, 1947, was an edict issued by King George VI that expanded the role of the governor general, allowing him or her to exercise prerogatives of the sovereign. While Letters Patent delegated Crown prerogatives to the governor general, the sovereign remains Head of State.
The balance of payments, or balance of international payments, is an accounting statement of the economic transactions that have taken place between the residents of one country (including its government) and the residents of other countries during a specified time, usually a year or a quarter.
The lieutenant-governor combines the monarchical and the federal principle in provincial governments. Although the lieutenant-governor is appointed by the Governor General on the prime minister's advice, in the words of an 1892 decision by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, a lieutenant-governor "is as much the representative of Her Majesty, for all purposes of provincial government, as the Governor-General himself is for all purposes of Dominion Government."
Fiscal policy is the use of government taxing and spending powers to manage the behaviour of the economy. Most fiscal policy is a balancing act between taxes, which tend to reduce economic activity, and spending, which tends to increase it — although there is debate among economists about the effectiveness of fiscal measures.
Monetary policy refers to government measures taken to affect financial markets and credit conditions, for the purpose of influencing the behaviour of the economy. In Canada, monetary policy is the responsibility of the Bank of Canada, a federal crown corporation that implements its decisions through manipulation of the money supply.
Coalition governments are created when different political parties co-operate by forming a temporary alliance large enough to enjoy the confidence of Parliament, allowing them to form a government. Members of all parties in the coalition are appointed to Cabinet. This sometimes happens when no single party has achieved a majority of seats in the House of Commons or provincial legislature. Federal coalitions normally appear during periods of crisis such as war or political breakdown. The strengthening of party affiliations and the development of the party system since Confederation has made coalitions more difficult to negotiate. Politicians have become wary of the long-term results of coalitions and are reluctant to introduce them.
Under the Constitution, the federal government has power, through immigration laws, to remove (or deport) foreign-born people from the country. The conditions for deportation have changed over the years, and deportation has been used for political as well as security purposes. Canadian deportation policy – often controversial – provides a window into the concerns of the state over the course of its history.
The term Member of Parliament (MP) refers to individuals elected to represent a single federal electoral district (or “riding”) in the House of Commons. As elected representatives, MPs have three main duties: legislating in Parliament, representing their riding and political party, and serving their constituents’ needs. MPs occupy different roles and levels of influence in government. They hold office until Parliament is dissolved — typically four year terms — and can serve infinite mandates, so long as they are re-elected. Any Canadian citizen who is at least 18 years old on election day can run for office. Most MPs are elected as a member of a political party, but some may campaign and sit as independents. There are 338 seats for Members of Parliament in the House of Commons.