Since its Confederation in 1867, Canada had been a federation of united provinces that had once been colonies. Was this simply a change in name? No, because these provinces had agreed to hand certain powers over to a central government—a federal government—based in Ottawa.

The federal government runs the country, but each province is also run by its own provincial government. The federal and provincial governments have different powers:

The federal government deals with issues common to all provinces in the country, for example, trade, shipping, postal services, defense or currency.

The provincial government is in charge of health and education. Each province can decide how it manages the services under its responsibility.

Under both systems, federal and provincial leaders are elected by the people. During an election, the population votes the members of different political parties into power. Members elected at the federal level sit in Parliament in Ottawa, while members elected to the Quebec government sit in the Legislative Assembly in Quebec City.

In an election, citizens vote for members associated with different political parties representing various ridings. The leader of the political party that wins the most seats becomes the premier of the province. Therefore, there is a prime minister in Ottawa and a premier in each province. Both the prime minister and the premiers, who are the leaders of the party in power, appoint the ministers who will be responsible for issues such as trade, transportation, natural resources, etc. It’s their responsibility to ensure that the laws passed by the legislature are implemented.

Author: Service national du Récit de l’univers social