Canadian Citizenship (How Canadians govern themselves)

Canada is is a federal state, a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy

There are federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments in Canada.

The British North America Act or the Constituational Act in 1867 defined the responsibilites of the provincial and federal government.

Federal government takes responsibilities for the matters of national and international concerns. These include defence, foreign policy, interprovincial trade and communications, currency, navigation, criminal law and citizenship.

The provinces are responsible for municipal government, education, health, natural resources, property and civil rights, and highways.

The federal government and the provinces share jurisdiction over agriculture and immigration.

Every province has its own elected Legislative Assembly, like the House of Commons in Ottawa. We have 3 territories that are too small to be called Province.

Parliamentary Demcracy: People elect members to the house of common in Ottawa and provincial and territorial legislatures.

These representatives are responsible for passing laws, approving and monitoring expenditures, and keeping the government accountable

Cabinet ministers are responsible to the elected representatives, which means they must retain the “confidence of the House” and have to resign if they are defeated in a non-confidence vote.

Openning of the parliment 1957.

Three parts of the parliment: the Sovereign (Queen or King), the Senate and the House of Commons.

Provincial legislatures comprise the Lieutenant Governor and the elected Assembly.

In the federal government, the Prime Minister selects the Cabinet ministers and is responsible for the operations and policy of the government.

The House of Commons is the representative chamber, made up of members of Parliament elected by the people, traditionally every four years.

Senators are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister and serve until age 75.

Bills are proposal for new laws and they get reviewd by the house of commons and senate. For bills to become laws they need to pass both chambers and get royal approval granted by the governor general.

Canada’s Head of State is a Sovereign. The head of the government is the prime minister.

David Johnston, 28th Governor General since Confederation. Governor General represents the Sovereign in Canada and is appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the prime minister. Usually for 5 years. In each of the ten provinces, the Sovereign is represented by the Lieutenant Governor, who is appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister, also normally for five years.

Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories.

Three branches of government: the Executive, Legislative and Judicial.

Each provincial and territorial government has an elected legislature where provincial and territorial laws are passed. The members of the legislature are called members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs), members of the National Assembly (MNAs), members of the Provincial Parliament (MPPs) or members of the House of Assembly (MHAs), depending on the province or territory.

In each province, the Premier has a role similar to that of the Prime Minister in the federal government, just as the Lieutenant Governor has a role similar to that of the Governor General. In the three territories, the Commissioner represents the federal government and plays a ceremonial role.

Supreme Court of Canada: 9 judges appointed by the Governor General.


Canadian Citizenship preparation (Who we are)

Canada has inherited the oldest continuous. constitutional tradition in the world

Canada is the only constitutional monarchy in North America

Our institutions uphold a commitment to Peace, Order, and Good Government, a key phrase in Canada’s original constitutional document in 18677, the British North America Act.

“Great Dominion.”

Canada has three founding peoples—Aboriginal, French and British.

From the 1800s until the 1980s, the federal government placed many Aboriginal children in residential schools to educate and assimilate them into mainstream Canadian culture. The schools were poorly funded and inflicted hardship on the students; some were physically abused. Aboriginal languages and cultural practices were mostly prohibited. In 2008, Ottawa formally apologized to the former students.

Today, the term Aboriginal peoples refers to three distinct groups:

Indian refers to all Aboriginal people who are not Inuit or Métis. In the 1970s, the term First Nations began to be used. Today, about half of First Nations people live on reserve land in about 600 communities while the other half live off-reserve, mainly in urban centres.

The Inuit, which means “the people” in the Inuktitut language, live in small, scattered communities across the Arctic. Their knowledge of the land, sea and wildlife enabled them to adapt to one of the harshest environments on earth.

The Métis mixed Aboriginal and European ancestry, the majority of whom live in the Prairie provinces. They come from both French- and English-speaking backgrounds and speak their own dialect, Michif.

About 65% of the Aboriginal people are First Nations, while 30% are Métis and 4% Inuit.

the majority of Francophones live in the province of Quebec, one million Francophones live in Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba, with a smaller presence in other provinces.

New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province.

During the war between Britain and France, more than two-thirds of the Acadians were deported from their homeland. , known as the “Great Upheaval”.

British style: English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish

Getting ready for Canadian Citizenship Test (Rights and Responsibilities)

One of the important topics covered in the book “Discover Canada” is the rights and responsibilities of a Canadian Citizen. Here are my notes on this section:

Rights and Responsibilities of a Canadian Citizen

Canadian law has several sources, including laws passed by Parliament and the provincial legislatures, English common law, the civil code of France and the unwritten constitution that we have inherited from Great Britain.

Canadians have 800- year old tradition of ordered liberty, which dates back to the signing of Magna Carta in 1215 in England (also known as the Great Charter of Freedoms), including:

  • Freedom of conscience and religion;

  • Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of speech and of the press;

  • Freedom of peaceful assembly; and

  • Freedom of association

Habeas corpus, the right to challenge unlawful detention by the state, comes from English common law.

The Constitution of Canada was amended in 1982

  • Mobility Rights — Canadians can live and work anywhere they choose in Canada, enter and leave the country freely, and apply for a passport.

  • Aboriginal Peoples’ Rights — The rights guaranteed in the Charter will not adversely affect any treaty or other rights or freedoms of Aboriginal peoples.

  • Official Language Rights and Minority Language Educational Rights — French and English have equal status in Parliament and throughout the government.

  • Multiculturalism — A fundamental characteristic of the Canadian heritage and identity. Canadians celebrate the gift of one another’s presence and work hard to respect pluralism and live in harmony.

Citizenship Responsibilities

  • Obeying the law
  • Taking responsibility for oneself and one’s family
  • Serving on a jury
  • Voting in elections
  • Helping others in the community
  • Protecting and enjoying our heritage and environment

There is no compulsory military services.

Getting ready for the Canadian Citizenship Test (History)

I finally recieved an invitation letter to sit my Canadian Citizenship test early January 2015. I am very excited and have started to prepare myself for the test. The main resource recommended for preparation for this test is a book called Discover Canada. Canadian citizenship and Immigration sends each applicant a paper copy of this book, when they initiate the processing of the applications.

I started reading this book today, and surprisingly I am enjoying it. It’s a great way to know more about the country I’m living in. I know more about the history of Canada now and some of the terms people use are more meaningful to me now (such as the Great Depression).

Anyway, I decided to put my notes up here to help the future applicants with their preparation process. Today the focus is the history of Canada:

Important dates for Canadian Citizenship test

1497 exploration of the North America area started, Newfoundland was claimed for England.
1550: Name Kanata was heard.
1604, first European settlement north of Florida
1608 fortress in Quebec
1701 peace between French and Iroquois
1774 Quebec Act (Religious freedom for Catholics, permitted them to hold public office, French Civil law while maintaining British Criminal Law).
1776 separation of the state
1792 black Nova Scotians left to establish Freetown, Sierra Leone (West Africa), a new British colony for freed slaves.
Act of 1791: Upper and Lower Canada (Name of Canada Official, legislative assemblies elected by people.
1793 Upper Canada became the first province to move toward abolition of slavery
1833: Abolishment of Slavery through the Empire.
1812: The war between US and Canada in June.
1813: Americans burned the government house and Parliament building in York (Toronto).
1814: Canadians Burned down White House
1837-1838: Armed Rebellions
1840: upper and lower Canada were united as the province of Canada
1847-1848: Nova Scotia full responsible government
1864-1867: Confederation
1867- British North America Act
July 1 1867: The dominion of Canada was officially born.
1867: Canada’s first prime minister
1869: Metis took over Fort Garry.
1870: Establishment of Manitoba (because of the war with Metis)
1873: Establishment of NWMP: North West Mounted Police by prime minister Macdonald
1914: Start of world war I
1916: Women got the right to vote in Manitoba
1918: End of world war I (November 11)
1917: Federal right to vote for women to nurses then … by 1918 almost all women had the right to vote.
1921: Assignment of national colors.
1940: Qubebec granted the right of voting to women.
1929: Stock Market crashed: great depression of dirty thirties. Farmers in west were hit by low grain prices and drought.
1934: Bank of Canada was created.
1944- June 6, d Day
1945: end of world war II

Important people:

  • John Cabot: First person who draw the map of Canada’s east coast
  •  Jacues Cartier: First to European to explore ST Lawrence River and set eyes on present day Quebec city
  •  John Graves Simcoe First Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada and abolished slavery
  •  Shawnee led by Chief Tecumseh: First Nations helped Canadians with the war with the states
  •  Major-General Sir Isaac Brock : Captured Detroit in 1812 war
  •  Lieutenant-Colonel Charles de Salaberry: Turned back 4000 American Invaders south of Montreal
  •  Major-General Robert Ross: Burned down white house
  •  Lord Durham: Suggested that upper and lower Canada should be merged, also suggested to assimilate into English speaking Protestant culture
  • Sir Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine: a champion of democracy and French language rights became the first leader of a responsible government (like prime minister) in Canada.
  •  King George V: assigned Canada’s national colours (white and red) in 1921, the colours of our national flag today His face used to be on $1 bills
  •  Sir John Alexander Macdonald: a Father of Confederation became Canada’s first Prime Minister. Born in Scotland
  •  Louis Riel: father of Manitoba
  •  Gabriel Dumont: the Métis’ greatest military leader
  •  Sir Wilfrid Laurier: became the first French-Canadian prime minister since Confederation and encouraged immigration to the West. His portrait is on the $5 bill
  •  Agnes Macphail: a farmer and teacher, became the first woman MP in 1921
  •  Dr. Emily Stowe: First woman to practice medicine in Canada and the leader of women’s suffrage movement to gain voting.

Important locations:

  • First place John Cabot set foot on: Newfoundland and Capre Breton
  •  Democracy: Nova Scotia first, then PE, then New Brunswic
  •  Rebellions started in Montreal and Toronto
  •  The first colony to attain full responsible government was Nova Scotia
  •  The first province to grant voting to women was Manitoba

Important Notes:

Country of Canada first included: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia. The government had two levels: Provincial and Federal. Each province would elect its own legislature and have control of such areas as education and health.

July 1 was initially called the dominion day.

Sir Leonard Tilley, an elected official and Father of Confederation from New Brunswick, suggested the term Dominion of Canada in 1864. He was inspired by Psalm 72 in the Bible.

Parliament has recognized January 11 as Sir John A. Macdonald Day. His portrait is on the $10 bill

Sir Wilfrid Laurier became the first French-Canadian prime minister since Confederation and encouraged immigration to the West. His portrait is on the $5 bill.

First world war: Canadian corps: around 600,000 volunteers.

60,000 Canadians were killed and 170,000 were wounded in World War I.

Bluebirds: Nurses served in Royal Canadian Army.

After the First World War, the British Empire evolved into a free association of states known as the British Commonwealth of Nations. Canada remains a leading member of the Commonwealth to this day, together with other successor states of the Empire such as India, Australia, New Zealand, and several African and Caribbean countries.

At the time of Second World War Newfoundland was a separate British entity.

44,000 Canadians were killed were killed in Second World War.

At the end of the Second World War, Canada had the third-largest navy in the world.

Expansion of the Dominion

1867 — Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick
1870 — Manitoba, Northwest Territories (N.W.T.)
1871 — British Columbia
1873 — Prince Edward Island
1880 — Transfer of the Arctic Islands (to N.W.T.)
1898 — Yukon Territory
1905 — Alberta, Saskatchewan
1949 — Newfoundland and Labrador
1999 — Nunavut


$1: King George V.
$5:Sir Wilfrid Laurier
$10: Sir John A. Macdonald

Canadian Citizenship Application Process

Among all the application processes I have gone through in Canada, I find the citizenship application the most ridiculously long one. I submitted my application mid-March 2013; since then, all I could do is waiting. The security check of the application was finished and the case was received by the local office in November 2013. Since then, I have been in the lineup for citizenship test.; a lineup that has lasted more than a year so far. It’s a bit frustrating. Especially considering that I need to apply for a US visa for each entry to the states.

On the other hand, I have applied for another US visa a couple months ago. I have been waiting for the administrative processing portion of that application to finish for more than 60 days now. I have received eleven US visas so far and none of them took longer than a month. I am not sure what’s going on this time. I had a trip planned to the states which I had to cancel. I had to pay around $400 penalty on that cancellation. Now I have another trip booked for the end of December. I am not looking forward to donating more money to the AC charity! In case you are wondering why my hair is turning white.