Constitution of Canada

Status: Monarchy under Queen Elizabeth II

Elections organisation: Elections Canada

Legislature: Parliament of Canada

Canada is a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II (Queen of Canada) as head of state, represented by a governor-general appointed on the recommendation of the prime minister. The British North America Act of 1867 set up a machinery of government that has remained basically unchanged; however, the constitution is contained in the Constitution Act of 1982, which includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as procedures for amending the constitution.

The federal parliament is bicameral. The House of Commons has 308 members directly elected in general elections which, if not called earlier, must be held on the third Monday in October in the fourth calendar year following the last election. The Senate has 105 members appointed on a regional basis by the prime minister, in consultation with the cabinet. The leader of the party with the most seats in the House of Commons becomes prime minister and appoints a cabinet which has executive power at the federal level.

The constitution provides for devolution of powers from federal to provincial governments. General amendments to the constitution require the consent of the federal parliament and of seven provinces representing at least 50% of the population.