The Canadian constitutional system

Canada is a parliamentary democracy influenced by the British form of government. There is a federal level of government responsible for matters of national interest and international affairs. There are 10 provincial governments whose legislative powers are discussed further in this section. In addition, the federal government has established three northern territories – the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut – each with a government that has substantial control over local matters within their respective territories. Although these territories operate similarly to provinces, they are creatures of federal delegation of powers. Finally, there are municipal corporations established by provincial statutes, which govern matters such as land use planning and other matters of strictly local concern, as delegated by the provinces. In addition to these levels of government, Canada’s Indigenous populations may have the right to be consulted with respect to matters that affect their asserted or proven Indigenous or treaty rights and, as a result of treaties or other types of agreements or treaties, may exercise self-government in certain areas.
More in this section:

  • Overview of Canada’s political organization and legal heritage
  • Distribution of legislative powers
  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • Human rights legislation
  • Electoral process

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In this guide: