The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is a core element to the Canadian Constitution and is a broad set of human rights that the government has pledged to Canadians. For more information on the Charter, visit the Government of Canada site.
The Canadian Human Rights Act was introduced to Parliament in 1977 and builds upon the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by prohibiting discrimination. Not tied to the constitution, this Act is legislated by government and can therefore be repealed or changed through the Houses of Parliament with a majority vote.
Violations to the Canadian Human Rights Act are addressed through the Canadian Human Rights Commission or Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
For more information on the Canadian Human Rights Act, visit the Government of Canada site.
"O Canada" was proclaimed Canada's national anthem on July 1, 1980, 100 years after it was first sung on June 24, 1880. The music was composed by Calixa Lavallée, a well-known composer; French lyrics to accompany the music were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The song gained steadily in popularity. Many English versions have appeared over the years. The version on which the official English lyrics are based was written in 1908 by Mr. Justice Robert Stanley Weir. The official English version includes changes recommended in 1968 by a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons. The French lyrics remain unaltered. For more information on the National Anthem, including its history, copies of the lyrics and sheet music, visit the Canadian Heritage website.
In Canada, a former colony of Great Britain, the legal system is based on British common law, except in Quebec where for historical reasons civil law is still used for issues of private law. Both legal systems are governed by the Constitution, the supreme law of Canada. All laws that are passed must be aligned with the Constitution in order to be valid. For an in-depth article on the legal system in Canada, visit the entry in Wikipedia.
Canada shares many holidays with its North American neighbour, the United States, as well as the United Kingdom.
- New Year's Day: January 1
- Heritage Day: 3rd Monday in February
- Good Friday: the Friday before Easter, which varies each year, occurs between March and April. For a list of Easter Sunday dates to the year 2099, click here.
- Victoria Day: Monday preceding May 25
- Labour Day: first Monday in September
- Thanksgiving: second Monday in October
- Not to be confused with American Thanksgiving, which occurs in November.
- Remembrance Day: November 11
- Christmas: December 25
- Boxing Day: December 26
Canada has two official languages, English and French. The Province of Quebec is the only province whose provincial language is just French, while New Brunswick is the only province that is officially bilingual.
Canada is made up of 10 provinces and 3 territories. The capital city of Canada is Ottawa and is the home to the Canadian Government. Going from West to East, the provinces are:
- British Columbia
• Capital city: Victoria. Largest city: Vancouver
• Capital city: Edmonton. Largest city: Calgary
• Capital city: Regina. Largest city: Saskatoon
• Capital and largest city: Winnipeg
• Capital and largest city: Toronto
• Capital city: Québec City. Largest city: Montréal
- New Brunswick
• Capital city: Fredericton. Largest city: Saint John
- Prince Edward Island
• Capital and largest city: Charlottetown
- Nova Scotia
• Capital and largest city: Halifax
- Newfoundland and Labrador
• Capital and largest city: St. John's
Territories are different in that they have no inherent jurisdiction. That is to say that they do not exercise constitutional powers in their own right, rather they exercise those that are delegated to them by the Canadian Government. The three territories in Canada are:
• Capital and largest city: Whitehorse
- Northwest Territories
• Capital and largest city: Yellowknife
• Capital and largest city: Iqaluit
For more information and history on Canada's provinces and territories, click here.
Canada's currency is the Canadian Dollar and is abbreviated with the dollar sign ($). 100 cents (¢) make up one dollar. Canadian currency has several commonly used denominations, $50, $20, $10, and $5 in banknotes and 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, $1 (commonly called the "loonie) and $2, (commonly called the toonie). Polymer notes are currently being phased in, as they are more resilient than their paper counterparts.
The Canadian Dollar is the 7th most traded currency in the world and is well respected in global markets. For the latest conversion rates, visit http://www.xe.com .
Canada is a democratic constitutional monarchy, with a Sovereign as head of State and an elected Prime Minister as head of Government.
Canada has a federal system of parliamentary government: Government responsibilities and functions are shared between federal, provincial and territorial governments.
Federal responsibilities are carried out by the Monarchy and the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of Government.
Our current monarch is Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and her representative in Canada, the Governor General, is His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston.