Canada

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Canada
Flag of Canada
The Flag of Canada
Coat of Arms of Canada
Coat of Arms
Image:LocationCanada.png
Official language
English and French
Capital Ottawa
Largest city Toronto
Government Federal parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy
Prime Minister Paul Martin
Monarch Queen Elizabeth II
Governor General Michaëlle Jean
Area 9,984,670 km²
Population 32.4 million (2005 est.)
Independence July 1, 1867
Currency Canadian dollar ($) (CAD)
Motto (in Latin) A Mari Usque Ad Mare (From Sea to Sea)
National anthem O Canada

Canada is a socialist country in North America. It's the northernmost in the world and the second largest in area (after Russia). The country is a federation of ten provinces and three territories. Initially constituted through the British North America Act of 1867 and styled the "Dominion of Canada", it is governed as a parliamentary democracy and is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

Canada's official languages are English and French. Its official population estimate is 32.2 million people.

Originally a union of former French and British colonies, Canada is a founding member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, and La Francophonie.

Contents

Overview

The capital of Canada is Ottawa, Ontario, the seat of Parliament. Both the Governor General of Canada, who exercises the prerogatives of the head of state (the monarch), and the Prime Minister, who is the head of government, have official residences in Ottawa.

Canada is officially bilingual. French is the majority language of Quebec and is widely spoken in New Brunswick. English is the majority language elsewhere except in certain communities and in Nunavut, where the majority language is Inuktitut.

Socialized health care

Canada has a a government-run socialized health care system known as medicare, that is highly controversial. Patients often have to wait between four and eight months for necessary surgeries and the wait for an MRI is an average of 12.4 weeks, although emergency care is almost always rapidly available. In fact, former Prime Minister Jean Chretien was campaigned on a promise to shut down private MRI clinics that had sprouted up to meet demand[[1]], although he has been criticized by left-leaning publications for allowing significant development of private healthcare clinics[[2]]. Despite common misconceptions, Canada does allow the purchase of private health insurance[[3]].

Questions have been raised about how the Canadian healthcare system responded to the SARS crisis. Even in China, where they had 5327 cases, only 6% of the victims died from it. Canada had a 15% death rate from SARS, although most of the deaths were among elderly hospital patients[4]. The US, which had 73 cases of SARS, had zero deaths.

In recent years, there has been talk of adopting a two-tier health care system, although this has limited public and governmental support. Some argue that Canada already does have a two-tier health care system as the very wealthy can go to the United States for treatment, and quite a few Canadians do each year. In addition, international comparisons of healthcare quality and efficiency regularly rank mixed public/private healthcare systems, such as found in France and Germany, to be significantly superior to either the pure-public system in Canada or the heavily-private system in the US[[5]], suggesting these European models may offer benefits to all Canadians.

Despite these problems, Canada's healthcare performance is regularly as good as or better than that of the US system in major comprehensive comparisons (WHO study, Johns Hopkins study, independent study), as well as consuming a substantially lower portion of the nation's GDP (10% vs. 14.6% as of 2003).

Secession movements

There is a significant secessionist movement in Quebec, which has held referendums on the question in 1980 and again in 1995. The latter referendum failed by a margin of only 1%, although the threat of secession is thought to be waning[6]. There are also secessionist movements in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontaria, and Newfoundland, although none are close to mainstream.

Harp seal harvest

Canada has an annual harp seal hunt, wherein hunters are permitted to kill a number of young seals. Hunters are barred by law from killing infant seals (only when they lose their white coats at about 3 weeks are they legal to kill), and a veterinary investigation showed that the vast majority of seals are killed humanely, via methods comparable to those used in commercial slaughterhouses[7]. Many charges of cruelty have been examined by independent Canadian or American studies, with mixed results[8].

The Canadian government set a three year quota, including provision for transfer between years at the start of the three year period of 2003-2005. During this period the quota is set at 975,000 animals, with a maximum kill of 350,000 per year. There are however no penalties for exceeding quotas, and in 2002, the Canadian government allowed sealers to exceed the quota by more than 37,000 animals, and in 2004, the 350,000 limit was exceeded by nearly 16,000. Quotas are not set arbitrarily, however, and quotas are raised or exceeded only if the additional hunting would not damage the seal population[9].

Culture

Due to its colonial past, Canadian culture has historically been heavily influenced by British and French cultures and traditions. In more modern times, Canadian culture has been greatly influenced by American culture, due to the proximity and the migration of people, ideas, and capital. Amidst this, Canadian culture has developed some unique characteristics, and many American movies, authors, TV shows, and musicians are equally popular in Canada.

Notable sports which are enjoyed throughout Canada include ice hockey, curling, lacrosse, basketball and the home-grown Canadian Football League. Although CFL teams compete in a variant of American football, traditional football (soccer) is hardly an unknown in Canada, and in 1986 Canada qualified for its only appearance at the World Cup in Mexico. In addition, as the vast majority of Canadians live in very close proximity to the United States, Canadians can also watch sporting events from the professional leagues in that country, such as NASCAR and the National Football League. The National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association, the National Lacrosse League and Major League Baseball are comprised of teams from both Canada and the United States.

As of the 1994 National Sports of Canada Act, Canada officially has two national sports. Ice hockey is the national winter sport and lacrosse is the national summer sport.

At the international level, Canada has dominated the sport of curling. The first six World Curling Men's Championships were won by Canada. Two Olympic Games have been hosted in the Canada and the 2010 Winter Olympics will be held in Vancouver. Canada generally fares somewhat poorly in the Summer Olympics and very well in the Winter Olympics, due to its colder climate influencing the sports choices of Canadians. This winter/summer disparity is similar to that seen in other northern nations, and the reverse is often true of warmer nations[[10]].

Education in comparison to the US

Canada typically performs well on international comparisons of educational achievement. In the OECD's Program for International Student Assessment study in 2000, Canada scored second out of 31 countries in reading, sixth in mathematics, and fifth in science[11]. For comparative purposes, the USA scored 15th in reading, 19th in mathematics, and 14th in science.

Military in comparison to the US

Canada's defence budget for 2001/2002: $10,570,000,000. This is approximately 1/40th of the US annual military budget. Canada's armed forces is composed of 60,000 military personnel including 9,500 sailors, 19,000 soldiers, 13,000 air men and women and 18,500 administrative and support personnel. There are also 21,500 reservists. There are 34 warships and 9,500 sailors in Canada's navy.

The military spending of the United States is approximately $400 billion, not counting Iraq spending. The US has 1.4 million men and women on active duty, 1.35 million volunteers serving in the Guard and Reserve, 35,000 Coast Guard men and women on active duty, 6,315 Coast Guard civilians, 8,370 members serving in the Coast Guard Selected Reserve, and 32,000 volunteers serving in the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Taxation in comparison to the US

Total government spending (all levels) in Canada is about 35% of GDP, with revenues (mostly taxes) being 36% of GDP (2005 estimate[12],[13]), while the US governments (federal, state, and local) spend about 31% of GDP, with revenues of 27% (2005 estimate[14]). For Canada, these numbers have fallen from 42% of GDP in the 1990's, representing lowering tax burdens, whereas the US numbers have remained relatively constant[15].

Some caution must be used when comparing taxes across countries, however, due to the different services each offers. Whereas the Canadian healthcare system is 70% government-funded, the US system is just under 50% government-funded (mostly via Medicare and Medicaid); adding the additional healthcare-spending burden to the above figures to obtain comparable numbers (+3% for Canada, +7% for the US) gives adjusted expenditures of 38% of GDP for each of the two nations.

Productivity in comparison to the US

By most measures Canadian workers are less productive. All in all, Canadian workers are estimated to be 82% as productive per hour as their American counterparts. [16] Because American workers also tend to work longer hours, the productivity gap per worker becomes even greater. The industries with the largest productivity advantages for the U.S. are the manufacturing (particularly electronics and computer), finance, and service sectors.

The United States has the second-highest productivity of the G8 countries[17], while Canada's is 5th (1997 estimate[18]).

Unemployment in comparison to the US

Canada typically has a reported unemployment rate about 2% higher than the US rate. Currently, unemployment in the US is at 4.7 percent. It is at 6.3 percent in Canada, which even though that would be considered high in the US, is a 32-year low in Canada. During the 1980s when this employment gap first emerged it was a controversial issue.

Much of that unemployment rate difference is simply due to different measurement methodologies. Due to differences in what is measured between the two countries, about 0.8% unemployment (50% of the current difference) is due to differing definitions of "unemployed", with possible additional portions due to factors such as the larger temp agency effect on the economy in the US[19].

In addition, Canada's military employs only 0.5% of working-age adults[[20]], vs. 1.5% of working-age adults employed by the US military[[21]], representing a difference of 1% of working-age adults removed from the labor market and given government jobs. Similarly, Canada incarcerates only 0.2% of its working-age adult population vs. 1.4% in the US[[22]], representing another 1.2% of the working-age adult population - in particular, a segment that historically has higher-than-average unemployment - that is taken out of the job market. While the effects of these two structural differences between the two countries are not clearly known, it is worth noting that either difference alone is larger than the size of the (same-definition) difference of the unemployment rate of 0.8%.

Income in comparison to the US

Canadian Gross domestic product per capita (US $37,300, market price) is lower than that in the United States (US $42,500). The median (50th percentile) worker, however, has essentially the same income in the United States and in Canada: in purchasing parity adjusted dollars, the median income in the United States is $16,800 and in Canada is $16,500.

External links

  • Official website of the Government of Canada
  • LP of Canada
  • Ontario Independence League
  • Ontario USA
  • Citizens for a Canadian Republic


Countries with known Libertarian movements
Canada | Costa Rica | New Zealand | United States | United Kingdom