USA And Canada A Comparison For Better Understanding Of Both

First off, neither system is inherently better. They are different, and are trying to accomplish and prevent different things. Second, I am Canadian so I know that system lot better. However I am not ignorant of the American system either. In university I minored in public administration. That’s not studying how to be a government worker, but the studying the structure, function, purpose of Governments. In other words public administration is the study of how governments conduct their business and politics covers the why. I think at this point I have convinced you to keep reading (or not?).

Canada and the USA have a very tightly intertwined history. We both started from predominately British colonies. There were other European countries with colonies, most notably France, but they had less influence in shaping both countries.

The first major deviation between the USA and Canada was the American Revolutionary War. I could write a lot about this war, but I will leave that to people better versed in history. At the end of the war Colonies had won the right to lead and govern themselves and they had done it through uniting for a common goal. The significant thing here is, the separation of the Loyalists to the Crown and the Revolutionaries. Loyalists mostly went to Canada, Revolutionists stayed where they were.

Now, having just won their independence the Americans set out to build their nation. Considering that they just fought for local representation, it was built heavily into the Constitution. The State (local) governments had control over almost everything. But they knew some things they needed to work together most notably defense. This is why the Federal Government was created, to manage the few things better handled at a higher level of government. The federal government was created with checks and balances to prevent any one of the three branches from getting too powerful. The intention was a federal government that was narrow in scope but powerful within it’s scope.

The Canadian system took a different path. There were rumblings of a Canadian Revolution at this time, however the influx of loyalists from the USA tipped the balance against revolution. What also happened here was that Britan set about securing the remaining Colonies. This wasn’t done with the boot and the sword, but with the pen. They created a government that was modeled after theirs. They created a system where Canadians could decide what they wanted as law, but needed final approval from the British Parliament. Here it is good to point out that Britan has only one government. The national government covers everything, to put a good point on it, after creating Canada the next thing they did was approve the construction of a sewer. Britan wanted this same thing set up in Canada, but found it impracticable. They set up a federation (two tiered system), to manage the vastness of Canada and to appease/secure the former French Colonies. They wanted one government, and gave everything they thought was important to the federal government. For everything deemed “house keeping” they created Provinces as regional government. The “house keeping” areas the British government thought unimportant? Healthcare, education, land management, transportation (excluding international) and the provinces created municipalities to help manage and distribute services. Municipalities are created and destroyed by the Provincial governments. The provinces were denied the right to impose taxes. The other thing to note is that there is a clause that allowes the federal government of Canada to change any law created by the provinces, but this has been so unpalatable that I am unaware of it ever being invoked.

So at creation, the USA had strong regional governments that cooperated through the Federal government and Canada had a strong Federal government with weak regional governments it controlled. But things didn’t stay that way in either country. In the USA, the federal government has widened its scope and it’s depth of power. When I was in university 10 years ago it was true that every time the states and federal government fought over who gets to control something the federal government has won. I would be shocked if that has changed in the last ten years. In the USA power continues to be centralized in the federal government. In Canada the opposite is true, power has decentralized toward the provinces at every turn. Largely due to the rise in importance of the areas given to the provinces. Healthcare, Education, Land management (cities and resources) have increased significantly in importance and with this rise came a rise in power for the provinces. This trend is continuing to this day.

There have been many specific events in both countries that I haven’t mentioned. The scope of the subject matter is too high. I was just trying to help people understand where we have been to better understand where we are going.


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