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Senate of Canada

The Senate is the Upper House of Canada’s Parliament. Its 105 members are appointed and hold their seats until age 75. The Senate’s purpose is to consider and revise legislation; investigate national issues; and most crucially according to the Constitution, give the regions of Canada an equal voice in Parliament. The Senate is a controversial institution. It has long been regarded by many Canadians as a place of unfair patronage and privilege. An unresolved debate continues about whether it should be reformed into an elected body accountable to the voters, or abolished.

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Political Participation in Canada

Canadians participate in the political system any time they voluntarily try to influence the outcome of an election, or a government or party policy. This can be done in various ways, from voting to campaigning for a political cause to running for political office. The highest turnout rate for a federal election was 79.4 per cent in 1958. Voter turnout in Canada declined in the 1990s and 2000s, reaching 58.8 per cent in 2008. The numbers then began trending upwards, reaching 68.3 per cent in 2015 and 67 per cent in 2019. Women, who gained the right to vote federally in 1918, vote at slightly higher rates than men. Older citizens are more politically active than younger ones, although voting among people age 18 to 34 increased sharply between 2011 and 2019.

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Monarchism

Monarchism is support for Canada’s system of government as a constitutional monarchy. Monarchism is distinct from royalism in that it is support for monarchy as a political institution, rather than for an individual monarch. Monarchism played a key role in the development of Canada and continues to be part of political and popular discourse.

Macleans

IRA Bomb Shatters the Peace

The modernistic landscape that has sprouted over London's once-derelict Docklands since the 1980s is the kind of target the Irish Republican Army loved to hit. Its centrepiece is Canary Wharf, the sometimes-maligned 52-storey office tower that is the tallest building in Britain.

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The Great Flag Debate

The long and often bitter debate over the new Canadian flag began in the House of Commons on 15 June 1964. It ended by closure on 15 December 1964. Feelings ran high among many English Canadians. Opposition leader John Diefenbaker demanded that the flag honour Canada’s “founding races” and feature the Union Jack. Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson insisted on a design that conveyed allegiance to Canada while avoiding colonial association. A prolonged, heated debate ensued. Historian Rick Archbold described it as “among the ugliest in the House of Commons history.” The new flag, designed by George Stanley with final touches by graphic artist Jacques Saint-Cyr, was approved on 15 December 1964 by a vote of 163 to 78. The royal proclamation was signed by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 January 1965. The national flag was officially unfurled on 15 February 1965.

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Communist Party of Canada

The Communist Party of Canada, founded in 1924 as the Canadian branch of the international Communist movement, is a fringe political party that advocates for a pure socialist society based on the ideas of Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx.

Macleans

Faint Hope: Background

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on August 18, 1997. Partner content is not updated.

Danny Homer’s calm, detached tone belies the fact that he is talking about the murder that put him behind bars for life. The prisoner, now 38, explains that he was a teenager living in Regina in January, 1977, when he killed Ira McDonald, a 23-year-old partner in crime.

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Château Clique

 Château Clique, nickname given to the small group of officials, usually members of the anglophone merchant community, including John MOLSON and James MCGILL, who dominated the executive and legislative councils, the judiciary and senior bureaucratic positions of LOWER CANADA until the 1830s.

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Advance Directives

An advance directive (sometimes referred to as a "living will") is a legal mechanism which enables individuals to plan for their own incapacity, and specifically for the situation where decisions have to be taken with respect to their health care after they are no longer mentally capable of making (or communicating) these decisions personally.

Editorial

Editorial: How the “Canadianized” Community of Newfoundland Joined Canada

The following article is an editorial written by The Canadian Encyclopedia staff. Editorials are not usually updated.

When the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa were repaired after a fire during the First World War, stone plaques were erected over the entrance to the Peace Tower. There were ten of them — nine bearing the coats of arms of the provinces and one left bare, to await the day when Newfoundlandjoined Canada.

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Canadian Bill of Rights

The Canadian Bill of Rights was the country’s first federal law to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms. It was considered groundbreaking when it was enacted by the government of John Diefenbaker in 1960. But it proved too limited and ineffective, mainly because it applies only to federal statutes and not provincial ones. Many judges regarded it as a mere interpretive aid. The bill was cited in 35 cases between 1960 and 1982; thirty were rejected by the courts. Though it is still in effect, the Bill of Rights was superseded by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.

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1972 Canada-Soviet Hockey Series (Summit Series)

For many Canadians, particularly baby boomers and Generation X, the eight-game hockey series between Team Canada and the national team of the Soviet Union in September 1972 provided the greatest moment in Canada’s sporting history. Most expected that Canada would handily defeat the Soviet Union, but this confidence quickly disappeared when Canada lost the first game. The series was tied heading into the final game in Moscow, which ended in dramatic fashion, with Paul Henderson scoring in the final seconds to give Canada the victory. The series became as much a Cold War political battle of democracy versus communism and freedom versus oppression as it was about hockey. The series had a lasting impact on hockey in Canada and abroad.

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Law and Society

One of the most historic ideas about the LAW is that it is based on human nature or reason, and therefore simply reflects what is natural or reasonable, enabling society to function in a just and effective manner.

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Official Languages Act (1988)

The Official Languages Act (1988) consolidates all of the changes made to the Official Languages Act of 1969, providing more detail and making them clearer within a new legislative framework. This version highlights the responsibilities of federal institutions with respect to the official languages (see also Language Policy in Canada).

This is the full-length entry about the Official Languages Act of 1988. For a plain language summary, please see The Official Languages Act (1988) (Plain Language Summary).

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NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created on 4 April 1949. It was Canada’s first peacetime military alliance. It placed the country in a defensive security arrangement with the United States, Britain, and Western Europe. (The other nine founding nations were France, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Portugal, and Italy.) During the Cold War, NATO forces provided a frontline deterrence against the Soviet Union and its satellite states. More recently, the organization has pursued global peace and security while asserting its members’ strategic interests in the campaign against Islamic terrorism. As of 2021, there were 30 member countries in NATO.

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Bomarc Missile Crisis

The CIM-10B Bomarc was the world’s first long-range, nuclear capable, ground-to-air anti-aircraft missile. Two squadrons of the missile were purchased and deployed by the Canadian government in 1958. This was part of Canada’s role during the Cold War to defend North America against an attack from the Soviet Union. Prime Minister John Diefenbaker’s refusal to equip the missiles with nuclear warheads led to a souring of Canada’s relationship with the United States, especially once the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the issue to the fore. The issue split Diefenbaker’s Cabinet and contributed to his party losing the 1963 election.