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Federal government

Five fast facts

  • The Canadian Constitution is a collection of 25 primary documents outlined in the Constitution Act, 1982: 14 Acts of the British Parliament, seven of the Canadian and four British orders-in-council.
  • The British North America Act, 1867 is the instrument that brought our Canadian federation into being, but contained no provision for amending our Constitution.
  • On April 17, 1982, the Constitution Act came into force, repatriating from Great Britain the power to amend our constitution.
  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was proclaimed as part of the new Constitution Act in 1982.
  • Canada’s Parliament consists of three parts: the Queen (our Head of State), represented by the Governor General; the appointed Senate; and the elected House of Commons.


The Constitution Act, 1982, which remains the basic element of our written Constitution, gives the federal government responsibility for matters that concern all Canadians and cross inter-provincial and international borders, such as defence, foreign affairs, the regulation of inter-provincial and international trade and commerce, criminal law, citizenship, central banking and monetary policy.




The House of Commons, the elected part of the Parliament of Canada, is made up of 308 Members who are elected to represent the people in their ridings, also called electoral districts.


Overview of Parties

In 2004, there were 12 registered parties participating in the federal general election, four of which were represented in the House of Commons.


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