The United States (US) and Canadian governments have practiced federalism, which has both similar and different features. The question set by some scholars regarding the two nations deal with similar and different elements of federalisms they use. The nature of American federalism demonstrates some differences compared to that of Canada because the two countries have different constitutions. Nevertheless, despite having differences, the two federalisms are similar in some aspects. The current essay looks forward to comparing and contrasting federalisms in both the US and Canada.
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The two nations have properly written federal laws in their constitutions. The constitutions form the foundation, on which federal political structures for the two countries are based and function (Hueglin, & Fenna, 2015). In both constitutions, there are clearly written provisions used for constitutional amendments to meet socio-economic and political requirements and demands. Possession of such constitutions and the amendment provisions encourage the nations to be flexible with the law as changes occur in the world order and the societies, in particular, all the time. Therefore, the two federal constitutions have much in common.
Although the US Constitution resembles the Canadian one regarding the election regulatory functions, specific variations exist, as well. In the US, the federal constitution fundamentally determines federal elections for both nations, placing greater stress on the US rather than on Canada (Hueglin, & Fenna, 2015). Moreover, federal elections are controlled by both the state and federal laws. A good example is that the election process and ballots vary among the American states (Devins, & Fisher, 2015). It means that both the state and the national government have an influence on the same electioneering process. However, the situation in Canada is entirely different because the federal elections are totally guided and governed by the noble federal laws in the Canada Elections Act (Bickerton & Gagnon, 2014). This law not only establishes but also mandates the non-partisan Chief Electoral Officer’s department.
The roles of the senators in the two nations are similar, but the process of their appointment and election for the job varies. Their functions are to protect the rights and interests of those under their jurisdiction in the regions (Hueglin, & Fenna, 2015). On the other hand, the Canadian federal government performs the responsibility of appointing the senators (Bickerton & Gagnon, 2014). However, the US senators used to be appointed by the state legislators. Currently, they are directly elected by the state’s people (Devins, & Fisher, 2015). Such a situation has given the people within the states an extensive possibility of direct participation in the choosing of their leaders. Therefore, the US citizens elect their senators, while Canadians appoint them.
The US has a different federal election if compared to that of its neighbor, Canada. The federal government in the US comprises of the Congress, which has the House of Representatives and Senate, and the Vice President and the President (Maisel & Brewer, 2009). Every American directly participates in the votes of the senator, representatives, and the president. On the contrary, the Canadian parliamentary system is similar to the one in Britain. Members of the parliament are voted indirectly (Bickerton & Gagnon, 2014). The winning political party is the one that controls most of the seats in the House of Commons and forms the government with the leader of the particular party assuming responsibility as the Prime Minister. Furthermore, the three governmental branches that comprise of the legislature, judiciary, and the executive are delineated from each other and separately elected in the US (Bickerton & Gagnon, 2014). However, the situation in Canada is different because both the legislature and the executive branches are interwoven (Bickerton & Gagnon, 2014). Therefore, federalist structures and how members of the federal governments in the two countries fill the given positions vary for both the US and Canada.
Moreover, the requirements for the top leadership in two states vary considerably. In the US, the President and the Vice President must be born or have resided in the country for a period not less than 14 years, and their age should be at least 35 years (Maisel & Brewer, 2009). In conjunction with the law, both the President and the Vice President should serve only a four-year term, and can seek re-election for only one additional term. It means that no president is supposed to serve for more than two terms. It is different from the Canadian federalism (Hueglin, & Fenna, 2015). The law doesn’t specify the age, place of birth or residence of the Prime Minister in addition to having no elected Vice Prime Minster on the ballot.
In addition, the Senate shows some differences between the Federals, as well. The senators in the US are elected directly to serve for six years of staggered terms. The country has Senate elections every two years, meaning that one-third of the Senate is elected after every two years. Candidates for the Senate must meet constitutional requirements. For one to be eligible for a senatorial seat in the country, he or she must be a citizen for at least nine years residing in the given state and should have established an age of 30 years and above (Maisel & Brewer, 2009). However, the Canadian senators are only appointed rather than elected Compared to the US. The senators are appointed by the Prime Minister depending on the region they come from and are entitled to serve until the retirement age of 75 years (Bickerton & Gagnon, 2014). According to the federal constitution of Canada, eligibility for a senatorial seat is similar to that in the US because the set age limit for a candidate is 30 years and above and he or she must be citizens in the respective territory or residence. Therefore, senatorial eligibility requirements for the two Federals are similar to the only difference in the way how one ascends to power; either through appointment or election.
The US House of Representatives and the Canadian House of Commons vary widely concerning choosing the respective members and their eligibility criteria. The US representatives are entitled to serve for a period not exceeding two year-term after conducting a direct election (Devins, & Fisher, 2015). Eligible candidates for the noble positions should meet the age requirements for at least 25 years and have been citizens for seven or more years in addition to being residents of the state in which they stand in elections. All these requirements are clearly stipulated in the US Constitution. However, every member of the society qualifies to be a member of parliament except for a few instances (Bickerton & Gagnon, 2014). For example, those citizens who are unable to vote, those who are convicted of federal fraud, prison inmates, sheriffs, election officers, and the legislatures do not have the capacity to have a prestigious position. Considering such information, it is clear that eligibility for these posts varies between the two nations as stipulated in their respective federal constitutions.
Nevertheless, the leadership of the US States and Canadian provinces is under the helm of governors. It is a feature, which makes the two nations similar. However, differences are visible in regard to who is responsible for giving the governors their particular positions. In Canada, the governor is not only appointed but also paid by the federal government. In addition, the federal government has the responsibility of removing the appointed governors. On the contrary, the governor of the US is elected by all the people who vote in the respective state.
At the same time, the two nations have judiciary systems under federal control. In Canada, all upper echelons of the judicial system, such as the Supreme Court of Canada and many others are under the strict control of the federal governments (Bickerton & Gagnon, 2014). It makes control over the court system a national issue. However, the US is different, since it has both federal and state courts. Consequently, the control and governance of the courts depend on whether the court is a federal or a state one. State courts are governed by the state, while the federal government controls the federal courts. Such distribution promotes the decentralization of the judiciary system. Therefore, the court system has differences despite the existence of similarities.
Under the two federal governments, the legislative systems form an area of interest showing some minor similarities. Nevertheless, the differences are conspicuous. Normally, they concern the role, responsibility, and the function of individual legislators. The US legislatures are often described in line with their function of lawmaking (Mason & Stephenson, 2015). The situation is entirely different in regard to the Canadian Federalism. In this nation, legislative functions are described as the provision of not only criticism but also legitimation of the federal government’s programs (Bickerton & Gagnon, 2014). One thing that causes the difference is that the Canadian executive arm of the federal government is a very powerful partner in the system.
The other difference in federalism deals with the way the presidential system is related to congressional powers in the two nations. In the US, the president or a cabinet member has no multiple powers, such as members of the Congress (Devins, & Fisher, 2015). Neither the president nor any cabinet member should be members of the Congress. It is caused by the fact that they cannot introduce or defend a Bill in addition to answering questions and protecting the principles of the given policies. Furthermore, members of both House cannot be members of the Cabinet, except the president. In Canada, the situation is entirely different. The government forms a basis for the concentration of powers (Bickerton & Gagnon, 2014). Canadian ministers and the Prime Minister are members of one house or should receive a seat in any of two houses within a very short time following an appointment. Although it is not indicated in the constitution, the custom has allowed it. The introduction of Bills is the responsibility of the minister who should be in Parliament. Contrary to the US system, the minister should be active in the parliament to defend the government’s Bills, provide answers to questions raised regarding government policies and actions, as well as protect the given policies or actions. A close look at such a system reveals that the processes occurring in the American government are opposite to the ones occurring in Canada.
In conclusion, both the American and Canadian governments are based on federalism. The two Federals have written constitutions that stipulate the structural and functional composition of the three arms of government among other things. However, constitution implementation processes in both countries show some similarities and differences. The differences relate to the matters of having the leaders of the federal governments assume offices. Moreover, the US is known for conducting elections, while in the Canadian system, appointments are common, although elections are done for some of the positions. The methods elections are organized in the two Federals vary to a certain extent, as well. Finally, the functions of the executive, judiciary, and legislative branches indicate some variations between the Federals.