What is the difference between Canada's Parliament and the US Congress?I want to know what the difference is between Canada's Parliament and the US Congress.  

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

There are major differences between the two legislative bodies, even though they seem similar.

I find it fascinating that Canada has been ruled in one form or another by French and British monarchs since its founding.  The British Queen still has a role to play in Canadian government, amazingly.  The House of Commons passes the bills, but the queen has to approve them.

[The United States] Congress remains one of the few national assemblies that research and draft their own legislation rather than simply voting on bills created by the government in power. (enotes, see first link)

The Canadian House of Commons does draft its own legislation, but does not have complete power in enacting it because theoretically the Queen could oppose it, or the Senate.  Both are basically rubber stamps it seems.

Sources:
kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

One of the biggest differences between the Canadian Parliament and the US Congress is that Canada is still in the Commonwealth (unless something has snuck past me in this regard since 2002 ...). This means that Queen Elizabeth II is the titular Head of State and that the Parliamentarian Governor General is by definition beneath her in the governing hierarchy. This does not mean however that she has any authority over Canada's Parliament nor that Canadians are anything other than citizens of Canada, i.e., they are not subjects of the Queen.

Another difference, as pohnpei alludes to, is that the Governor General is chosen by Parliament from within Parliament, just as the British Prime Minister is chosen by the British Parliament from within the British Parliament. Contrast this with the Congressional system in which a presidential candidate, if a member of either of the Houses of Congress, resigns from Congress in order to stand for election as President. In the US Congressional system, there is a complete divide between Congress and President selection while in the Canadian Parliamentary system there must be collaboration as there is interdependency between the Parliament and Governor General selection (or the UK's Prime Minister selection).

Going one step further, it is Parliament that can oust the Governor General (GG) if they grow displeased with the GG's conduct or policy. This is how Tony Blair was invited out of the role of Prime Minister in the UK.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Congress is bicameral, Parliament is not really.  The House of Lords does not have any real power the way that the Senate does.  Parliament is part of the executive branch as well as being the legislative branch.  The Prime Minister, for example, is a Member of Parliament.  This means that David Cameron is the head of government, which is an executive position, while still being a member of the legislative branch.  This cannot happen in Congress where the legislature and the executive are strictly separated.

One final difference – Congress can be split between two parties.  Parliament never really is.  The PM is selected by the majority party (or, as now, by a coalition).  So Parliament is always more or less unified behind one party's platform.

rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I assume that you are referring to the British Parliament, and not parliaments in general. There are many differences, but perhaps the most visible one is the relationship between Parliament and the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is technically chosen by the monarch, but must maintain the support of the majority party (or a coalition of parties, as is now the case) to remain in power. So in effect, this means that the Prime Minister is the leader of the majority party in Parliament. The Prime Minister serves as the chief executive of the nation. 

discussion1984's profile pic

discussion1984 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

A horrible remark: "Nothing." In both cases, a bunch of rich elites stand around making snooty speaches about they're going to do, while the rest of us sit back unable to do anything.

noobcakes4603's profile pic

noobcakes4603 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

I assume that you are referring to the British Parliament, and not parliaments in general. There are many differences, but perhaps the most visible one is the relationship between Parliament and the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is technically chosen by the monarch, but must maintain the support of the majority party (or a coalition of parties, as is now the case) to remain in power. So in effect, this means that the Prime Minister is the leader of the majority party in Parliament. The Prime Minister serves as the chief executive of the nation. 

I was acutally talking about the Canadian parliament.

 

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