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Origins of Canadian Government

  • 507 BCE

    Democracy in Ancient Greece

    Democracy in Ancient Greece
    Democracy is the belief that people should have a say in their government, either directly or through elected officials. The ancient Greeks were the first to establish a democracy in Athens, where 500 new people were randomly chosen each year to serve in the government. Only men were allowed to vote, and participation in government affairs was mandatory. This ancient Greek system influenced Canada to adopt democracy, although Canada's government is not identical to that of ancient Greece.
  • 27 BCE

    The Roman Empire

    The Roman Empire
    The Roman Empire was a big empire (powerful political unit for a group of provinces and a capital city) that existed from 27 BCE to 476 CE. It consisted of what is now 24 countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea with Rome as its capital city. The Romans made significant contributions to architecture, engineering, law and governance. They influenced Canadian government by creating a justice system with laws, punishments, and court trials and a Senate for senators to debate issues and laws.
  • 1142

    Iroquois Confederacy

    Iroquois Confederacy
    The Iroquois Confederacy was a historical alliance of 6 different Native American tribes in North America. Started in 1142 and ended in 1779. It is believed to be one of the world's first and most enduring participatory democracies. It was known for its sophisticated political system and the Great Law of Peace constitution that created an environment for participatory democracy, federalism and the separation of powers. It influenced Canadian government by the concept of representative democracy.
  • Jun 15, 1215

    The Magna Carta

    The Magna Carta
    King John of England provided a list of privileges on June 15, 1215 called the Magna Carta that laid the groundwork for individual rights by stating that the sovereign was subject to the rule of law. The rule of law is defined as the process that upholds the equality of all citizens before the law, ensures a non arbitrary form of government, and generally prohibits the arbitrary use of power. Magna Carta ideas were arguably the foundation of our democracy and the rule of law at Confederation.
  • 1272

    The British Parliament

    The British Parliament
    The British Parliament is one of the oldest continuous representative assemblies. It began in the 13th century when sheriffs of English counties provided advice to the king on financial matters and assent to new taxation. King Edward I gathered a group of advisors called the Curia Regis or the Concilium Regis to discuss political, legal and religious issues. Canada is a parliamentary democracy with the law being the ultimate authority and based their early parliament on the British parliament.
  • Divine Right of Kings

    Divine Right of Kings
    The belief that kings are above all other human beings, including their people and government, and that they obtain their authority, both religiously and politically from God. This theory was adopted by Louis XIV, King of France, as well as the Stuarts, the first Kings of the United Kingdom. It ended in English politics after the Glorious Revolution. In England, kings and queens oversaw the affairs of the countries and people, assigning governors to oversee the colonies abroad, including Canada.
  • Thomas Hobbes

    Thomas Hobbes
    Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher in the 17th century. He believed that a government headed by a king was the best form that the sovereign could take. Placing all power in the hands of a king would mean more resolute and consistent exercise of political authority. During WWII, William Lyon Mackenzie King and the Liberal party of Canada enacted the National Resources Mobilization Act which gave parliament sole control over Canada’s resources and its citizens, this resembled Hobbes’ ideas.
  • John Locke

    John Locke
    John Locke was a philosopher and physician. Locke believed that man has three natural rights: life, liberty and property. He believed that a group of individuals would be more agreeable than one dictator, if they felt that their interests and opinions were respected and heard. The Canadian parliament used their knowledge of Locke’s views to understand and set up what they felt was “responsible government”. In Canada we use democracy for our government which allows lots of people to be involved.
  • The American Revolution

    The American Revolution
    The American Revolution was both a political and military struggle that spanned 22 years when 13 of Britain's North American colonies rejected its imperial rule. Most wanted independence from the British government and monarchy, so they joined together and protested. These years of fighting won independence from Great Britain for the United States of America. The US tried to take Canada away from Britain and use Canadians to help in their revolution against Britain but they were unsuccessful.
  • The French Revolution

    The French Revolution
    The French Revolution began in 1789 and ended in 1799 with the ascent of Napoleon Bonaparte. French citizens fought against the monarchy and feudal systems because the people did not believe in the French aristocracy and the economic policies of King Louis XVI. At the time, Canada was still under British rule and technically at war with France. Liberty, equality, and democracy were ideas that emerged from the French Revolution and influenced movements for other countries and their governments.
  • The Great Depression

    The Great Depression
    The Great Depression was a decline in the economy from 1929 to 1939. Prices of shares collapsed in the US and Canada resulting in millions of people suffering, businesses collapsing, people losing their jobs, and their living conditions deteriorated. It made the Canadian government implement various policies and programs. Prime Minister, R.B. Bennett introduced relief camps. It also influenced the government to develop social welfare programs and the establishment of a welfare state in Canada.
  • Canada in the 1960s

    Canada in the 1960s
    Canada in the 1960s saw the biggest social changes including women wanting equal rights and equal pay, the fight against racial disparity, waves of non-British post-war immigration, the beginnings of the Quebec independence movement, the rise of a Red Power movement among Aboriginals, and the fight for freedom. Canada was deeply affected by the civil rights and anti-war struggles in the United States during the 1960s.