Mid-Term Essay: Comparative Federalism
Federalism is a system of government that divides power between the national and state
level. This system of government allows states to share power with the national government and
permits the central government from gaining complete authority. The United States very
well-known for its federalist system of government. With power given to state and local
governments, the United States maintains a well-balanced government. Another country with a
successful federalist system of government, correspondingly, is Canada. Resembling the United
States, who has three different levels of government (local, state, and federal), the Canadian
government has three levels of government which consist of the federal, provincial and
municipal levels. Both governments bring about the same fundamental of federalism, but there
are many differences, as well as similarities, between the American and Canadian government.
Both the United States and Canada have a federal system of government, but both contain
similarities and differences despite the same system. At the federal level, Canada is a
constitutional monarchy as opposed to the United States, which is a republic. Constitutional
monarchy, system of government in which a monarch shares power with a constitutionally
organized government (Britannica). The monarch of Canada, currently Queen Elizabeth II,
appoints prime ministers and governor generals that carry out roles similar to the President of the
United States, such as serving as Commander-in-Chief. Another difference is that the United
States’ legislative branch of government is Congress and Canada’s is Parliament. In the
legislative branch, Canada has a House of Commons and Senate, and Congress has a House of
Representatives and Senate as well (marianopolis). Both congress and parliaments pass/write
laws, but each also take place in different roles. For example, the United States uses a checks and
balance system that allows each branch to influence one another. The role of Congress is to keep
the president in “check”. Congress keeps the president in check to maintain balance and stability
within the government. Next, at the state/provincial level, both states in the United States and
provinces in Canada are able to compose their own laws going off of the ones a higher official
has created. State powers, also known as reserved powers, are established by the tenth
amendment in the constitution which states that, “The powers not delegated to the United States
by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the states respectively, or to
the people.” This allows states to regulate education and tax which are similar to provinces.
Although, each state in the United States has governors, but in Canada, there are officers who are
typically appointed by the Governor General (justice). The United States allows citizens to vote
on their representatives; they are not appointed by a higher official. Lastly, at the municipal/local
level of government, there is a noticeable difference between the two. For the local level of
government in Canada, it is typically dominated by the provincial government as they control the
economics and maintain strict control on laws (mapleleafweb). Meanwhile, local government
officials are typically elected and not overshadowed by the state. Despite the differences, local
governments in Canada and in the United States are alike due to the fact that they are responsible
for educational institutions, recreational activities, and local transportation.
While the United States and Canada each run fruitful governments, both have room for
improvement. For example, the United States is the only developed nation that doesn’t have a
national health care system. On the other hand, Canada has had national health insurance ever
since the Medical Care Act was passed in 1966 (Blankenau 41). While universal health care
might seem important to most people, conservative American viewpoints disagree. One of the
main reasons why the United States does not have universal health care is that most Americans
would rather be independent. The United States has always been for restricted government
influence in their country and national health care is the exact opposite of that. Additionally,
National Health Care would result in higher taxes for everyone, and Americans can be selfish
enough to not want to pay extra money for something that isn’t benefiting them. Another policy
that the United States should consider from Canada is their immigration policy. Immigration is a
big deal at the moment with the United States. While the United States has recently adapted to a
stricter immigration policy with travel bans, Canada has remained relatively open and flexible
with their immigration policy over the year. United States immigration law relies on congress,
which makes it difficult to change (Woroboy 432). Canada appoints a minister of immigration,
making it easier to change their policy. This allows more entrance for immigrants and refugees,
who help diversify their country and provides the nation with more workers, which may be what
the United States needs with their capitalist economy. Seeing that the United States was founded
off of immigrants, it should be considered for them to at least have a more open-minded policy.
While the United States could learn and improve some of their laws from Canada, Canada can
also change as well. One change Canada could consider would be to change how their Senators
are appointed. The Governor General appoints the Senate members and those members can serve
until they are 75 years of age. This may not have a negative effect, but there should be more of a
say into who should be in control. Seeing as they can work until the age of 75, there should be a
more open discussion with the citizens over the decision of who writes their laws. Canada could
revamp their system to hold elections, like the United States, that would allow citizens to have
their own voice.
All things considered, United States’ government is very alike but unique compared to
Canada’s.. According to Pew Research center, 63% of Americans reported favorable responses
for local governments, 57% of Americans reported favorable responses for State Governments,
but only 28% rated favorably for the national government (Maciag). From November, 2001 to
March, 2013, Federal government survey ratings have declined from an 80% favorable rate to
the 28% that was recorded. State and Local governments have remained pretty constant, though.
On the contrary, 49% of Canadians said they held a favorable view of either the federal or
provincial government from the Huffington Post (Grenier). 35% thought that Canada’s quality of
government ranked either as world class or above average. With that being said, it is evident that
Canada’s government have a strong relationship with its citizens and with the states.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said to the American government, who is losing the trust of the
people due to changes in leadership and regulation.
Both Canada and American governments operate under the same system of federalism
within their government. Each country govern in their own way, but could take something from
the other. Overall, both governments have been successful in maintaining liberty and equality
among the citizens and the other levels of government. The United States and Canada both have
shown their true colors with their leadership.
Blankenau, Joe. "The Fate of National Health Insuracne in Canada and the United States: A
Multiple Streams explanation." ?Policy Studies Journal ? (2001). Article.
Britannica, The editors of Encyclopedia. ?britannica ?. n.d. 26 July 2017.
Grenier, Eric. "Half Of Canadians Unhappy with Federal, Provincial Governments." n.d.
huffingtonpost. ? Article. 26 July 2017.
justice ?. n.d. 26 July 2017.
Local Government in Canada: Organization ; Basic Institutions | Mapleleafweb.com ?. N.p., n.d.
Web. 26 July 2017.
. "Public Approval of State and Local Government Rises, Federal Rating Tumbles." ?Governing
Magazine: State and Local Government News for America's Leaders ?. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2017.
"Quebec History." ?Faculty.marianopolis.edu ?. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2017.
Woroby, T. "Immigration Reform in Canada and the United States: How Dramatic, How
different? ." ?American Review of Canadian Studies ? (2015): 538. Article.