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  Canada is a constitutional monarchy with Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, as head of state. The country is a parliamentary democracy with a federal system of parliamentary government. The monarch is represented by the Governor General, who exercises almost all of the duties of the Queen. The body directing the use of executive powers in the Cabinet, a committee of the appointed Privy Council made up by the Prime Minister, who acts as head of government. The Governor General appoints the leader of the political party that gains majority in the House of Commons. The leader of the party with the second most number of seats in the House of Commons becomes the Leader of the Opposition and helps maintain a system of checks and balances in the government.

The federal parliament is made up of the Queen and two houses: the House of Commons and the Senate. Members of the House of Commons are elected by simple plurality in an electoral district. Members of the Senate are appointed by the Prime Minister and formally approved by the Governor General. Senators serve until age 75.


Updated: 19 March 2008

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