North America

Canada Brief History

The first residents of Canada were Indian peoples, especially the Inuit (Eskimo). Explorer Leif Eriksson reached the coast of Canada (Labrador and Nova Scotia) probably in the year 1000, but the story of the white man in the country began in 1497 when John Cabot, an Italian in the service of Henry VII of England, Newfoundland and reached Nova Scotia. Canada was claimed for France by Jacques Cartier in 1534. The actual settlement of what was then New France began in 1604 in Port Royal in what is now Nova Scotia. Québec was founded in 1608. France’s colonization efforts were not very successful, but French explorers made their way across the Great Lakes to the western prairies and south along the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico in the late 17th century. In the meantime (1670) the English Hudson’s Bay Company was founded. Due to the profitable fishing and fur trade, a conflict developed between the French and England in 1713. France lost Newfoundland, Hudson Bay and Nova Scotia (Acadia) to England. During the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), England expanded its conquests and the British General James Wolfe won a decisive victory over General Louis Montcalm at Quebec on September 13, 1759. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris gave England control of Canada.

At the time, the population of Canada was almost entirely French, but over the next few decades thousands of British colonists immigrated to Canada from the British Isles and American colonies. In 1849, the right to Canadian self-determination was recognized. With the British North America Act from 1867, the Dominion of Canada was created by the Confederation of Upper and Lower Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. In 1869, Canada bought Rupert’s Land from the Hudson’s Bay Company, which formed the provinces of Manitoba (1870), Alberta (1905), and Saskatchewan (1905). British Columbia joined in 1871 and Prince Edward Island followed in 1873. The country was joined coast to coast by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885.

In the founding years between 1866 and 1896 (with the exception of 1873-1878), the Conservative Party ruled the country under the leadership of Sir John A. Macdonald. In 1896 the Liberal Party took power and ruled under Sir Wilfrid Laurier, an eminent French-Canadian until 1911. Through the Statute of Westminster In 1931 the British Dominions, including Canada, were officially declared partner nations of Great Britain “equal in status, in no way subordinate to one another”, linked only by belonging to the common crown of Britain.

Newfoundland became Canada’s tenth province on March 31, 1949 after a referendum. Canada also includes the three territories of the Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories, and the newest area, Nunavut. This new area covers parts of the Arctic north of the mainland. Norway recognized Canadian sovereignty over the Sverdrup Islands in the Arctic in 1931.

The Liberal Party, led by William Lyon Mackenzie King, dominated Canadian politics from 1921 to 1957 until the progressive conservatives succeeded in replacing the Liberals. However, the Liberals came back to power in 1963 under the leadership of Lester B. Pearson. Pearson remained Prime Minister until he retired in 1968 and was replaced by a former law professor,Pierre Elliott Trudeau was replaced. Trudeau maintained Canada’s defensive alliance with the United States, but also began to embark on his own course in world politics.

Faced with an increasingly violent separatist movement in the predominantly French province of Quebec, Trudeau introduced the Official Language Act, which encouraged bilingualism in the federal government and made the French-speaking Jean Chrétien Minister of Economics. Both measures increased the importance of French-speaking politicians in the federal government.

In 1976 the Parti Québécois (PQ) won the elections in the province of Quebec and René Lévesque became premier. The Quebec government passed Bill 101 in 1977, which contained numerous provisions to promote French culture. For example, signs in public schools should only be written in French. Many of the provisions in Bill 101 have since been changed. Today it is more of a compromise, for example signs can now also be written in French and English, provided that the French lettering is twice as large as the English one. A referendum was held in Quebec in May 1980 to vote on independence from Canada, with 60% of voters rejecting it.

On April 17, 1982, a protracted dispute between Trudeau and Queen Elizabeth II.attached. The Queen signed the Constitution (also known as the Canada Act) in Ottawa. This severed the last legal ties between Canada and Great Britain. The constitution recognizes Queen Elizabeth as Queen of Canada, Canada remains a member of the Commonwealth. This constitution was recognized by all provinces except the province of Quebec.

In the national elections of September 4, 1984, the Progressive Conservative Party won an overwhelming victory, which fundamentally changed the political landscape of Canada. The Conservatives, led by Brian Mulroney, won the largest political majority in Canadian history. The dominant question of foreign policy was the free trade area with the US, which was rejected by the Liberals and the Democrats. The conflict led to an election in November 1988 that confirmed Mulroney in office.

The problem of separatism in French-speaking Quebec flared up again in 1990 when the Meech Lake Accord failed. The agreement was intended to incorporate Quebec into the constitution and at the same time relieve Quebecers of the fear of losing their identity within the English-speaking majority by giving them the status of “separate society”.

The economy was still in a long recession, many blamed the free trade agreement with the United States. Brian Mulroney’s popularity fell sharply, prompting him to step down before the next election. In June 1993, the ruling Progressive Conservative Party voted for Secretary of Defense Kim Campbellas leader and made her the first female prime minister in Canadian history. The national elections in October 1993 were won by the Liberal Party and Jean Chrétien became the new Prime Minister.

The Quebec referendum on secession in October 1995 resulted in a narrow rejection of the proposal. Since then, the Quebec Liberal Party ousted the Bloc Québecois as the ruling party.

On April 1, 1999, the Northwest Territories were officially divided to create a new eastern area ruled by the Canadian Inuits, who make up 85% of the local population.

In July 2000, Stockwell Day was elected leader of the opposition in Canada by the new right-wing Canadian Alliance. In November 2000, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien of the Liberal Party won a landslide victory and took up a third term of five years.

Canada has had liberal social policies in recent years. Marijuana for the chronically and terminally ill was legalized in 2001, and Canada began selling prescription-only marijuana in July 2003. In 2003, Ontario and British Columbia legalized same-sex marriage, more provinces and territories followed in 2004. In July 2005, Canada legalized homosexual marriage across the country, making it one of only four countries in the world to recognize same-sex marriage (alongside Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain).

Canada sent 2,000 soldiers in support of the US-led war in Afghanistan, but relations with the US tightened when Canada refused to support Washington in the Iraq war.

In December 2003, Chrétien abdicated and handed over the presidency to the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, former Treasury Secretary Paul Martin. Chrétien announced in 2002 that he would not run for a fourth term – the conflict between Chrétien and Martin divided and weakened the Liberal Party in recent years. In June 2004, Martin was re-elected as prime minister, but the Liberal Party lost its majority in parliament, which it dominated for 11 years. In 2005 a scandal about the embezzlement of funds by the Liberal Party government threatened the stability of the Martin government. Martin himself was not involved in the scandal, but his predecessors came into focus. In the January 2006 general election, the Conservatives won 36% of the vote, ending twelve years of liberal governments. Conservative leader Stephen Harper, became Prime Minister in February. In June 2006, Toronto police arrested 17 suspected Islamist terrorists. It is believed that by doing so they foiled a major terrorist attack on the country. In November 2006, Prime Minister Harper recognized Québec as a “nation within a united Canada”.

In February 2007, according to a2zdirectory, Canada’s Supreme Court suspended a law that would have allowed foreign terrorist suspects to be held indefinitely without charge before being deported. “The overriding principle of justice that is in place here is that before the state can detain people for any length of time it must give them a fair trial,” said Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

Prime Minister Harper was re-elected in October 2008, a year ahead of schedule. His Conservative Party defeated the Liberal Party with 37.6% to 26.2%. However, the Conservatives failed to win a majority in the House of Commons and formed a minority government, the third in four years.

In December 2008, Prime Minister Harper dissolved parliament to prevent a vote of confidence. The possible vote would probably have resulted in a coalition of two opposition parties that would have elected the leader of the Liberal Party, Stéphane Dion, as prime minister.

After Prime Minister Harper dissolved Parliament, he sparked further discussion when he won 18 Conservatives for the unelected Senate that same month and thereby broke his promise not to appoint additional members of parliament until the Senate becomes an elected body. Parliament will resume its work on January 26, 2009.

Canada Brief History