English Listenign Lesson Lab Online
Views #232 | Mid Intermediate 5

Canadian Politics

Steve talks about the government in Canada.
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Todd: OK, now Steve, the Canadian political system and the American political system are quite different. Could you explain to me how the Canadian political system works?

Steve: Sure. Basically in Canada there are 10 provences and three territories. We call the three territories, territories because they have less than 50,000 people living in them. They're really far north, where it is cold and obviously not so comfortable to live.

The other ten provences are British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Foundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Each Provence has their provincial government but as far as federal government the capital is in Ottawa, and there's actually an election coming up, probably sometime this year. Each province is given seats in the federal cabinet and seats are given based on population so Ontario and Quebec which have the largest populations have the most seats in Federal Parliament and so wherever you live you basically vote for the politician who is running in your particular geographical area, and the political party which wins the most seats forms the government that rules the country.

Todd: OK, and the leader of the country comes from that party?

Steve: Yeah, the leader of the country is elected within the party. They elect the leader (OK) So each party, when they want a leader, they have a leadership convention, and they elect a leader to lead that party, but the leader of the party must also run in their own constituency or riding, so if they don't win they can't be the Prime Minister, so, yeah, the main political parties, right now the government is Liberal Government. Other prominent parties are the New Democratic Party, sometimes called the NDP, and the New Conservative Party. Also a powerful party is Bloc Quebecois, which has most of its seats obviously in Quebec, so there are four main political parties.

Learn vocabulary from the lesson!

political system

How does the Canadian political system work?

A 'political system' is the framework for how politics work in a country.  Notice the following:

  1. It is difficult to understand exactly how the political system works here because there is so much corruption.
  2. The last few elections have made a mess of the political system.


In Canada, there are ten provinces and three territories.

In this case a 'territory' is a place that is owned by Canada and part of the Canadian continent, but does not have enough people to be considered a state. Notice the following:

  1. Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.
  2. There are many British territories around the world.

coming up

There's an election coming up sometime this year.

If something is 'coming up' it will happen in the near future. Notice the following:

  1. Your birthday is coming up soon, right?
  2. I have my final exams coming up next week.

win the most seats

The party that wins the most seats becomes the ruling party.

A 'seat' refers to a representative within the Federal Parliament.  So the example is saying that whichever political party has the most representatives in the House of Commons is the ruling party. Notice the following:

  1. It will be a surprise to see who wins the most seats in the next election.
  2. The New Conservative Party won the most seats during the last election.


The leader of the party must also run in their own constituency or riding.

A 'riding' is an geographical location, such as a city, that has representation in the House of Commons in Canada. Notice the following:

  1. Our riding usually votes for the New Democratic Party.
  2. It was a very close election in our riding.

Vocabulary Quiz

system • territory • coming up
most seats • riding
  1. He lost his by a few thousand votes.
  2. Many people are hoping that the Democrats will win the in this election.
  3. Spain got a lot of new because of Hernan Cortez.
  4. He is preparing for a speech he has .
  5. Most citizens are aware of problems in the political .
Answer the following questions about the interview.

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