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Canada is a country occupying most of northern North America, extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west and northward into the Arctic Ocean. It is the world's second largest country by total area. Canada's common border with the United States to the south and northwest is the longest in the world.
The land occupied by Canada was inhabited for millennia by various groups of Aboriginal peoples. Beginning in the late 15th century, British and French expeditions explored, and later settled, along the Atlantic coast. France ceded nearly all of its colonies in North America in 1763 after the Seven Years' War. In 1867, with the union of three British North American colonies through Confederation, Canada was formed as a federal dominion of four provinces. This began an accretion of provinces and territories and a process of increasing autonomy from the United Kingdom. This widening autonomy was highlighted by the Statute of Westminster of 1931 and culminated in the Canada Act of 1982, which severed the vestiges of legal dependence on the British parliament and transformed Canada into a Republic like their neighbors to the south in America.
Pre-World War 2
Post-World War 2
When the Second World War came to a close with a victory for Canada and her allies many immigrants from war torn Europe fled to Canada and the United States. Canada, like the United States was one of the few nations involved in the conflict that avoided experiencing the horrors of battle in their homeland and with plenty of land for people to settle in people from around the world left what was left of their motherlands and moved to North America. Once they were settled in their new country they began to have children at an unforeseen rate. That, combined with the soldiers returning home from the war to father children, caused a great explosion in Canada's population and by 1960 half of Canada's population was under the age of 20.
A guest worker program was set up through which prisoners of war held in Canada at the time (from Axis nations such as Germany, Japan and Italy) could move their surviving families from war-torn Europe to Canada. Many became farmers in the Prairie provinces, while others settled down in one of the big cites.
With the population expanding, the economy followed suit and soon Canada had one of the strongest economies in the world. Toronto, Canada's largest city soon became a mecca for international finance, commerce, entertainment (giving it the nickname "Hollywood North") and entrepreneurship.
On the other side of the country the city of Vancouver became the gateway to the Far East for trade with China, Australia, New Zealand and the American possessions in the Pacific. Canada also became more closely aligned with America - not just economically but politically and militarily as well - while at the same time drifting away from Britain to which they still had many ties. Britain however was too weak to complain or do anything to rectify the situation.
Change of Government
The general feeling in Canada was the relations with a now greatly weakened Britain through the Commonwealth were more a burden then a benefit. Eventually this sediment translated to the Federal government.
In 1981 a bill was passed by the Canadian Parliament called the Canada Act that effectively leaving the Commonwealth. However the bill to reiterates that Canada respects Britain and continued the various trade deals that were already in place. The bill also respected the role of the Queen as Head of State but did away with the largely ceremonial task of adding her royal assent to bills past by the Legislative branch.
A separate bill called the "Canadian Constitution Act" established the new "Republic of Canada" along with establishing all the rights and freedoms of a democracy.
The way in which the legislative branch of government was run changed to a more American style of Governance. The House of Commons retained its name but was run almost exactly like the United States House of Representatives. The Senate, would now be elected directly by the people instead of being appointed by the Prime Minister. The role of the Prime Mister was to be replaced by a President elected by the popular vote on a separate ticket from the local representative.
The bill after being passed by parliament then had to be ratified by all the provinces. All provinces voted in referenda to support of the bill by fairly large margins. With the exception of Quebec which was seeking to show its independence from the rest of Canada in new and even bolder ways.
New elections were held in 1985 which saw the election of Conservative Brian Mulroney as Canada's first President.
French-Canadian relations had always been tense but came to an head with the passage of the Canada Act. The French speaking peoples of Quebec felt that their voice had been further marginalized by the influx of immigrants from Europe. Canada's strong relations with United States left many Quebecois feeling abandoned and neglected by the Canadian government. In 1983, after most English speaking Quebecois had left for other provinces as French nationalists came to power, the province voted to secede from Canada. The transition was for the most part peaceful with just a few small, isolated skirmishes between Canadian soldiers and the FLQ militias and the newly formed "Provisional Army of Quebec".
More to come...