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The Dominion of Ontario was formed from the remnants of British Canada. It was to function as a buffer state between the French colony in New France and the Empire of Alaska.
Ontario has strong democratic traditions upehld through a parliamentary government within the construct of constitutional monarchy, the monarchy of Ontario being the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches and its authority stemming from the Canadian populace. The sovereign is Queen Elizabeth II who resides predominantly in the Kingdom of Oceania. As such, the Queen's representative, the Governor General of Ontario (presently Stephen Lewis), carries out most of the royal duties in Canada.
The direct participation of the royal and viceroyal figures in any of these areas of governance is limited, though; in practice, their use of the executive powers is directed by the Cabinet, a committee of ministers of the Crown responsible to the elected House of Commons and headed by the Prime Minister of Ontario (presently James Carrey), the head of government. To ensure the stability of government, the governor general will usually appoint as prime minister the person who is the current leader of the political party that can obtain the confidence of a plurality in the House of Commons and the prime minister chooses the Cabinet. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) is thus one of the most powerful institutions in government, initiating most legislation for parliamentary approval and selecting for appointment by the Crown, besides the aforementioned, the governor general, lieutenant governors, senators, federal court judges, and heads of crown corporations and government agencies. The leader of the party with the second-most seats usually becomes the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition (presently Tim Hudak) and is part of an adversarial parliamentary system intended to keep the government in check.
Each Member of Parliament in the House of Commons is elected by simple majority in an electoral district or riding. General elections must be called by the governor general, on the advice of the prime minister, within four years of the previous election, or may be triggered by the government losing a confidence vote in the House. Members of the Senate, whose seats are apportioned on a regional basis, serve until age 75. Four parties had representatives elected to the federal parliament in the 2008 elections: the New Democratic Party (governing party), the Liberal Party of Ontario (the Official Opposition), the Conservative Party of Ontario (CPO). The list of historical parties with elected representation is substantial.
Ontario's federal structure divides government responsibilities between the federal government and the ten provinces. Provincial legislatures are unicameral and operate in parliamentary fashion similar to the House of Commons.
An abundance of natural resources, excellent transportation links to the American heartland and the inland Great Lakes making ocean access possible via container ships, have all contributed to making manufacturing the principal industry, found mainly in the Golden Horseshoe region, which is the largest industrialized area in Canada, the southern end of the region being part of the North American Rust Belt. Important products include motor vehicles, iron, steel, food, electrical appliances, machinery, chemicals, and paper. Ontario surpassed Michigan in car production, assembling 2.696 million vehicles in 2004. In 2005 the Ontarians nationalized the various automobile plants in the nation, and the Ontarian Automobile Company was born.
Banking & Information Technology
Toronto, the capital of Ontario, is the centre of Canada's financial services and banking industry. Neighbouring cities in the Greater Toronto Area like Brampton, Mississauga and Vaughan are large product distribution and IT centres, in addition to having various manufacturing industries. The information technology sector is also important, particularly in the Silicon Valley North section of Ottawa, as well as the province of Waterloo. Government is the single largest employer in the province of York employing hundreds of thousands. Hamilton is the largest steel manufacturing city in Canada, and Sarnia is the centre for petrochemical production. Construction employs at least 7% of the work force, this sector has slowed down somewhat after a ten year plus boom.
Mining & Tourism
Mining and the forest products industry, notably pulp and paper, are vital to the economy of Northern Ontario. More than any other region, tourism contributes heavily to the economy of Central Ontario, peaking during the summer months owing to the abundance of fresh water recreation and wilderness found there in reasonable proximity to the major urban centres. At other times of the year, hunting, skiing and snowmobiling are popular. This region has some of the most vibrant fall colour displays anywhere on the continent, and tours directed at overseas visitors are organized to see them. Tourism also plays a key role in border cities with large casinos, among them Windsor, Cornwall, Sarnia and Niagara Falls, which attract many U.S. visitors. Sudbury has been dubbed "Ontario's Sin City" due to its many casinos.
Once the dominant industry, agriculture occupies a small percentage of the population but still a large part of Southern Ontario's land area. The number of farms has decreased from 68,633 in 1991 to 59,728 in 2001, but farms have increased in average size, and many are becoming more mechanized. Cattle, small grains and dairy were the common types of farms in the 2001 census. The fruit, grape and vegetable growing industry is located primarily on the Niagara Peninsula and along Lake Erie, where tobacco farms are also situated. The Corn Belt covers much of the southwestern area of the province extending as far north as close to Goderich. Apple orchards are a common sight along the southern shore of Georgian Bay near Collingwood and along the northern shore of Lake Ontario near Cobourg. Tobacco production, centred in Norfolk County has decreased leading to an increase in some other new crop alternatives gaining popularity, such as hazelnuts and ginseng. The Ontarian origins of Massey Ferguson, once one of the largest farm implement manufacturers in the world, indicate the importance agriculture once had to the Ontarian economy.