Canada is a constitutional monarchy, which accepts an elected or hereditary monarch as head of state, rather than as an absolute power. Canada’s head of state is England’s Queen Elizabeth II. It is a parliamentary democracy with a constitution consisting of written documents as well as unwritten traditions and institutions. Although power is divided between the federal and provincial governments, the constitution contains the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, individual rights that cannot be overridden.
The executive makeup of Canadian government consists of the Prime Minister and a Cabinet, as well as the Governor General, who is the monarch’s representative in Canada. Currently, Stephen Harper is Prime Minister of Canada, and Michaelle Jean serves as Governor General.
Canada has four main political parties: New Democratic Party, Liberal Party of Canada, Conservative Party of Canada, and Bloc Quebecois. There is also a substantial list of smaller parties with elected representation.
Canada has been a consistent advocate for multi-lateralism over the last 60 years; its forces served in every U.N. peacekeeping mission up to 1989.