Legal Rights and the Constitution in Canada Vs USA


LegalRights and the Constitution in Canada Vs USA

TheUnited States and Canada have something in common since both of themare democracies and are federal states. However, the two have severaldifferences in terms of legal rights entitled to the citizens andconstitution provisions. The manner in which citizens governthemselves in the United States and Canada is different. This reportwill discuss the legal rights and constitution issues in both Canadaand the United States, and the report will indicate that Canada hasbetter legal rights and constitution compared to the legal rights andconstitution of the United States.

TheConstitution and legal Rights in Canada

Inthe Canadian constitution, two basic languages are recognized thatis, the use of French and English languages (Stanbridge, 2015). Theofficial recognition of bilingualism in Canada can be viewed aslimited, but it is more expanding. For instance, the request of theBrunswick government to adopt French as well as English to be theofficial languages in the province became enshrined in theconstitution. This has enabled French-speaking individuals in Canadato seek and access services through using the French language. Also,under the Canadian constitution, each province with an exception toNew Brunswick, Quebec and Manitoba has the freedom of having as manyofficial languages that it desires and it is not a requirement forthe provinces to include French or English as their officiallanguages. However, when it comes to New Brunswick, Manitoba andQuebec provinces, it is a must for them to include French and Englishas part of their official languages in addition to the otherlanguages that they may desire to make their official languages(Stanbridge, 2015).

Theconstitution of Canada recognizes Canada to have a constitutionalmonarchy, where it has a parliamentary-cabinet government. In Canada,the queen, usually represented by the Governor General, becomes thehead of state according to the constitution while the prime ministeremerges as the head of the government. Thus, the Canadianconstitution offers a difference amid the position of the head ofstate and the head of the government. According to the Canadianconstitution, this is a very noble aspect because, in exceptionalcases, the head of the state can protect the parliament and thepeople against ministers who tend to forget that being a ministermeans to be a servant (Wells, 2013). For instance, it is verypossible for the head of state to deny a cabinet minister frombashing the people into submission through a series of generalelections.

Also,according to the Canadian constitution, Canada has the form ofgovernment that is parliamentary-cabinet government. This form ofgovernment is usually based on the power concentration. This impliesthat the prime minister as well as other ministers should by custombecome a member of one house, or obtain a seat in one house within ashort duration of appointment (Dodek, 2013). Furthermore, within thisform of government enshrined within the Canadian constitution, allthe government bills have to be introduced by a minister or anindividual that speaks on his/her behalf, and the ministers need toappear in parliament so as to defend the government bills and answerdaily queries regarding the policies presented.

TheCanadian constitution also provides that the terms of office are notfixed rigidly, all crucial legislations are introduced by thegovernment, and bills for government spending should be introduced bythe government and no house has the mandate of raising the amount ofresources involved (Dodek, 2013). Provided the government is capableof maintaining a majority in the House of Commons, it becomesexceedingly easy to pass any legislation, which it desires unless amajority in the senate refuses.

Atthe end of the Canadian constitution, Charter of Rights and Freedomsis appended. This Canadian charter is critical to the Canadians sinceit guarantees almost the same individual rights provided by the USBill of Rights. However, in the Charter, the Canadians are given theright to bear arms. Also, of importance in the Charter is theprovision of group rights. Such group rights include cultural andlinguistic rights (Forsey &amp Canada, 2012). The Canadian Charteris also in a position to protect individual rights such as the rightto be protected from discrimination on the ground of sex or race. TheCharter of Rights and Freedoms balances the rights of legislaturesand the courts through the clause of “notwithstanding” thatprovides the provincial and federal parliaments with limited powersof overriding court decisions (Dodek, 2013).

TheConstitution and legal Rights in the United States

Accordingto the United States constitution, only one basic official languagecan be used. The only basic language that is used as per theconstitution is the English language. Despite there being otherlanguages in the United States, states are not given the right ofchoosing the basic official language that they desire. For instance,Louisiana, in the United States has French as well as Spanish legalheritage, but due to the constitutional limitation provided by the USconstitution of having one basic official language, it is notfeasible for Louisiana to choose to have either French or Spanish asits basic official language.

TheAmerican constitution provides that America is a republic and thetype of government for the Americans is presidential-congressional.This implies that the constitution of the United States is not in aposition to distinguish amid the head of the government and the headof state. According to the American constitution, the head of thegovernment and the head of state means the same. The Americanconstitution supports presidential-congressional government that isgrounded on the separation of powers. With this form of government,the president cannot become a member of both house of Congress.Besides, neither can any member of the cabinet nor the presidentappear in Congress in introducing a bill, answering questions, ordefending a bill.

Besides,according to the American constitution, members of either houses aswell as the president must be elected for a fixed term members ofHouse of Representatives have a fixed term of two years, senators forsix years, and the president for four years. Since the senators,representatives and the president have varying fixed terms, it canhappen that the president belongs to one party and the opposing partycomprises the majority in either the House of Representatives orsenate or both. Thus, for years up to the end of the term, it ispossible for the president to find that his/her policies andlegislation become blocked by the adverse majority in either or oneof the houses. It is difficult for the president to appeal to thepeople through dissolving one of the houses or both because theconstitution does not provide him with such powers. Moreover, the twohouses are put in office by the constitution until their fixed termelapses.

Furthermore,based on the form of government supported by the Americanconstitution, the president may have a sound program to presentbefore the Congress, and representatives and senators may introducethe bills the president desires passed. However, each of the housesmay add to each of the bills or take out things from the bills, whichmay make the resultant bills have no resemblance with what thepresident desired initially (Newman, 2004). In case both houses agreeon an issue, the president often vetoes the bill. The veto can onlybecome overridden by a two-thirds majority in the two either houses.Because of the difficulty in getting original bills passed, at theend of the term provided by the American constitution, the senators,representatives and the president cannot be held responsible forsomething done or not done. No matter how the voter can becomedisillusioned and vote the president, representative, or senator out,the situation would still remain the same since the individuals votedin will still experience the similar situation due to the form ofgovernment supported by the American constitution.

Thepresidential-congressional form of government supported by theAmerican constitution can be indicated to be neither responsive norresponsive. It does not matter the number of times and the frequencythat both houses vote against the measures of the president, he willalways stay. For instance, the president can be blocked by one of thehouses, but it is exceedingly difficult to remove the president frompower since his/her term, as determined by the constitution, have toelapse (Newman, 2004). In this case, the president has to stay inpower for four years.

Atthe end of the American Constitution, a Bill of Rights is appended.The Bill of Rights provides different rights and freedoms given toindividuals. In comparison to the Canadian Charter, the Bill ofRights provides almost similar individual rights however, it failsto offer some of the individual freedoms and rights provided for inthe Charter. For instance, the Bill of Rights fails to protectindividuals from discrimination on the ground of sex or race and doesnot give individuals the right to bear arms. Besides, the Bill ofRights does not provide group rights provided for in the CanadianCharter.

Whythe Canadian Legal Rights and Constitution is Better

Comparingthe Canadian and the US legal rights and constitution, the Canadianlegal rights and constitution is better. One of the reasons why theCanadian legal rights and constitution is better compared to the USlegal rights and constitution is because of the constitution allowsbilingualism. According to the Canadian constitution, French andEnglish are the official languages. Each province with an exceptionto New Brunswick, Quebec and Manitoba has the freedom of having asmany official languages that it desires and it is not a requirementfor the provinces to include French or English as their officiallanguages (Dodek, 2013). However, when it comes to New Brunswick,Manitoba and Quebec provinces, it is a must for them to includeFrench and English as part of their official languages. This is anadvantage to the Canadian citizens because they can be in a positionto use either French or English in seeking and accessing services.Also, individuals in different provinces have the capacity to enjoytheir cultural languages since they have an opportunity of makingthem their official languages. This is a different scenario accordingto the American constitution since only English is the officiallanguage.

Anotherreason why the Canadian legal rights and constitution is bettercompared to the American legal rights and constitution is because ofthe protection of individuals from discrimination on the ground ofrace and sex (Stanbridge, 2015). This is a major issue in the modernworld, which enable individuals to live well without discriminatingone another because one to one race or race. This is an indicationthat employment is not based on one’s sex or race, butqualifications. The US bill of rights does not protect individualsfrom such form of discrimination. This makes the Canadianconstitution and legal rights better than those of the United States.

Theprovision of group rights is another issue that makes the Canadianconstitution and legal rights better compared to those of the UnitedStates. The Canadian Charter provides for group rights, wheredifferent groups such as the Aboriginals are provided with theirrights. The group rights emphasize on the different groups to enjoytheir cultures. Although this right is provided for in the CanadianCharter, it is not provided for anywhere in the bill of rights or theAmerican constitution. Thus, on this stand, the Canadian constitutionand legal rights is better.

Furthermore,the Canadian legal rights and constitution is better compared to theAmerican legal rights and constitution because the Canadianconstitution supports a parliamentary-cabinet government whereas theAmerican constitution supports a presidential-congressionalgovernment. The parliamentary-cabinet form of government is bettercompared to the presidential-congressional government because it isresponsible and responsive. According to the form of government inCanada, it is possible to call for an election before the term ofoffice elapses in case there is a vote of no confidence with acertain individual (Dodek, 2013). This makes it possible forindividuals such as ministers to be responsible and responsive to acertain issue of concern. However, when it comes to the USconstitution, it is not possible to remove an individual from officeuntil his/her time, as provided by the constitution, elapses. Thismakes the form of government in the United States not to beresponsible and non-responsive.


Thereare different similarities as well as differences associated with theCanadian and American legal rights and constitution. It is out of thedifferences between the two that it can be argued that the Canadianlegal rights and constitution is better placed compared to theAmerican legal rights and constitution. The provision of group rightsis an issue that makes the Canadian constitution and legal rightsbetter compared to those of the United States. The Canadian Charterprovides for group rights, where different groups such as theAboriginals are provided with their rights. Also, the protection ofindividuals from discrimination on the ground of race and sex isprovided for in the Canadian Charter, which is not the case in theUnited States constitution. Furthermore, the form of governmentsupported by the Canadian constitution is responsible and responsivesince the constitution allows for an election before office termelapses.


Dodek,A. (2013). TheCanadian Constitution.Toronto: Dundurn.

Forsey,E. A., &amp Canada. (2012). HowCanadians govern themselves.Ottawa: Library of Parliament.

Newman,S. L. (2004). Constitutionalpolitics in Canada and the United States.Albany: State University of New York Press.

Stanbridge,J. (2015). Whoruns this country, anyway?: A guide to Canadian government.Buenos Aires: Scholastic Canada Ltd.

Wells,P. (2013). Thelonger I`m Prime Minister: Stephen Harper and Canada, 2006-.Toronto:Random House Canada.