Actually, the head of government is the Queen represented by the Governor General - alot of people make the mistake of thinking our head of govt is the Prime Minister. It is a common test question, lol That said, the Governor General is appointed by the Prime Minister actually - it is a throwback to our parliamentary system which is based on the British Parliamentary system. The GG is ceremonial only and she (we have had she's now for awhile) has no real power. She reads the Speech from the Throne which is actually written by speech writers from the PM's office. (I once worked for a political leader at the prov level and wrote the speech - with some others - what fun, lol).
The GG post is more like the position of President of Ireland execpt the Pres of Ireland (currently Mary MacAleese) is elected.
So technically, the GG rep the Crown heads out govt but the real power is vested in the Prime Minister who unlike your president is not durectly elected. The PM is the Leader of the Party that wins the election. Federally - last time (last yr), it was the Liberal Party. The Party that gets the 2nd most no. of votes is called the Official Oposition and in this case , it is the Conservative Party (a new party recently formed by the combo of the former Progressive Cons and Alliance parties). However, there are also seats held by the Bloc Quebecois (cousins of the Parti Quebecois who are a very strong seperatist party in Quebec) and the NDP. We also have a couple of Independents (unliek you guys who have one -Bernie Sanders from Vt). In our case, only one was elected as an Ind but another Carolyn Parrish was banished from the Liberals for saying nasty things about Americans. (I kid you not!)
The Prime Minister is not directly elected by the people. He becomes Prime Minister by virtue of the fact he is Leader of the Party who won the most seats. He is selected by his party at a leadership convention - not unlike yours tho less scripted unless it is a coronation and there is no competition. Leadership conventions are done differently by various parties and are an entirely different topic!!!
We prob need a system of proportional rep since our current first past the post system works against smaller parties. The vast majority of democracies have prop rep (the most pure one being the Knesset in Israel) but England, Canada and the US still linger with first past the post , meaning that the person who gets the most no of votes wins. In our case, this means that we can have a district represented by somoene eho weon by as few as 33% of the vote (if you have 3-4 parties vying) so they really do not rep the majority. Ireland, for ex, has a very complicated system of people having to choose their choices, i.e 1 for so and so, 2 for candidate 2., asnd so on. The results are tabulated until a majority is calculated. France for its part has people voting on one Sunday and if one candidate does not get 50% of the votes, they have a runoff the next Sunday. (Actually, the Seante race in Louisiana is a bit like this). Anyway...... there is a commission studying all of us. I served on a provincial one - I am VERY interested in the political process.
Call me crazy, lol
I think there are some advantages to your system and also some to ours and of course as a corollory, disadvantages. In the US, the President answers to no one except the voters every 4 yrs and you have fixed election dates. Here, the PM is required to stand up in the House of Commons and answer questions from the other parties - it kind of keeps them honest to a point. Maybe honest is not the best word, haha Britain is the same exxept Tony Blair only has to answer questions on Wed AM, here (Canada), the PM must respond whener he is in the House. George Bush never has to do that - he only responds to questions now and then at his leisure from the media. And often , a spokesperson does that for him.
One thing I do like about the US system is the fic=xed election date. Here, it is at the discretion of the Prime Minister (or unless he has a minority govt and the rest of the oppsoiton votes down a govt motion - usually a financial bill) and the goct is defeated. We are in the precarious situation now and a few months ago, the independent - who just died (I really liked him, he was true to the people he represented) held the entire future of the goct in his hands. In normal circumstances - when we have a majority govt, the PM and his party have up to 5 yrs to call an election but he can call it when it looks best for him, ie when he is ahead in the polls.
Too, while we have a Senate, it really is powerless. My bf's mom receently retired from the Senate so I guess I should be careful ,haha but seriously, while officially it is a chamber of "sober second thought", the party in power appoints its friends to the chamber. They do have committees but as an unelected body have no power. If I ever became PM, I'd abolish the Senate, haha
The House of Commons is where the real power exists. and Members of Parliament - like your congresspeople - are elected by ridings of roughly 40,000-100,000 voters. The PM selects his/her (we have had a her!) cabinet from his/her party and they have to be MP's unlike the US where the Pres appoints who he wants.
There are other diferences but I can't think of all of them now. I gave a lecture once to a Women's group (League of Women Voters I think) in Fla about Cdn politics and they were facinated by the small differences.
Ohhh - that was what realky interested them and may account for such low voter turnout in the US. I went to see how they regiostered voters and that's how I ended up invited to lecture. Here, the govt actually appoints people called enumerators (they are names appted by the party that came 1st and 2nd in each riding - tho it differs in the provinces) who go door to door and develop a Voter's List. So almost everyone gets counted and added whether they want to or not. Unlike Australia tho, it is not required to vote. In Australia, it is illegal NOT to vote and you pay a fine (Maybe someone from Au can help me with this part??). So, in my riding for ex, we had an 87% voter turnout which is quite high. In the US, voter turnout s just the percentage of REGISTERED voters and it is up to ppl themselves to regsiter tho there are some states where you can automatically register at the DMV and of course parties register voters. So, ppl here get registered and are inclined to vote while in the US, sometimes ppl are not even on the list and would never know it. That surprises me for a country that is a huge democracy. I always think if you do not vote, you have no say or no reasob at all to complain. (Unless of course you have a really good reason - say it is against your religion (ie Jehova's Witnesses refuse to vote) or you protest in an extra parliamentary way to get what you want.
Anyway----- that is part of it.
As for our dollar. It depends very much on both our Bank Governors, - we have a Bank of Canada that determines how our money will be set - at one time it was worth more thathe US dollar. Similarly, in the US, what is his name - married to Andrea Mitchell of NBC, Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve Chairman, holds the same post. However, traders in currency have alot to do with this and I hope someone with a background in that field can explain that part - I have to run!!!
Sorry it's long - and there is sooooooooooo much more!!!