U.S. Department of State

Background Notes: Canada, October 1998

Released by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs

Official Name: Canada



Area: 9.9 million sq. km. (3.8 million sq. mi.); second-largest country 
in the world.
Cities: Capital--Ottawa (pop. 
1 million). Other cities--Toronto 
(4.2 million), Montreal (3.3 million), Vancouver (1.8 million).
Terrain: Mostly plains with mountains in the west and lowlands in the 
Climate: Temperate to arctic.


Nationality: Noun and adjective -- Canadian(s).
Population: 30.2 million.
Annual growth rate: 1.5%.
Ethnic groups: British 28%, French 23%, other European 15%, 
Asian/Arab/African 6%, indigenous Indian and Eskimo 2%, mixed 
background 26%.
Religions: Roman Catholic 42%, Protestant 40%.
Languages: English, French.
Education: Literacy--99% of population aged 15 and over have at least a 
ninth-grade education.
Health: Infant mortality rate--
7/1,000. Life expectancy--75 years male, 82 years female.
Work force: 15 million. Trade--17%; manufacturing--15%; transportation 
and communications--8%; finance--6%; public administration--6%; 
construction--5%; agriculture--4%; forestry and mining--2%; other 


Type: Confederation with parliamentary democracy.
Independence: July 1, 1867.
Constitution: The amended British North America Act of 1867 patriated 
to Canada on April 17, 1982, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and 
unwritten custom.
Branches: Executive--Queen Elizabeth II (head of state, represented by 
a governor general), prime minister (head of government), cabinet. 
Legislative--bicameral parliament (301-member House of Commons, 
104-member Senate). Judicial--Supreme Court.
Political parties: Liberal Party, Reform Party, Bloc Quebecois, New 
Democratic Party, Progressive Conservative Party.
Subdivisions: 10 provinces, 2 territories.


GDP (1996): $585.1 billion.
Annual growth rate: 1.5%.
Per capita GDP: $19,621.
Natural resources: Petroleum and natural gas, hydroelectric power, 
metals and minerals, fish, forests, wildlife.
Agriculture: Products--wheat, livestock and meat, feed grains, oil 
seeds, dairy products, tobacco, fruits, vegetables. 
Industry: Types--motor vehicles and parts, machinery and equipment, 
aircraft and components, other diversified manufacturing, fish and 
forest products, processed and unprocessed minerals. 
Trade: Merchandise exports--
$196.2 billion: motor vehicles and spare parts, lumber, wood pulp and 
newsprint, crude and fabricated metals, natural gas, crude petroleum, 
wheat. Partners--U.S. 81.1%, EU 5.8%, Japan 3.9%. Merchandise imports--
$170.9 billion: motor vehicles and parts, industrial machinery, crude 
petroleum, chemicals, agricultural machinery. Partners--U.S. 75.7%, EU 
8.7%, Japan 3.1%.

U.S.-Canada Relations

The bilateral relationship between the United States and Canada is 
perhaps the closest and most extensive in the world. It is reflected in 
the staggering volume of trade--over 
US$1 billion a day--and people -- nearly 100 million a year -- crossing 
the U.S.-Canadian border. In fields ranging from environmental 
cooperation to free trade, the two countries have set the standard by 
which many other countries measure their own progress.
	In addition to their close bilateral ties, Canada and the U.S. 
also work closely through multilateral fora. Canada--a charter 
signatory to the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty 
Organization (NATO)--has continued to take an active role in the United 
Nations, including peacekeeping operations. 
It is also an active participant in discussions stemming from the 
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Canada 
joined the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1990 and has been 
an active member. It seeks to expand its economic ties across the 
Pacific through membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 
forum (APEC)--of which the U.S. is also a member--and which it hosted 
in 1997.
	Although Canada views its relationship with the U.S. as crucial 
to a wide range of interests, it also occasionally pursues policies at 
odds with the United States. This is particularly true of Cuba, with 
regard to which the U.S. and Canada have pursued divergent policies for 
nearly 40 years, even while sharing the common goal of a peaceful 
democratic transition.
	U.S. defense arrangements with Canada are more extensive than 
with any other country. The Permanent Joint Board on Defense, 
established in 1940, provides policy-level consultation on bilateral 
defense matters. The United States and Canada share NATO mutual 
security commitments. In addition, U.S. and Canadian military forces 
have cooperated since 1958 on continental air defense within the 
framework of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
	The two countries also work closely to resolve transboundary 
environmental issues, an area of increasing importance in the bilateral 
relationship. A principal instrument of this cooperation is the 
International Joint Commission (IJC), established as part of the 
Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to resolve differences and promote 
international cooperation on boundary waters. The Great Lakes Water 
Quality Agreement of 1972 is another historic example of joint 
cooperation in controlling transboundary water pollution. The two 
governments also consult semiannually on trans-boundary air pollution. 
Under the Air Quality Agreement of 1991, both countries have made 
substantial progress in coordinating and implementing their acid rain 
control programs.
Trade and Investment 

Canada and the U.S. serve as the largest market for each other's goods. 
Bilateral trade increased by about 50% between 1989, when the U.S.-
Canada Free Trade Agreement (FTA) went into effect, and 1994, when the 
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) superseded it. Trade has 
since increased by 40%. NAFTA continues the FTA's moves toward reducing 
trade barriers and establishing agreed upon trade rules. It also 
resolves some long-standing bilateral irritants and liberalizes rules 
in several areas, including agriculture, services, energy, financial 
services, investment, and government procurement. NAFTA forms the 
largest trading area in the world, embracing the 380 million people of 
the three North American countries.
	Almost one-third of U.S.-Canadian trade is in the automotive 
sector. Under the 1965 U.S.-Canada Automotive Agreement (Auto Pact), 
which provided for free trade in cars, trucks, and auto parts, two-way 
trade in automotive products rose from $715 million in 1964 to $104.6 
billion in 1996. Auto Pact benefits are incorporated into NAFTA.
	The U.S. is Canada's leading agricultural market, taking nearly 
one-third of all food exports. Conversely, Canada is the second-largest 
U.S. agricultural market (after Japan), primarily importing fresh 
fruits and vegetables and livestock products. Nearly two-thirds of 
Canada's forest products, including pulp and paper, are exported to the 
United States; almost 75% of Canada's total newsprint production is 
also exported to the U.S.
	The United States imports more than 2 trillion cubic feet, or 12% 
its natural gas requirements, from Canada. Canada is the largest energy 
supplier to the U.S.
	While 95% of U.S.-Canada trade flows smoothly, there are 
occasionally bilateral trade disputes over the remaining 5%, 
particularly in the agricultural and cultural fields. Usually, however, 
these issues are resolved through bilateral consultative forums or 
referral to WTO or NAFTA dispute resolution.
	The United States and Canada also have resolved several major 
issues involving fisheries. By common agreement, the two countries 
submitted a Gulf of Maine boundary dispute to the International Court 
of Justice in 1981; both accepted the Court's October 12, 1984 ruling 
which demarcated the territorial sea boundary. In 1990, the United 
States and Canada signed a bilateral Fisheries Enforcement Agreement, 
which has served to deter illegal fishing activity and reduce the risk 
of injury during fisheries enforcement incidents. Their success in 
achieving a Pacific Salmon Treaty in 1985 has been tempered by 
difficulties in negotiating multi-year extensions of its constituent 
fisheries regimes.
	Canada and the United States signed an aviation agreement during 
President Clinton's visit to Canada in February 1995, and air traffic 
between the two countries has increased dramatically as a result. The 
two countries also share in operation of the St. Lawrence Seaway, 
connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.
	The U.S. is Canada's largest foreign investor; at the end of 
1996, the stock of U.S. direct investment was estimated at $87.6 
billion, or about 71% of total foreign direct investment in Canada. 
U.S. investment is primarily in Canada's mining and smelting 
industries, petroleum, chemicals, the manufacture of machinery and 
transportation equipment, and finance.
	Canada's investment in the United States is substantial. At the 
end of 1996, the stock of Canadian direct investment in the United 
States was estimated at $60 billion. Canadian investment in the United 
States, which includes investment from Canadian holding companies in 
the Netherlands, is concentrated in manufacturing; wholesale trade; 
real estate; and petroleum, finance, and insurance and other services.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

Ambassador--Gordon D. Giffin
Deputy Chief of Mission--Mary Ann Peters 
Minister--Counselor for Political 
	Affairs--Christine Shelly 
Minister-Counselor for Economic
	Affairs--Robert Smolik
Minister-Counselor for Public
	Affairs--Sheila Austrian 
Minister-Counselor for Commercial
	Affairs--Dale Slaght

The U.S. embassy in Canada is located at 100 Wellington Street, Ottawa 
(tel. 613-238-5335), directly across from Parliament Hill.


Canada is a constitutional monarchy with a federal system, a 
parliamentary government, and strong democratic traditions. Many of the 
country's legal practices are based on unwritten custom, but the 
federal structure resembles the U.S. system. The 1982 Charter of Rights 
guarantees basic rights in many areas.
	Queen Elizabeth II, as Queen of Canada, serves as a symbol of the 
nation's unity. She appoints a governor general on the advice of the 
prime minister of Canada, usually for a five-year term. The prime 
minister is the leader of the political party in power and is the head 
of the cabinet. The cabinet remains in office as long as it retains 
majority support in the House of Commons on major issues.
	Canada's parliament consists of an elected House of Commons and 
an appointed Senate. Legislative power rests with the 301-member 
Commons, which is elected for a period not to exceed five years. The 
prime minister may ask the governor general to dissolve parliament and 
call new elections at any time during that period. Federal elections 
were last held in June 1997. Vacancies in the 104-member Senate, whose 
members serve until the age of 75, are filled by the governor general 
on the advice of the prime minister. Recent constitutional initiatives 
have sought unsuccessfully to strengthen the Senate by making it 
elective and assigning it a greater regional representational role.
	Criminal law, based largely on British law, is uniform throughout 
the nation and is under federal jurisdiction. Civil law is also based 
on the common law of England, except in Quebec, which has retained its 
own civil code patterned after that of France. Justice is administered 
by federal, provincial, and municipal courts.
	Each province is governed by a premier and a single, elected 
legislative chamber. A lieutenant-governor appointed by the governor 
general represents the Crown in each province.

Principal Government Officials

Head of State--Queen Elizabeth II 
Governor General--Romeo LeBlanc 
Prime Minister--Jean Chretien 
Minister of Foreign Affairs--Lloyd Axworthy 
Ambassador to the United States--Raymond Chretien 
Ambassador to the United Nations--Robert Fowler

Canada maintains an embassy in the United States at 501 Pennsylvania 
Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001 (tel. 202-682-1740).


Prime Minister Jean Chretien's liberal government was elected to a 
second term on June 2, 1997, winning 155 of parliament's 301 seats. 
These results reflected slippage from the Liberals' 1993 total, when 
the party took 178 of 295 seats. In the 1997 vote, the sovereigntist 
Bloc Quebecois (with 44 seats), which constituted Canada's official 
opposition from 1993-97, was displaced by the western-based Reform 
Party, which won 60 seats. Canada's two historic opposition parties--
the Progressive Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party--
regained official party status in the 1997 election with 20 and 21 
seats respectively, after their near total eclipse in the 1993 poll.
	Federal-provincial interplay is a central feature of Canadian 
politics: Quebec wishes to preserve and strengthen its distinctive 
nature; western provinces desire more control over their abundant 
natural resources, especially energy reserves; industrialized central 
Canada is concerned with economic development; and the Atlantic 
provinces have resisted federal claims to fishing and mineral rights 
off their shores.
	The Chretien government has responded to these different regional 
needs by seeking to rebalance the Canadian confederation, giving up its 
spending power in areas of provincial jurisdiction, while attempting to 
strengthen the federal role in other areas. The Federal government has 
reached agreement with a number of provinces returning to them 
authority over job training programs and is embarked on similar 
initiatives in other fields. Meanwhile, it has attempted to strengthen 
the national role on interprovincial trade, while also seeking national 
regulation of securities.
National Unity 

Key to the national unity debate is the ongoing issue of Quebec 
separatism. Following the failure of two constitutional initiatives in 
the last decade, Canada is still seeking a constitutional settlement 
that will satisfy the aspirations of the French-speaking province of 
	The issue has been a fixture in Canadian history, dating back to 
the 18th-century rivalry between France and Britain. For more than a 
century, Canada was a French colony. Although New France came under 
British control in 1759, it was permitted to retain its religious and 
civil code.
	The early 1960s brought a Quiet Revolution to Quebec, leading to 
a new assertiveness and heightened sense of identity among the French-
speaking Quebecois, who make up about one-quarter of Canada's 
population. In 1976, the separatist Parti Quebecois won the provincial 
election and began to explore a course for Quebec of greater 
independence from the rest of Canada.
	In a 1980 referendum, the Parti Quebecois sought a mandate from 
the people of Quebec to negotiate a new status of sovereignty-
association, combining political independence with a continued economic 
association with the rest of Canada. Sixty percent of Quebec voters 
rejected the proposal.
	Subsequently, an agreement between the federal government and all 
provincial governments except Quebec, led to Canada in 1982 assuming 
from the United Kingdom full responsibility for its own constitution. 
Quebec objected to certain aspects of the new arrangement, including a 
constitutional amending formula that did not require consensus among 
all provinces. The 1987 Meech Lake Accord sought to address Quebec's 
concerns and bring it back into Canada's constitutional fold. Quebec's 
provincial government, then controlled by federalists, strongly 
endorsed the accord, but lack of support in Newfoundland and Manitoba 
prevented it from taking effect. Rejected in its bid for special 
constitutional recognition, Quebec's provincial government authorized a 
second sovereignty referendum.
	Intense negotiations among Quebec, the federal government, and 
other provinces led to a second proposed constitutional accord in 1992-
-the Charlottetown Accord. Despite near-unanimous support from the 
country's political leaders, this second effort at constitutional 
reform was defeated in Quebec and the rest of Canada in an October 1992 
nationwide referendum.
	Tired of the country's constitutional deadlock, many Canadians 
prefer to focus on economic issues. Nonetheless, the election of the 
sovereigntist Bloc Quebecois as Canada's official opposition in 1993 
and the subsequent election of the separatist Parti Quebecois as 
Quebec's provincial government in September 1994 kept national unity in 
the forefront of political debate and resulted in a second referendum 
on the issue.
	This referendum, held in Quebec on October 30, 1995, resulted in 
a narrow 50.56% to 49.44% victory for federalists over sovereigntists. 
Quebec's status thus remains a serious political issue in Canada, and 
the province's Parti Quebecois government is likely to call a third 
referendum if it wins a second term in provincial elections that must 
be held before the end of 1999.

Information Program provides Travel Warnings and Consular Information
Sheets. Travel Warnings are issued when the State Department recommends
that Americans avoid travel to a certain country. Consular Information
Sheets exist for all countries and include information on immigration
practices, currency regulations, health conditions, areas of 
crime and security, political disturbances, and the addresses
of the U.S. posts in the country. Public Announcements are issued
as a means to disseminate information quickly about terrorist
threats and other relatively short-term conditions overseas which
pose significant risks to the security of American travelers.
Free copies of this information are available by calling the Bureau
of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-on-demand system:
202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets
also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:
and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB). To access CABB,
dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will accommodate up to
33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-8-1 (no
parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100.
The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case
is required). The CABB also carries international security information
from the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau
of Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers 
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning
a safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of
Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, 
PA 15250-7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250. 

Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may
be obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202)
647-5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call

Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour,
7-day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number
is 1-900-225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users
(for a flat rate of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-

Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
A hotline at (404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories,
immunization recommendations or requirements, and advice on food
and drinking water safety for regions and countries. A booklet
entitled Health Information for International Travel (HHS
publication number CDC-95-8280) is available from the U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.

Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency
and customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest
to travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a
country's embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country,
see "Principal Government Officials" listing in this

U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous
areas are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival
in a country (see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials"
listing in this publication). This may help family members contact
you in case of an emergency. 

Further Electronic Information: 

Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the
Internet, DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S.
foreign policy information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background
Notes; Dispatch, the official magazine of U.S. foreign
policy; daily press briefings; Country Commercial Guides;
directories of key officers of foreign service posts; etc. DOSFAN's
World Wide Web site is at http://www.state.gov.

U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published on an annual
basis by the U.S. Department of State, USFAC archives information
on the Department of State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes
an array of official foreign policy information from 1990 to the
present. Contact the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To
order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202) 512-2250.

National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department
of Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information.
It is available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov)
and on CD-ROM. Call the NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more

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