Many people would like to believe that the president is the most powerful person in the world. However, the structure of America has put restraints on the president that a Prime Minister would not have. There are many differences between the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Canada. These differences include regulations, term of office, powers, and cultures. Throughout this paper you will learn that just being the leader of their country is about as similar as these two people get. Here in the United States, we have had many presidents throughout the years.
Starting with George Washington, and finishing up with George Bush. Our president is the chief executive, with the legislative and judicial branches to keep checks and balances in place. Our two counties have some similarities in the qualifications in becoming the leader of the country, but the differences most definitely outweigh these similarities. To become the president of the United States you must have three things: you must be a natural born citizen of the United States, you must have a resident in United States for at least fourteen years, and you must be at least thirty five years old.
Additionally, if you have ever held office and been removed by conviction from an impeachable cause, you may not run for president (http://www. ehow. com). Becoming the prime minister has many different rules for being considered eligible. Unlike waiting until your thirty five to become president, any Canadian citizen of voting age may try to become the prime minister. The voting age in Canada is same as ours, 18, so Canada may sometime end up with a very young prime minister. It is customary for the prime minister to be a sitting member of the House of Commons, but it is not a regulation.
There have been two cases in which this has happened, when Sir John Joseph Caldwell Abbott and Sir Mackenzie Bowell became prime ministers when they did not previously have seats in the House of Commons. Typically the prime minister is also the head of their party (http://encarta. msn. com). Another great difference between our president and the prime minister of Canada is the terms of office. A president has a limit of time in office, and can serve up to two terms, four years at a time. I believe like this is a good and bad thing.
While it gives our president time to make good decisions, and time to actually change things in our country, if the president has bad ratings, there is nothing we can do about it until his term is up. There is only one circumstance when a president can be voted out of office before his term is up, and that is called impeachment. This can happen when the president has committed acts treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, thus giving the power to the house of representatives to impeach him, and the senate the power to remove him for office, given a two-thirds vote to convict.
This rarely happens though, and throughout history only two presidents have ever been impeached; Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998 (http://biden. senate. gov). In Canada, the Prime Minister’s terms of office are determined much differently. The prime minister is appointed by the Governor General on behalf of the queen. The governor general will typically pick the leader of the party that has the most seats in the house to maintain stability in the government. Unlike the president, the prime minister does not have a fixed term of office.
Canada’s constitution, The Constitution of Canada, limits each parliament member to five years, and then a general election for every seat must be called. The prime minister and majority government is typically in power for three to five years before a new general election is called. The minority government can call a general election at any time, and will usually call one when an opportunity arrives and appears that they may be able to win the majority of seats (http://encarta. msn. com). Now many people believe that being the leader of your country means you can do whatever you want.
Fortunately this is not the case when it comes to the president and the prime minister. Each of these men has restrictions on their powers, though these restrictions are very different. The president has many powers such as war time powers and judicial powers. During war time, the president has the power to control all war related industries, can place limits on wages and prices, can decide ration of food, clothing, and manufactured items, and can even suspend come personal freedom, such as curfew.
These suspensions must be restored when the “emergency” has passed. Some of his judicial powers include that he appoints all federal judges and US attorneys, and has the power to pardon. He also is responsible for carrying out court orders and decisions. Though these powers sound like the president can do pretty much anything, he does have restrictions. There are three main limits that the president must follow. These limits are limit of permissibility, limit of available resources, and limits of previous commitments.
Limit of permissibility means that it must be legal and acceptable to the public. Limit of available resources means that he must establish priorities for available money, time, and other important things, and limit of previous commitment means that he can’t ignore what previous presidents have promised (http://www. virtualclassroom. net). I think that it is good that the president has restrictions on his powers because otherwise there would literally be only one man running this country.
The prime minister also has his fair share of powers. Some of his powers include, the power to appoint, reshuffle, or dismiss ministers, create peers, give out honors, appoint chairs of nationalist industries, setting up cabinet meetings and international relations. Again, this sounds like he has many powers to do as he pleases, but the prime minister also has some restrictions. Like the president, the prime minister has three main restrictions. Ministerial appointments need some recognition for political balance.
There are certain pressures to appoint certain people, and all prime ministers will listen to advice from senior colleagues before making an appointment. The prime ministers ability to control the flow of business is also restricted, and most prime ministers do not initiate policy (http://www. revision-notes. co. uk). There is one last major difference between the president and the prime minister. This difference is the way they respond to the public, and the languages that they speak.
Everyone in the United States knows who their president is, but how often do they get to see him in action? The president of the United States only really makes public appearances when he is giving a formal speech of some kind. These speeches are pre-written, and at the end of the speech when questions are allowed to be asked, the president has prepared answers for them. Most of the time, the president does not have to explain himself to the country about the decisions he made, or the reasons why he made them.
Typically, the president usually only will make a speech when there is something new happening that will affect the country, and will usually make many more speeches if there is a time of war. The prime minister on the other hand must deal with the public daily. In Canada, the government has a “question period”. This happens every day, beginning no later the 2:15 Monday through Thursday, and 11:15 on Fridays. These question periods last for about 45 minutes. The prime minister starts by addressing the leader of the opposing party, and asks him to begin the questioning.
After the lead question, there are two follow up questions. After the three questions are asked, other opposing parties are allowed to ask their questions (http://www. parl. gc. ca). There is no way the prime minister can have pre-readied answers for these questions and I believe that this is a very good system, because it gives the public a chance to see why the government is making the decisions that it’s making, and if they are making a bad decision, it gives the opposing parties a chance to embarrass the leaders.
Another very interesting thing about these question periods is that the prime minister does not have to speak English. Usually, if a question is asked in English, it is expected to be answered in English, but if the question is asked in French, then it is expected to be answered in French. Of course this only happens when the prime minister is able to speak French fluently. I believe that adds to the culture that Canada has that the United States does not have, because as we all know, our presidents are only expected to speak on language, and that is English.
So overall, as you can see, there are many differences between the president and prime minister. I have only mentioned a few in this paper, and if you continue to look deeper into the issue you will find how many differences there really are. I have only told you about a few of the obvious ones, but there are many others in culture, history, and even changes in the present. I hope I can continue to learn about these things and hopefully I will be able to share them with you again soon. As I said before, and I’m sure you know now too, being the leader of their country is about as similar as these two men get.