Canadian federalism is concerned with the nature and historical development of the federal systems within Canada. Canada is a federation with two distinct jurisdictions of political authority: the country-wide federal government and the ten regionally-based provincial governments. It also has three territorial governments in the far north, though the territories exercise delegated powers under the authority of the Parliament of Canada. All three jurisdictions are linked together by the Canadian Crown, from which all derive their sovereignty and authority; each government includes the Queen-in-Parliament, the Queen-in-Council, and the Queen-on-the-Bench. The federal parliament and the legislative assemblies of the provinces are independent of one another in their respective areas of legislative authority; although a few sectors are shared, such as agriculture and immigration, but most are either entirely within federal jurisdiction, such as foreign affairs and telecommunications, or entirely within provincial jurisdiction, such as education and healthcare. The federal nature of Canadian constitution was in response to the colonial diversities in the Maritimes and the Province of Canada, in particular the strong distinction between the French-speaking inhabitants of Lower Canada (Quebec) and the English-speaking inhabitants in Upper Canada (Ontario) and the Maritimes. Federalism was considered essential to the co-existence of the French and English communities. John A. Macdonald, who became the first Prime Minister of Canada, had at firs
opposed a federalist system of government, favouring a unitary system. However, he later supported the federalist system after seeing the carnage of the American Civil War; he sought to avoid the same violent conflicts by maintaining a fusion of powers rather than a separation of powers. The division of powers between the federal and provincial governments was initially outlined in the British North America Act, 1867 (now the Constitution Act, 1867), a key document within the Constitution of Canada. Federalism is one of the three pillars of the constitutional order, along with responsible government and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Government of Canada (French: Gouvernement du Canada), formally Her Majesty's Government (French: Gouvernement de Sa Majeste), is the administration of Canada by a common authority; in Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council. In both senses, the construct was established at Confederation, through the Constitution Act, 1867, as a federal constitutional monarchy, wherein the Canadian Crown acts as the core, or "the most basic building block," of its Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. The Crown is thus the foundation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Canadian government. Further elements of governance are outlined in the rest of the Canadian constitution, which includes written statutes, court rulings, and unwritten conventions developed over centuries.