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How Canadians Govern Themselves

by Eugene A. Forsey
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How Canadians Govern Themselves
First Edition 1980
© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada

Senator Eugene Forsey wanted us to understand how our government works for one very simple reason — there is nothing Canadians do in any given day that is not affected by how we govern ourselves. As he says inside this booklet: “We cannot work or eat or drink; we cannot buy or sell or own anything; we cannot go to a ball game or a hockey game or watch TV without feeling the effects of government. We cannot marry or educate our children, cannot be sick, born or buried without the hand of government somewhere intervening.” Through this lively and readable booklet, Senator Forsey has helped tens of thousands of students, teachers, legislators and ordinary citizens in Canada and around the world understand the Canadian system of government.



How Canadians Govern Themselves, first published in 1980, explores Canada’s parliamentary system, from the decisions made by the Fathers of Confederation to the daily work of parliamentarians in the Senate and House of Commons. Useful information on Canada’s Constitution, the judicial system, and provincial and municipal powers is gathered together in this one reference book. The author adapted some material taken from an earlier edition prepared by Joseph Schull and published under the same title in 1971.

The book was initially commissioned by the Department of the Secretary of State of Canada, which also published the second edition. The House of Commons published the third edition. The fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and this eighth edition were published by the Library of Parliament in consultation with the author’s family and with the approval of the Department of Canadian Heritage. A deliberate effort has been made in each edition to keep revisions to a minimum and to preserve the integrity of Senator Forsey’s historical judgements and writing style.

The ideas and opinions expressed in this document belong to the author or his authorized successors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Parliament.

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