Canada shares many political, social, and economic interests with Australia. As a large country, Canada largely exports raw material to other countries for refining and manufacturing. Both countries operate with a Westminster style parliament system. Their primary trading partner is the United States, and because of this they have supported the US in many of its economic and political efforts including NATO, UN, and military efforts in the Middle East. With Canada’s primary economic and political ties very US looking, and many of their policies have been seen as reactions to US interests.
Their involvement in the Afghanistan mission has often been described as one of support for NATO and US troops. Canadian and Australian forces also have a long military co-operative history, fighting alongside Australian troops in both World Wars. Canada has also lent forces to the Korean War, and supported the first Gulf War with Australia.
Sharing a common root as a colony of the then British Empire, trade relations began in 1895, and where formalized in 1939. In the recent few years, Canada-Australia ties have remained strong, with Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Wayne Swan visiting Toronto Canada for the 2010 G20 Summit. Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, previously visited Australia in 2007 where he took the opportunity to address Parliament.
Currently Canada supplies consular services to Australians in 23 countries, with Australia supplying those same services to Canadians in 16 countries. Canada and Australia both sit on many world economic and market committees, and often pursue similar goals due to their parallel interests. The challenges that both countries face are very similar, from indigenous people issues, to strengthening economic ties between regions that are separated by large distances. There are also many educational co-operatives between the countries that have allowed students on both sides to participate in exchange programs. Professionals accredited in either nation operate in either country with the same regard to achieved educational status.
The Canadian government is composed of three national institutional branches; the legislative, the executive and the judiciary. The executive branch comprises the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. The Prime Minister is the leader of the party with the largest number of seats in the House of Commons, whose members are elected every 5 years, but more often elections are held every 4 years. The current Government, which is headed by the Conservative Party, led by Stephen Harper, has been in power since 2006, holding a succession of minority governments. Cabinet is drawn from elected officials who ran on the governing party’s platform. Cabinet is also represented in the House of Commons, which represents all elected officials. The Senate, which forms the second half of the legislative branch, is made up of 105 appointed senators, whose main job is to review all legislation drafted in the House, and debate the issues that the proposed legislation involves. The judiciary branch of the federal government represents all the courts in Canada, with the highest federal level being the Supreme Court of Canada.
With a low population density , and a large stock of natural resources to draw upon, Canada represents the 11th largest economy in the world, and is Australia’s 21st largest trading partner. This trade is made up of approximately $1.9 billion in imports, and $1.4 billion in exports. Food stuffs, ore, and agricultural equipment provide for the major bulk of the trade between us. Canada, like Australia has largely escaped the lows of the world economic crisis, due mostly to heavy regulation of its banking system. However, with most of its trade dependent on the US, many of its industries saw shirking margins and layoffs – especially in the auto industry. Recently, concerns over moves by the federal government in Canada made to shield the Canadian oil industry, have caused Australian officials and business people to speak out against perceived protectionist policies.