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Four Canadians indicted on US gambling charges; Online Casino Royale or Ocean's Eleven?

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Calgary Herald: Joker’s Gone Wild As Provinces Wager on Gambling

Cash-strapped governments are rolling the dice on online gambling, with Ontario joining B.C. and the Maritimes in setting up government-run online sites. Quebec is expected to announce one in September.

With up to $1 billion being bet on offshore Internet sites by Canadians, provincial governments want a piece of the pie.

Their justification is that they can aid charities, warn people on their sites about gambling addictions and, of course, pad government coffers.

The arguments in favour of state-sanctioned online gambling include the defensible position that it is better to have people lose their money at home to accountable governments that can use that money for the public good, rather than to some murky private company that only cares about its own profit.

Yet there is a much stronger ethical reason why governments should stay out of the online casino business. Once governments embrace online gambling, they sanction and legitimize one of the most problematic forms of gambling addiction.

Roughly one in five Internet gamblers have a problem — a rate three to four times higher than “land-based” gaming, according to a 2009 study by the Ontario Problem Gambling Research Centre.

The risk of problem gambling among people who gamble on the Internet is 37.9 per cent compared to 7.7 per cent for non-Internet gamblers.

Available 24 hours a day, with nobody to monitor intoxication levels or if the kids are using mom and dad’s credit card, online gambling is inherently more dangerous than VLTs, the so-called “crack cocaine” of gambling. Age verification systems notwithstanding, there are too many issues at stake for governments to ignore. This is not like the lottery ticket business.

According to Garry Smith, research co-ordinator for the Alberta Gambling Research Institute at the University of Alberta, “There’s potential in it for an increase in problem gambling, potential for the increase in youth gambling. It’s very hard to supervise people. They can do it at home. There’s no precautions out there. It would be difficult to stop money laundering using it, and (it) might just increase people’s overall gambling rate.”

People who might never otherwise visit an online site for reasons of security might be far more willing to go on a government site. If the government says it’s OK, it must be fine.

Alberta should avoid going down this road.

Alberta has the second-highest proportion of problem gamblers in Canada (2.2 per cent of the population), the third-highest proportion of moderate problem gamblers (1.7 per cent) and is average in the proportion of severe problem gamblers (0.4 per cent) compared to other provinces, according to a study by the Canadian Psychiatric Association.

This small percentage of the population generates 41 per cent of all gambling revenue, according to a University of Lethbridge study.

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UFC 113 BetUS News

UFC 113 will be quickly upon us this weekend May 8th, 2010. I thought I’d send out a quick reminder and an highlight some of the matches. I’m not sure about you, but I seem to have to constantly reminded of these dates or these events will just pass me by. Anyways, the last event for WEC 48 was really cool and featured some great bouts. I hope UFC 113 will do the same.

The big fight of the night is the re-match Machida vs. Rua for the Light Heavyweight Championship belt. I see things going a little better this time around for Machida. Last fight he got beat up a bit but retained the belt on a split decision. This time he knows he’ll have to be the aggressor and Rua will get caught with his chin out. My pick Machida KO 3rd round.

The fight between Koscheck vs. Daley should be fight of the night and all stand up. Koscheck the more experienced and superior wrestler has indicated he’ll stand and bang with Daley. The brash, cocky Daley has secured a staggering 78% of his 23 wins by knockout. "If he wants to stand-up, that's easy", says Daley. "If you're gonna stand up with me, you're gonna get knocked out--I've said it time and time again." These guys don’t like each other now and Koscheck is going to hate him later after he get’s KO’d. My pick Daley KO 2rd round.

Another potential KO bout is the Kimbo vs Mitrione. Kimbo should be vastly improved skill wise from his showing against Houston Alexander over 6 months ago. He’s got the right work ethic and training now and should be a force at this weight class. Mitrione was one of the better athletes on the TUF 10 season and should be as he did play in the NFL. He only got one of two fights under him so I don’t give him much of a chance. My pick Kimbo KO 2rd round.

One last bout which could also vie for fight of the night is the Stout vs. Stephens one. Stout is one of the fiercest brawlers in the UFC and among all the Canadian fighters on this card he’s the one with the most skill. Stout made his pro debut at the age of 19 and has since racked up a slew of victories.
Stout will surely be a crowd favorite as he defends his home turf against human pitbull Jeremy "Lil' Heathen" Stevens at UFC 113 in Montreal. If both fighters' past performances are any indication, then this fight could be worth the price of admission all by itself!

UFC 113 match-ups

Main Card

Light Heavyweight Championship bout: Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio Rua
Welterweight bout: Josh Koscheck vs. Paul Daley
Lightweight bout: Sam Stout vs. Jeremy Stephens
Heavyweight bout: Kimbo Slice vs. Matt Mitrione
Middleweight bout: Patrick Côté vs. Alan Belcher

Preliminary Card

Middleweight bout: Joe Doerksen vs. Tom Lawlor
Welterweight bout: Marcus Davis vs. Jonathan Goulet
Welterweight bout: TJ Grant vs. Johny Hendricks
Heavyweight bout: Tim Hague vs. Joey Beltran
Welterweight bout: Yoshiyuki Yoshida vs. Mike Guymon
Middleweight bout: Jason MacDonald vs. John Salter

 

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Canada is the world's second-largest country by total area, occupying most of northern North America. Extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, Canada shares land borders with the United States to the northwest and south.

Inhabited first by aboriginal peoples, Canada was founded as a union of British colonies (some of which were formerly French colonies). Canada gained independence from the United Kingdom in an incremental process that began in 1867 and ended in 1982; it remains a Commonwealth Realm.

Canada is a federal constitutional monarchy with parliamentary democracy. Comprising ten provinces and three territories, Canada is a bilingual and multicultural country, with both English and French as official languages at the federal level. A technologically advanced and industrialized nation, Canada maintains a diversified economy that is heavily reliant upon its abundant natural resources and upon trade — particularly with the United States, with which Canada has had a long and complex relationship.

Origin and history of the name
Canada's name
The name Canada comes from a word in the language of the St. Lawrence Iroquoians, canada, meaning "village" or "settlement". In 1535, inhabitants of the present-day Quebec City region used the word to direct Jacques Cartier towards the village of Stadacona. Cartier used the word 'Canada' to refer to not only that village, but the entire area subject to Donnacona, Chief at Stadacona. By 1547, maps began referring to this and the surrounding area as Canada.

The French colony of Canada referred to the part of New France along the Saint Lawrence River and the northern shores of the Great Lakes. Later, it was split into two British colonies, called Upper Canada and Lower Canada until their union as the British Province of Canada in 1841. Upon Confederation in 1867, the name Canada was officially adopted for the new dominion, which was referred to as the Dominion of Canada until the 1950s. As Canada increasingly acquired political authority and autonomy from Britain, the federal government increasingly simply used Canada on state documents and treaties. The Canada Act 1982 refers only to "Canada" and, as such, it is currently the only legal (and bilingual) name. This was reflected again in 1982 with the renaming of the national holiday from Dominion Day to Canada Day.

History
Main articles: History of Canada and Timeline of Canadian history
Aboriginal tradition holds that the First Peoples inhabited parts of Canada since the dawn of time. Archaeological studies support a human presence in northern Yukon to 26,500 years ago, and in southern Ontario to 9,500 years ago. Europeans first arrived when the Vikings settled briefly at L'Anse aux Meadows circa AD 1000.

Map of New France showing location of First Nations - 1702The next Europeans to explore Canada's Atlantic coast included John Cabot in 1497 for England and Jacques Cartier in 1534 for France. French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrived in 1603 and established the first permanent European settlements at Port Royal in 1605 and Quebec City in 1608. Among French colonists of New France, Canadiens extensively settled the St. Lawrence River valley, Acadians settled the present-day Maritimes, while French fur traders and Catholic missionaries explored the Great Lakes, Hudson Bay and the Mississippi watershed to Louisiana. The French and Iroquois Wars broke out over control of the fur trade.

The English established fishing outposts in Newfoundland around 1610 and colonized the Thirteen Colonies to the south. A series of four Intercolonial Wars erupted between 1689 and 1763. Mainland Nova Scotia came under British rule with the Treaty of Utrecht (1713); the Treaty of Paris (1763) ceded all of New France to Britain following the Seven Years' War.

The Death of General Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham at Quebec in 1759.The Royal Proclamation (1763) carved the Province of Quebec out of New France and annexed Cape Breton Island to Nova Scotia. It also restricted the language and religious rights of French Canadians. In 1769, St. John's Island (now Prince Edward Island) became a separate colony. To avert conflict in Quebec, the Quebec Act of 1774 expanded Quebec's territory to the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, and re-established the French language, Catholic faith, and French civil law in Quebec; it angered many residents of the Thirteen Colonies, helping to fuel the American Revolution. The Treaty of Paris (1783) recognized American independence and ceded territories south of the Great Lakes to the Unites States. Approximately 50,000 United Empire Loyalists moved from the United States to Canada. New Brunswick was carved out of Nova Scotia to recognize their settlements in the Maritimes. To accommodate the English-speaking Loyalists in Quebec, the province was divided into French-speaking Lower Canada and English-speaking Upper Canada under the Constitutional Act in 1791, and granted each their own elected Legislative Assembly.

The Canadas 1791, upper (orange) and lower (green)Canada was a major front in the War of 1812 between the United States and British Empire. Its successful defence contributed to a sense of unity among British North Americans. Large-scale immigration to Canada began in 1815 from Britain and Ireland. The timber industry would also surpass the fur trade in importance in the early 1800's.

The desire for Responsible Government in the Canadas resulted in the aborted Rebellions of 1837. As a result, The Durham Report(1839) recommended responsible government and the assimilation of French Canadians into British culture. The Act of Union (1840) merged The Canadas into a the United Province of Canada. French and English Canadians would work together in the Assembly to reinstate French rights and later establish responsible government in 1849, as would all British North American colonies.

The signing of the Oregon Treaty by Britain and the United States in 1846 ended the Oregon boundary dispute, extending the border westward along the 49th parallel, and paving the way for British colonies on Vancouver Island (1849) and in British Columbia (1858). Canada launched a series of western exploratory expeditions to claim Rupert's Land and the Arctic region. The Canadian population grew rapidly because of high birth rates; British immigration was offset by emigration to the United States, especially by French Canadians moving to New England.

Confederation

Evolution of the borders and names of Canada's provinces and territories. Following several constitutional conferences, the British North America Act brought about Confederation creating "one dominion under the name of Canada" with four provinces: Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick. As Canada assumed control of Rupert's Land and the North-Western Territory to form the Northwest Territories, Métis grievances ignited the Red River Rebellion and the creation of the province of Manitoba in July 1870. British Columbia and Vancouver Island (which had united in 1866) and the colony of Prince Edward Island joined Confederation in 1871 and 1873, respectively. Prime Minister John A. MacDonald's Conservative Party established a National Policy of tarrifs to protect nascent Canadian manufacturing industries. To open the West, the government sponsored construction of three trans-continental railways (most notably the Canadian Pacific Railway), opened the prairies to settlement with the Dominion Lands Act, and established the North West Mounted Police to assert it's authority over this territory. Under Liberal Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, continental European immigrants settled the prairies, and Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces in 1905.

Canadian soldiers advance behind a tank at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.Canada automatically entered the First World War in 1914 with Britain's declaration of war, sending volunteers to the Western Front to fight as a national contingent. Casualties were so high that Prime Minister Robert Borden was forced to bring in conscription in 1917; this move was extremely unpopular in Quebec, resulting in his Conservative party losing support in that province. Although the Liberals were deeply divided over conscription, they became the dominant political party.

In 1919, Canada joined the League of Nations in its own right, and in 1931 the Statute of Westminster confirmed Canada's independence from Britain. At the same time, the worldwide Great Depression of 1929 affected Canadians of every class; the rise of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in Alberta and Saskatchewan presaged a welfare state as pioneered by Tommy Douglas in the 1940s and 1950s. After supporting appeasement of Germany in the late 1930s, Liberal Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King secured Parliament’s approval for entry into the Second World War in September 1939, after Germany invaded Poland. The first Canadian Army units arrived in Britain in December 1939. The economy boomed during the war mainly due to the amount of military materiel being produced for Canada, Britain, China and the Soviet Union. Canada finished the war with one of the largest militaries in the world. In 1949, the formerly independent Dominion of Newfoundland joined the Confederation as Canada's 10th province.

By Canada's centennial in 1967, heavy post-war immigration from various war-ravaged European countries had changed the country's demographics. Increased immigration, combined with the baby boom, an economic strength paralleling that of the 1960s United States, and reaction to the Quiet Revolution in Quebec, initiated a new type of Canadian nationalism based on bilingualism and multiculturalism. During the Vietnam War, thousands of American draft dodgers and politically-motivated migrants fled to and settled in various parts of Canada, shifting the political centre in Canada slightly to the left.

After Quebec underwent profound social and economic changes during the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, some Québécois began pressing for greater provincial autonomy, or partial or complete independence from Canada. Alienation between English-speaking Canadians and the Québécois over the language, cultural and social divide had been exacerbated by many events, including the Conscription Crisis of 1944. While a referendum on sovereignty-association in 1980 was rejected by a solid majority of the population, a second referendum in 1995 was rejected by a margin of just 50.6% to 49.4%. In 1997, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled unilateral secession by a province to be unconstitutional; Quebec's sovereignty movement has continued nonetheless.

At a meeting of First Ministers in November 1981, Prime minister Pierre Trudeau pushed through the patriation of the constitution, adding an amending formula and enshrining a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Only the Quebec government did not agree to the changes. On 17 April 1982, Canada formally patriated its Constitution from Britain.

Economic integration with the United States has increased significantly since World War II. The Canada-United States Free Trade Agreement of 1987 was a defining moment in integrating the two countries. In recent decades, Canadians have worried about their cultural autonomy as American television shows, movies and corporations became omnipresent. However, Canadians take special pride in their system of universal health care and their commitment to multiculturalism.

Government
Government of Canada, Politics of Canada, and Monarchy in Canada

Parliament Hill, Ottawa.Canada is a constitutional monarchy with Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada as head of state, and a parliamentary democracy with a federal system of parliamentary government and strong democratic traditions.

Canada's constitution governs the legal framework of the country and consists of written text and unwritten traditions and conventions. The Constitution includes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees basic rights and freedoms for Canadians that, generally, cannot be overridden by legislation of any level of government in Canada. It contains, however, a "notwithstanding clause", which allows the federal parliament and the provincial legislatures the power to override some other sections of the Charter temporarily, for a period of five years.

The position of Prime Minister, Canada's head of government, belongs to the leader of the political party that can obtain the confidence of a plurality in the House of Commons. The Prime Minister and their Cabinet are formally appointed by the Governor General (who is the Monarch's representative in Canada). However, the Prime Minister chooses the Cabinet, and by convention, the Governor General respects the Prime Minister's choices. The Cabinet is traditionally drawn from members of the Prime Minister's party in both legislative houses, and mostly from the House of Commons. Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and Cabinet, all of whom are sworn into the Queen's Privy Council for Canada, and become Ministers of the Crown. The Prime Minister exercises vast political power, especially in the appointment of other officials within the government and civil service. Michaëlle Jean has served as Governor General since September 25, 2005, and Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party, has served as Prime Minister since February 6, 2006.

The federal parliament is made up of the Queen and two houses: an elected House of Commons and an appointed Senate. Each member in the House of Commons is elected by simple plurality in a "riding" or electoral district; general elections are called by the Governor General when the Prime Minister so advises. While there is no minimum term for a Parliament, a new election must be called within five years of the last general election. Members of the Senate, whose seats are apportioned on a regional basis, are chosen by the Prime Minister and formally appointed by the Governor General, and serve until age 75.

Canada's four major political parties are the Conservative Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party (NDP), and the Bloc Québécois. The current government is formed by the Conservative Party of Canada. While the Green Party of Canada and other smaller parties do not have current representation in Parliament, the list of historical parties with elected representation is substantial.

Law
Law of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, west of Parliament Hill.Canada's judiciary plays an important role in interpreting laws and has the power to strike down laws that violate the Constitution. The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest court and final arbiter and is led by the Right Honourable Madam Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, P.C. Its nine members are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. All judges at the superior and appellate levels are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the prime minister and minister of justice, after consultation with non-governmental legal bodies. The federal cabinet appoints justices to superior courts at the provincial and territorial levels. Judicial posts at the lower provincial and territorial levels are filled by their respective governments (see Court system of Canada for more detail).

Common law prevails everywhere except in Quebec, where civil law predominates. Criminal law is solely a federal responsibility and is uniform throughout Canada. Law enforcement, including criminal courts, is a provincial responsibility, but in rural areas of all provinces but Ontario and Quebec policing is contracted to the federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).


Foreign relations and military
Foreign relations of Canada, Canadian Forces, and Military history of Canada

The Peacekeeping Monument in Ottawa.Canada has a close relationship with the United States, sharing the world's longest undefended border, co-operating on some military campaigns and exercises, and being each other's largest trading partners. Canada also shares history and long relationships with the United Kingdom and France, the two former imperial powers most influential in its founding. These relations extend to other former-members of the British and French empires, through Canada's membership in the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie.

Canada joined the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1990 and hosted the OAS General Assembly in Windsor in June 2000, and the third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in April 2001. Canada seeks to expand its ties to Pacific Rim economies through membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC).

Over the past sixty years, Canada has been an advocate for multilateralism, making efforts to resolve global issues in collaboration with other nations. This was clearly demonstrated during the Suez Crisis of 1956 when Lester B. Pearson eased tensions by proposing peacekeeping efforts and the inception of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force.[22] In that spirit, Canada developed and has tried to maintain a leading role in UN peacekeeping efforts; Canada has served in 50 peacekeeping missions, including every UN peacekeeping effort until 1989. Canada's UN peacekeeping contributions have diminished over the first years of the 21st century. Although Canadian foreign policy is often similar to that of the United States, Canada has always maintained an independent foreign policy in such areas as maintaining full diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba.

Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.A founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Canada currently employs about 64,000 regular and 26,000 reserve military personnel. The unified Canadian Forces (CF) comprise the army, navy, and air force. Major CF equipment deployed includes 1,400 armoured fighting vehicles, 34 combat vessels, and 861 aircraft.

In addition to major participation in the Second Boer War, the First World War, the Second World War, and the Korean War, Canada has maintained forces in international missions under the United Nations and NATO since 1950, including peacekeeping missions, various missions in the former Yugoslavia, and support to coalition forces in the First Gulf War. Since 2001, Canada has had troops deployed in Afghanistan as part of the U.S. stabilization force and the UN-authorized, NATO-commanded International Security Assistance Force. Canada's Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) has participated in three major relief efforts in the past two years; the two-hundred member team has been deployed in relief operations after the December 2004 tsunami in South Asia, the Hurricane Katrina in September 2005 and the Kashmir earthquake in October 2005.


Administrative divisions
Provinces and territories of Canada

A geopolitical map of Canada, exhibiting its ten provinces and three territories.Canada is composed of ten provinces and three territories. The provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan. The three territories are the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon. The provinces have a large degree of autonomy from the federal government, the territories somewhat less. Each has its own provincial or territorial symbols.

The provinces are responsible for most of Canada's social programs (such as health care, education, and welfare) and together collect more revenue than the federal government, an almost unique structure among federations in the world. Using its spending powers, the federal government can initiate national policies in provincial areas, such as the Canada Health Act; the provinces can opt out of these, but rarely do so in practice. Equalization payments are made by the federal government to ensure that reasonably uniform standards of services and taxation are kept between the richer and poorer provinces.

All provinces have unicameral, elected legislatures headed by a Premier selected in the same way as the Prime Minister of Canada. Each province also has a Lieutenant-Governor representing the Queen, analogous to the Governor General of Canada, appointed on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of Canada, though with increasing levels of consultation with provincial governments in recent years.

Geography and climate
Geography of Canada

A satellite composite image of Canada. Boreal forests prevail throughout the country, ice is prominent in the Arctic and through the Coast Mountains and Saint Elias Mountains, and the relatively flat Prairies facilitate agriculture. The Great Lakes feed the St. Lawrence River (in the southeast) where lowlands host much of Canada's population.Canada occupies most of the northern portion of North America. It shares land borders with the contiguous United States to the south and with the US state of Alaska to the northwest, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west; to the north lies the Arctic Ocean. Since 1925, Canada has claimed the portion of the Arctic between 60°W and 141°W longitude; this claim is not universally recognized. The northernmost settlement in Canada (and in the world) is Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island—latitude 82.5°N—just 817 kilometres (450 nautical miles) from the North Pole. Canada is the world's second-largest country in total area, after Russia.

The population density of 3.5 people per square kilometre (9.1/mi²) is among the lowest in the world. The most densely populated part of the country is the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor along the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River in the southeast.[29] To the north of this region is the broad Canadian Shield, an area of rock scoured clean by the last ice age, thinly soiled, rich in minerals, and dotted with lakes and rivers—Canada by far has more lakes than any other country in the world and has a large amount of the world's freshwater.

The Horseshoe Falls in Ontario is the largest component of Niagara Falls, one of the world's most voluminous waterfalls, a major source of hydroelectric power, and a tourist destination.In eastern Canada, the Saint Lawrence River widens into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, the world's largest estuary; the island of Newfoundland lies at its mouth. South of the Gulf, the Canadian Maritimes protrude eastward from the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are divided by the Bay of Fundy, which experiences the world's largest tidal variations. Ontario and Hudson Bay dominate central Canada. West of Ontario, the broad, flat Canadian Prairies spread toward the Rocky Mountains, which separate them from British Columbia.

Northern Canadian vegetation tapers from coniferous forests to tundra and finally to Arctic barrens in the far north. The northern Canadian mainland is ringed with a vast archipelago containing some of the world's largest islands.

Average winter and summer high temperatures across Canada vary depending on the location. Winters can be harsh in many regions of the country, particularly in the Prairie provinces, where daily average temperatures are near -15°C (5°F), but can drop below -40°C (-40°F) with severe wind chills. Coastal British Columbia is an exception and enjoys a temperate climate with a mild and rainy winter.

On the east and west coast average high temperatures are generally in the low 20°C (68 to 74°F), while between the coasts the average summer high temperature range between 25°C to 30°C (78 to 86°F) with occasional extreme heat in some interior locations exceeding 40°C (104°F). For a more complete description of climate across Canada see Environment Canada's Website.

Economy
Economy of Canada and Economic history of Canada

Five denominations of Canadian banknotes, depicting (from top to bottom) Wilfrid Laurier, John A. Macdonald, Queen Elizabeth II, William Lyon Mackenzie King, and Robert Borden.Canada is one of the world's wealthiest nations with a high per capita income, a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Group of Eight (G8). Canada is a free market economy with slightly more government intervention than the United States, but much less than most European nations. Canada has traditionally had a lower per capita gross domestic product (GDP) than its southern neighbour (whereas wealth has been more equally divided), but higher than the large western European economies.For the past decade, the Canadian economy has been growing rapidly with low unemployment and large government surpluses on the federal level. Today Canada closely resembles the U.S. in its market-oriented economic system, pattern of production, and high living standards. While as of October 2006, Canada's national unemployment rate of 6.3% is among its lowest in 30 years, provincial unemployment rates vary from a low of 3.6% in Alberta to a high of 14.6% in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the past century, the growth of the manufacturing, mining, and service sectors has transformed the nation from a largely rural economy into one primarily industrial and urban. As with other first world nations, the Canadian economy is dominated by the service industry, which employs about three quarters of Canadians. However, Canada is unusual among developed countries in the importance of the primary sector, with the logging and oil industries being two of Canada's most important.

Canada is one of the few developed nations that is a net exporter of energy. Canada has vast deposits of natural gas on the east coast and large oil and gas resources centred in Alberta, and also present in neighbouring British Columbia and Saskatchewan. The vast Athabasca Tar Sands give Canada the world's second largest reserves of oil behind Saudi Arabia. In Quebec, British Columbia, Newfoundland & Labrador, Ontario and Manitoba, hydroelectric power is a cheap and relatively environmentally friendly source of abundant energy.

Canada is one of the world's most important suppliers of agricultural products, with the Canadian Prairies one of the most important suppliers of wheat and other grains. Canada is the world's largest producer of zinc and uranium and a world leader in many other natural resources such as gold, nickel, aluminum, and lead; many, if not most, towns in the northern part of the country, where agriculture is difficult, exist because of a nearby mine or source of timber. Canada also has a sizeable manufacturing sector, centred in southern Ontario and Quebec, with the automobile industry especially important.

Canada is highly dependent on international trade, especially trade with the United States. The 1989 Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which included Mexico) touched off a dramatic increase in trade and economic integration with the U.S. Since 2001, Canada has successfully avoided economic recession and has maintained the best overall economic performance in the G8. Since the mid 1990s, Canada's federal government has posted annual budgetary surpluses and has steadily paid down the national debt.

Demographics
Demographics of Canada, List of cities in Canada, List of Canadians by ethnicity, and Immigration to Canada

13.4% of the Canadian population are visible minorities.
A graph showing the biggest ethnic groups present in Canada.The 2001 national census recorded 30,007,094 people; the population was estimated by Statistics Canada to be 32.623 million people on July 1, 2006. Population growth is largely accomplished through immigration and, to a lesser extent, natural growth. About three-quarters of Canada's population live within 160 kilometres (100 mi) of the U.S. border.[48] A similar proportion live in urban areas concentrated in the Quebec City-Windsor Corridor (notably the Golden Horseshoe - South Central Ontario, Montreal, and Ottawa metropolitan areas, the BC Lower Mainland (Vancouver and environs), and the Calgary-Edmonton Corridor in Alberta.

Canada is an ethnically diverse nation. According to the 2001 census, it has 34 ethnic groups with at least one hundred thousand members each. The largest ethnic group is "Canadian" (39.4%), followed by English (20.2%), French (15.8%), Scottish (14.0%), Irish (12.9%), German (9.3%), Italian (4.3%), Chinese (3.7%), Ukrainian (3.6%) and First Nations (3.4%).[50] Canada's aboriginal population is growing almost twice as fast as the rest of the Canadian population. In 2001, 13.4% of the population belonged to visible minorities. According to the federal government, Canada has the highest per capita immigration rate in the world, driven by economic, family reunification, and humanitarian reasons. Immigrants are particularly attracted to the major urban areas of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

Top religious denominations in Canada in 2001.Canadians adhere to a wide variety of religions, as people in Canada have the freedom of religion as one of their rights. According to 2001 census, 77.1% of Canadians identified as being Christians; of this, Catholics make up the largest group (43.6% of Canadians). The largest Protestant denomination is the United Church of Canada; about 16.5% of Canadians declared no religious affiliation, and the remaining 6.3% were affiliated with religions other than Christianity, of which the largest is Islam.

In Canada, the provinces and territories are responsible for education; thus Canada has no national department of education. Each of the thirteen education systems are similar while reflecting their own regional history, culture and geography. The mandatory school age varies across Canada but generally ranges between the ages of 5-7 to 16-18, contributing to an adult literacy rate that is 99%. Postsecondary education is the responsibility of the provincial and territorial governments that provide most of their funding; the federal government provides additional funding through research grants. In 2002, 43% of Canadians aged between 25 and 64 had post-secondary education; for those aged 25 to 34 the postsecondary attainment reaches 51%.

Language
Main articles: Language in Canada and Bilingualism in Canada

The population of Montreal is mainly French-speaking, with a significant English-speaking community.Canada's two official languages, English and French, are the mother tongues of 59.7% and 23.2% of the population, respectively. On July 7, 1969, under the Official Languages Act, French was made commensurate to English throughout the federal government. This started a process that led to Canada redefining itself as an officially "bilingual" nation.

English and French have equal status in federal courts, Parliament, and in all federal institutions. The public has the right, where there is sufficient demand, to receive federal government services in either English or French. While multiculturalism is official policy, to become a citizen one must be able to speak either English or French, and 98.5% of Canadians speak at least one (English only: 67.5%, French only: 13.3%, both: 17.7%).

French is mostly spoken in Quebec, but there are substantial francophone populations elsewhere, mainly in the northern parts of New Brunswick, eastern, northern and southwestern Ontario, and southern Manitoba. Of those who speak French as a first language, 85% live in Quebec. Ontario has the largest French population outside Quebec. French has been the only official language of Quebec since 1974; New Brunswick is the only officially bilingual province in the country. No provinces other than Quebec and New Brunswick have constitutionally official language(s) as such, but French is used as a language of instruction, in courts, and other government services in all of the majority English or Inuktitut speaking provinces and territories. In Ontario, French has some legal status but is not fully co-official. Several aboriginal languages have official status in Northwest Territories. Inuktitut is the majority language in Nunavut, and one of three official languages in the territory.

Non-official languages are important in Canada, with 5,202,245 people listing one as a first language. Some significant non-official first languages include Chinese (853,745 first-language speakers), Italian (469,485), German (438,080), and Punjabi (271,220).

Culture
Main articles: Culture of Canada, National symbols of Canada, and Sport in Canada

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, seen here at Expo 67, are the federal and national police force of Canada and an international icon.Canadian culture has historically been influenced by British, French, and Aboriginal cultures and traditions. It has also been influenced by American culture because of its proximity and migration between the two countries. American media and entertainment are popular if not dominant in Canada; conversely, many Canadian cultural products and entertainers are successful in the US and worldwide. Many cultural products are marketed toward a unified "North American" or global market.

The creation and preservation of distinctly Canadian culture are supported by federal government programs, laws and institutions such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

A Kwakwaka'wakw totem pole and traditional "big house" in Victoria, BC.Canada is a geographically vast and ethnically diverse country. There are cultural variations and distinctions from province to province and region to region. Canadian culture has also been greatly influenced by immigration from all over the world. Many Canadians value multiculturalism, and see Canadian culture as being inherently multicultural. Multicultural heritage is enshrined in Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

National symbols are influenced by natural, historical, and First Nations sources. Particularly, the use of the maple leaf, as a Canadian symbol, dates back to the early 18th century and is depicted on its current and previous flags, the penny, and on the coat of arms. Other prominent symbols include the beaver, Canada goose, common loon, the Crown, and the RCMP.

Canada's official national sports are ice hockey (winter) and lacrosse (summer). Hockey is a national pastime and the most popular spectator sport in the country. It is also the most popular sport Canadians play, with 1.65 million active participants in 2004. Canada's six largest metropolitan areas - Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary, and Edmonton - have franchises in the National Hockey League (NHL), and there are more Canadian players in the league than from all other countries combined. After hockey, other popular spectator sports include Canadian football and curling. The Canadian Football League (CFL) is the nation's second most popular professional sports league, and plays a large role in Canada's national identity. Golf, baseball, skiing, soccer, volleyball, and basketball are also widely played at youth and amateur levels, but professional leagues and franchises are not as widespread. Canada will host the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia. (Credit: Wikipedia)

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