Right after my internship with the Canadian Parliament, I flew to Washington, DC to intern for my Congressman on Capitol Hill. This opportunity has given me a fantastic point of view, as I got such a great inside look into the two systems. Some of the differences in American and Canadian politics are cultural, and some stem directly from the system. This is really helpful to know as I continue trying to figure out what my career should be.
A key difference I notice is the effect of a parliamentary system versus a Presidential system. Canada’s parliamentary system means that the Prime Minister heads the legislative branch while also leading the country. This means that in Canada, Trudeau and the Liberal party are able to accomplish a great deal of their agenda, because their agenda is the same. In the United States, our system of checks and balances leads to a ton of gridlock. Even now, when Trump the Republican has a Republican-controlled Congress, because Trump and the Executive Branch are separate from the Legislative Branch, Congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration are entirely different.
For my internship, this has led to difficulties explaining to constituents why Congress can’t immediately stop actions of the Trump administration. Congress works so slowly because a completely different branch of government is in charge of enforcing the laws. When constituents call, I often wish I could do more in terms of letting them know what Congress is able to do to stop the President. Besides the political difficulties of this, my internships have taught me the existence of this structural difficulty as well.