10 Very Canadian Questions From the Canadian Citizenship Test
Suspicions of "rampant cheating" led the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to make the Canadian Citizenship Test more difficult in 2010. Gone were the brisk, wintery days of 4 to 8 percent failure rates. The test was replaced with a harsh, bitterly cold multiple choice exam with more queries added to the pool of questions, and a minimum passing grade of 75 percent (previously, it had been 60 percent). Immediately after the change, answering 15 of 20 multiple choice questions correctly in 30 minutes proved to be too difficult for 30 percent of the applicants.
To ease the suddenly heavy workflow of the citizenship judges who ultimately rule on the fate of applicants who fail the written exam, a recalibration was applied one month later to get the pass rate in the 80 to 85 percent range, a rate the CIC said would prove that the test is not too easy or too difficult.
A couple of websites provide practice quizzes for the test, which, like the actual exam, use information from the 63 page guide Discover Canada. The kind folks at the Richmond Library provide a practice test, and some of the 137 sample questions from the English language version (you may also take the test in French) will probably make you wish you did your homework.
1. WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE GOVERNOR GENERAL?
a. David Johnston
b. Elizabeth May
c. Dalton McGuinty
d. Michaëlle Jean
A better question: What exactly is a Governor General? A Governor General represents the Canadian monarch, who currently would be Queen Elizabeth II. Since Her Majesty is too busy to deal with much Canada-related business, the Governor General represents Canada on visits abroad and receives royal visitors, heads of state, and foreign ambassadors. Technically, he or she wields a lot of power, capable of kicking out the prime minister if the government was ever stuck in a political stalemate. However, it's mostly considered to be a ceremonial role, and some scholars believe that the reserve power is too archaic to pose a threat—a Governor General has never booted a Prime Minister in the country's history.
The answer to the original question is A) David Johnston, who succeeded D) Michaëlle Jean. Elizabeth May is the Hartford, Connecticut-born leader of the Green Party of Canada. Dalton McGuinty was the Premier of Ontario from 2003 to 2013.
2. WHO IS CANADA'S HEAD OF STATE?
a. Governor General of Canada
b. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
c. Prime Minister
d. Lieutenant Governor
You would maybe figure that the Prime Minister would have the honors, but Canada is still a constitutional monarchy, and its head of state is the monarch. Even though Queen Elizabeth II appears on the $20 bill and on coins, 55 percent of Canadians would prefer a home-grown citizen to have the distinction of Head of State rather than the Queen. In fact, 37 percent of Canadians in a poll conducted last year are in favor (or favour) of abolishing the monarchy entirely, a number that decreased from an earlier survey due to the birth of future King George.
3. IN THE 1960s, QUEBEC EXPERIENCED AN ERA OF RAPID CHANGE. WHAT IS THIS CALLED?
a. The West Movement
b. The Revolution
c. The Quiet Revolution
d. La Francophonie
The answer is The Quiet Revolution. The deaths of Conservative Premier Maurice Duplesses in September 1959 and his successor Paul Sauvé 112 days later led to Liberal government in Quebec, which oversaw a 1960s increase of secularization of society, and huge economic growth. "La Francophonie" is an international organization founded in 1970 representing 57 countries and regions where French is the first or customary language, with Canada as part of that representation. There is no Canadian event that is officially known as "The West Movement" or simply "The Revolution."
4. HOW MANY ELECTORAL DISTRICTS ARE THERE IN CANADA?
The answer is currently 308, but when the next federal election comes around, there will be 338 seats in the House of Commons. The election is tentatively scheduled for October 2015, but elections can technically be called at any time by the Governor General, usually from the advice of the prime minister.
5. WHICH PROVINCES FIRST FORMED CONFEDERATION?
a. Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland
b. Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta
c. Ontario, Quebec, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia
d. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada
The answer is Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
On July 1, 1867, three British colonies became four provinces in the new federal dominion of Canada. The United Province of Canada was divided into Ontario and Quebec, forming Confederation with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Manitoba was next in 1870, followed by British Columbia one year later. Prince Edward Island came next in 1873, once the federal government agreed to operate a ferry link. Alberta and Saskatchewan joined in 1905. Newfoundland was actually last to the party, becoming the tenth province in 1949, and since 2001 has been known as Newfoundland and Labrador.
6. NAME THE FIVE REGIONS OF CANADA
a. Midwest, North, South, East, Central
b. Maritimes, Ontario, Quebec, Prairies and British Columbia
c. Atlantic, Central, Prairie, West Coast and North
d. West, Central, East, Prairies and Territories
The answer is C. There is no official "East."
The Atlantic region and the Maritimes are one and the same and include the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Prince Edward Island. Ontario and Québec make up the Central Region, where half the population of Canada lives. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta are the Prairie Provinces. The West Coast is taken up by British Columbia all by itself. The term "Western provinces" is also used to refer to the Prairies and British Columbia, and the North consists of the three Canadian territories Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
7. WHAT IS THE NAME OF THE ROYAL ANTHEM OF CANADA?
a. O Canada
b. God Save the Queen (or King)
c. Bud the Spud
d. The Star-Spangled Banner
Figuring out the answer is admittedly easy — obviously the Royal Anthem is "God Save the Queen," with "O Canada" being the National Anthem, but what, or who, is "Bud the Spud"?
"Bud the Spud" was the creation of the late country singer Stompin' Tom Connors and the opening track from the 1969 album Bud the Spud and Other Favorites. It's about a proud "son of a gun" folk hero that draws the ire of the police for speeding from Prince Edward Island to Toronto and back delivering high quality potatoes. It peaked at #26 on the Country Tracks chart in 1970, but the song has remained a part of the culture through the years.
8. WHAT DO YOU MARK ON A FEDERAL ELECTION BALLOT?
a. The candidate's name
b. The number for the candidate
c. An "X"
d. The voter's name
The answer is C. You mark the "X" next to the name of the candidate you are voting for. Federal elections currently still use paper ballots.
It is interesting to note that Canadians are apparently less and less pleased with any of their possible representatives. While there is no such option in federal elections, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta recognize "declined votes," which is when an officer hands a voter a ballot and the voter simply hands it right back. The officer writes "declined" on the ballot and it is put on the record that the elector opted not to vote for anyone. This year, 31,399 Ontario citizens declined their ballots, the highest amount in almost 40 years.
9. WHO WAS THE FIRST LEADER OF A RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT IN THE CANADAS IN 1849?
a. Sir John A. Macdonald
b. Robert Baldwin
c. Louis Riel
d. Sir Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine
"Responsible government" refers to a government responsible to the people, not to the monarch or their representatives, giving colonists control of their domestic affairs. For Canada, the creation of one ultimately led to Confederation. D) Sir Louis-Hippolyte La Fontaine was the first Canadian to become Prime Minister of the United Province of Canada, and the first head of a responsible government. Robert Baldwin worked with La Fontaine and led the first "responsible ministry" in Canada. Louis Riel was the founder of Manitoba, and leader of two resistance movements against the Canadian government and its first post-Confederation prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald.
10. WHO WAS SIR SAM STEELE?
a. A great frontier hero, Mounted Policeman and soldier of the Queen
b. A military leader of the Métis in the 19th century
c. The first Prime Minister of Canada
d. The Father of Manitoba
With a name like Sir Sam Steele, you kind of have to be a great frontier hero. The third officer sworn into the North-West Mounted Police, Steele made the NWMP famous for leading his force in keeping the Klondike Gold Rush under control in the Yukon. He fought in the Red River and North-West Rebellions, the Second Boer War, and was commander of the 2nd Canadian division in World War I at the age of 66. For his troubles, the fifth largest mountain in Canada, Mount Steele, is named after him.