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Prime minister vs. president: what’s the difference?

Monday - 24/07/2017 21:28
Did you know that different countries have different kinds of leaders? Here in Canada, we have a prime minister

Did you know that different countries have different kinds of leaders? Here in Canada, we have a prime minister, but in the United States, their leader is a president. While both jobs are positions of power, there are quite a few differences between our prime minister and the States’ president. Learn all about prime ministers and presidents with these fun facts and wow your friends!

Prime minister

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau smiling in front of Canadian flags
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Who? Justin Trudeau is Canada’s 23rd prime minister, elected on October 19, 2015. As prime minister, Trudeau is the leader of the party in power, which in this case is the Liberal Party, and the head of government. (P.S. You can also call him the Right Honourable or the Prime Minister of Canada.)

What? It is the prime minister’s job to lead cabinet meetings, answer questions in the House of Commons and meet with official foreign delegates, which is someone who is representing another country.   

When? Canada elects a prime minister on the third Monday in October, four years after the election before it. Once elected, the prime minister serves at Her Majesty’s pleasure (that's the Queen!) — that means there’s no time limit for how long someone can be prime minister.     

How? You don’t have to be a certain age, but you do have to be a Canadian citizen (though not necessarily born in the country) to be prime minister, so better get your campaign ready!


Close-up of Donald Trump.
President Donald Trump. (Pool/Getty Images News)

Who? Donald Trump is the United States' 45th president, elected on November 8, 2016.

What? It is the president’s job to lead the executive branch of the federal government, which is a system that directs all the states, and act as commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces — but there's a whole committee of people who help make the big decisions.

When? The United States elects a president every four years, on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. (We know, it’s a bit confusing!) Once elected, the president can serve for no longer than two terms, each of which has a maximum length of four years.

How? To be president, you must be a United States citizen who was either born in the country or received citizenship at birth. You must also be at least 35 years old and have lived in the States for at least 14 years.

Their offices are snazzy

Canada's Parliament Hill and the United States' White House

The president gets to live and work in the White House. The prime minister only works on Parliament Hill, but they get to live in a big house at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa.

Women rule!

Canada's Kim Campbell was the first woman to be prime minister and the United States has a blank space since they haven't had a woman president yet

The United States have yet to elect their very first woman as president, but here in Canada, we had our first female prime minister way back in the nineties when she took over for Brian Mulroney who was retiring from politics.

Young presidents aren't really young

Canada's Joe Clark, age 39, and the United States' John F. Kennedy, age 43

Prime ministers and presidents may be able to be elected young, but the youngest ones are still as old as your parents!

But old presidents are pretty old

Canada's Sir Charles Tupper, age 74, and the United States' Ronald Reagan, age 69

And the oldest elected prime minister and president are as old as your grandparents!

Battle of the bills

On the $100 bill: Canada's Sir Robert Borden and the United States' Benjamin Franklin

Prime ministers can only be on paper money, not on coins. Sir Robert Borden, the 8th prime minister of Canada, is on the $100 bill. He did a lot of great things during his time as PM including a bill for the right of women to vote.

Presidents can be on paper money and coins. Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the U.S., is on the $100 bill. This seems like a pretty good reason to be on the bill, but he also invented many things including lightning rods and bifocal glasses.

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