Differences in national culture and issues, while meaningful, do not on their own explain things. After all, Canada also has two parties that mostly dominate national politics, an urban-rural divide, deepening culture wars and a rising far-right. And guns have been a contentious issue there for decades, one long contested by activist groups.
Rather, much of the gap in how these two countries handle contentious policy questions comes down to something that can feel invisible amid day-to-day politicking, but may be just as important as the issues themselves: the structures of their political systems.
Canada’s is a parliamentary system. Its head of government, Justin Trudeau, is elevated to that job by the legislature, of which he is also a member, and which his party, in collaboration with another, controls.
If Mr. Trudeau wants to pass a new law, he must merely ask his subordinates in his party and their allies to do it. There is no such thing as divided government and less cross-party horse-trading and legislative gridlock (emphasis added).