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Many people confuse these two terms: Indeed, this distinction has always bothered me.

In Canada, for "State" we use the term "Crown" as in "Crown Prosecutor" but then, who's the government? The police?

Well, the Government is the PM/Cabinet of the day - but then, who is the "State"? The Governor-General?


I recently found a simple way to understand the difference between the words "State" and "Government" for ordinary people, such as me.

In Canada, we have State pensions: the CPP in ROC and in Quebec, the RRQ. This is not a Government pension.

OAS (Pension de vieillesse) is a Government pension. 

Edited by August1991
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I learned in a poli sci class that the state is "the organization possessing a monopoly over the exercise of force within a given territorial boundary." Then again, that could just as easily be a government, by that definition, wouldn't you think?

As Louis XIV of France said, "l'etat, c'est moi!" (I am the state.)

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As with our longest reigning monarch, Louis XIV, so is our second longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, the State. The GG is her appointee, a "vice Regal Head of State". The Government is the cabinet, appointed by the Queen, but responsible to Parliament.


Edited by Queenmandy85
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Edward Luttwak described a modern state as having a permanent part, and a more transient part (the in situ "government" of the day). So "the state" can better be described perhaps as the permanent machinery of government, i.e., the professional civil service and the standing armed forces.

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