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Lecture 12

PSCI 2003 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry, Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, Parliamentary Sovereignty

Political Science
Course Code
PSCI 2003
J Malloy

of 20
Canadian Political Institutions
Short Assignment:
John Ibbitson: “ Bill – C Could be the upper House’s Defining moment” The Globe and Mail, June 8,
Andrew Coyne: “New Senate activism undermines the very principle of democracy” The National Post,
June 8, 2016
Living Institutions
How Canadian Institutions work and have evolved
How they shape our political changes and outcomes
How our Institutions compare to similar countries like Britain, US and Australia
The impact of gender and racial diversity on political institutions
The idea that institutions are not just buildings and set of rules. But actively shape politics themselves
“Path dependence” p. 10
Institutional Legitimacy
Critical Approaches
Institutional – e.g. path dependence
State-based – e.g. elite accommodations, agency capture
Political sociology – e.g. class analysis
Political psychology and behavior – individual choices
Rational choices approaches – self interested utility maximizing
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Historical Foundations
1. The Partly-Written Constitution
Constitution: The underlying rules and norms of a society or organization
“the basic framework for the operation of the whole political system”
Types of constitutions
Written, unwritten, or partly written
“Unwritten conventions”
Two types of constitution making styles (P. Russell Constitutional Odyssey)
Lockean – contractual, agreed, one time
Burkean – traditional, organic, evolving
US – single written constitution (1789)
Formally amended 27 times in 225 years
Notable failure: the 1970s Equal Rights Amendment
Example of Lockean constitution
UK - no written constitution
Historic documents (Magna Carta, 1689 Bill of Rights, etc,) emphasize parliamentary supremacy and
Example of Burkean constitution
Canada – partly written constitution
Constitutional documents (like US)
-Constitution Act 1867 (previously BNA act)
-Constitution Act 1982 (Inc. Charter of Rights and Freedoms)
- Others (would have included Meech Lake accord)
Unwritten conventions (like UK)
- E.g. formation od government
- Prime Minister – no job description
Further interpreted by judicial rulings, evolution of time
- 1990s inclusion of the same sex-marriage in Charter of Rights (compare with US – ERA)
2. Canada as Historic Accident
Canada in 1763
- Aboriginal origins
- Global imperial game
- British victory over France in 1763
- Growing discontent in thirteen Colonies (USA)
British North America, 1763
- Aboriginals = Royal Proclamation of 1763
- Quebecois = Quebec Act
3 protections: Language, religion, civil law
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“Responsible Government”
- As of 1791 Canada had representative bot not responsible government
- 1837 Rebellion – Lord Durham ( Lord Durham Report)
Gave two recommendations: merge u+ L Canada, responsible government
- Nova Scotia, 1848
Granted quietly though instructions from London
Soon followed in other colonies
- Gradual – Evolutionary – Undramatic
- Unwritten
3. Confederation
1864 – Charlottetown and Quebec conferences
Why Confederation?
1. Canada West – Rep-by-Pop
2. French Canadian Fears
3. British Pressures
4. American Threat
5. Maritime Union
6. Western Expansion
Parliamentary and Federal System –both concentrated and divided power-
4. Ties with Britain
6 elements… 5 gone with 1 remaining
a) Foreign Policy
b) Citizenship
c) Courts
d) Flag
e) Patriating
f) Head of State…
5. The Crown
Crown = “collectivity of executive powers exercised by or in the name of the monarch”
Monarch = “holds the powers on behalf of the people, as a custodian or trustee”
The Crown
Pro Con
Historic and traditional symbol; part of our history Outdated; elitist; British only heritage
Unifying and symbolic head of state- Queen with GG
as local representatives
Queen lives far away; rarely visits; questionable
GG and reserve power acts as “constitutional fire
Uneven quality of Governor Generals
Reserve Power vague, even dangerous?
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