POLI 221 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Responsible Government, Grand Jury, Elective Dictatorship

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-Reform: Stengthening House
1)Executive-Centred
2)Parliamentry-Centred
-Objectives: Place some constraints on PM power/ Enhance the role of H of
Commons.
-We got collective as policys, without collective as politics. We have policies
which contributed to the growth of the welfare state but the liberal party was
hardly a left wing party. Designed by a bureaucracy.
-We can get bad policies through executive-centered
policies.Presidentialization of power was termed elective dictatorship in
Britain. Despite the power in Britain, it is not as powerful as in Canada.
-They were members of parliament and thought they had a role but they
were simply backbenchers. Their roles have been undermined.
-Government backbenchers see themselves as having to do traditional roles
like checking government. They have a three-line whip. We have a one line
whip in Canada. Everything the government says is treated as a vote of non-
confidence. We are the most executive-centred parliamentary system, we
could move a long the continuum by making the MP’s have a lot more
power.
-MP’s now find their job meaningless.Find a way for them to have a more
meaningful role
-The only role they really have now is the omnibus persons/ serving their
constitutients and constitutencies. Dealing with the bureaucracy like getting
them their passport claims. This is their most satisfying role. Bureaucracy is
large and impersonal so it is a big role but it is not enough for the MP’s role.
-Parliament still plays some purpose. It is not the grand inquest of the
nation, and it does not adequately perform it’s role of accountability but it is
more representative. It gives legitimacy to the government. It passes the
legislation. It gives legitimacy to laws. It is symbolic legitimacy because it is
the peoples house, although it is flawed.
-Sometimes governments don’t always get their way and the H of Commons
is able to refuse their requests.They do stop them and present an alternative
point of view. Negative power to embarrass the government.
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-MP dealing with the bureaucracy , bureaucrates are more likely to respond
quicker to members of parliament than citizens.So, their role is doing case
work. Although it does not help the parliament get reelected. We elect
members because of their leader and the party they represent not their
individual selves.
-PM has far too much power. Checks and balances like the House because of
the convention and principle of responsible government has largely
disappeared in majority government because of strong party discipline. It is
almost as if the H of commons is responsible to the government.
-Enhance the role of the H of commons without moving to parliament
centred system(American style H of congress), but we can have reforms to
constrain the PM and allow the H of commons to keep it’s role of being
accountable.
-Possible Reforms:
1)Relax discipline: 1/2/3 whip system or constructive Non-confidence vote
requirements.- You can vote according to what you think will represent your
constituency. KEY THING: You will not be punished if you do not agree. Your
post parliamentary carreer is very dependent on the PM’s power. The 3 line
whip, suggests that this is absolutely fundamental to our program, it is
central to the election platform like the budget bill. If you vote against it
and we still win, we kick you out of caucus.
-Constructive non-confidence vote: PM can only ask the G.G for an election if
the Government was explicity defeated on a vote of non-confidence(defeated
on a explicit vote of non-confidence). You must be explicitly defeated, this
government does not have the confidence of the House. This means that a
PM cannot rig the game under this and recall an election whenever they
want. This is a slight difference.
2)Limitations on Omnibus bills: Harper exaggerated the use of them, and
Chretien used it as well. We must go back to the standard practice and
abolish these bills. They should be limited to give a legal effect to the
specific parts of the budget not be used the way they have been, touching
on a bunch of legislation with limited time to study. Members of parliament,
even if they wanted too, cannot do their job. This undermines respect for the
H of commons.
-A rise of partisanship in the H of commons, committees have become mini
Houses of Commons.
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