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Political Process and Behaviour in Canada
Lecture 1: Ways of Thinking about the political process
Politics and the policy process
–Politics: the activity by which rival claims are settled by public authority
–Rival: highlights the competition over finite political resources
–Finances (money which is available to spend on the public)
–legislative time (government must decide what its legislative priorities are)
–Claims: there are demands which are expressed and channeled through the political system
–we want things (money, equality, healthcare, even playing field, opportunity)
•Not all demands can be met
–Public: requires a collective response to these demands, the power of the collective will has to be
harnessed and issues cannot simply be addressed by individuals on their own. The result being
that we need politics to solve our problems.
–Authority: must engage the power of the state.
Stages of a political process
–Problem definition (how many fish can you catch? As much as you can eat? As much as possible
to sell to others?)
–getting organized (we need to be attuned to the fact that there will not always be a group there to
influence our government. Eg: Should mothers have to take on the full economic burden to raise
* where do groups come from?
* Building a political constituency
* Creating a public agenda (protest, media and lobbying)
Once there is a demand ...
–Identifying Public policy solutions (how do we argue one way of designing a policy response is
superior to its competitors)
–Agreeing on a way to come to a collective decision (what are the rules about making decisions,
who gets to decide about who gets to decide? Constitutions: what can the PM do? What can an
MP do? What can you do?)
–Implementing a response (How do you know that our universal healthcare single payer system
actual leads to better outcomes? Must be factually supported .... do we eat better? Will it prevent
major illnesses down the road? Not only implementation but also evaluation of the system we are
seeking to implement.
What are the roles of ideas, interests and institutions during each step in a political process?
–What ideas inform people's thinking or motivate their political behaviour?
–How do ideas change or develop across time?
–Political culture: systems of shared meaning, shared group understandings that link
individuals to a collective experience
How do Canadians ideas about what it means to be a citizen affect policies on immigration? How do
these ideas affect race? Affect policy makers perspective on whether or not Natives can be citizens?
Changes the experience of our daily lives.