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Lecture 3

Overhead.Week 3.Legislative and Executive.doc

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Political Science
Greg Flynn

LEGISLATIVE AND EXECUTIVE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT Locke’s idea that if you separate out the power of the executive and you limit their power and make them answerable to the people that you can thereby avoid the possibility of tyranny When we talk about our government we are talking about the executive branch and we make them accountable to us and to the legislative branch of government. We also limit the scope of powers that we can use and we need a body to make sure they stay within their powers and that’s where the courts come in. When we talk about the government were not talking about the MPs were talking about the cabinet and the Harper government Executive branch: minister and enforce law Legislative: to make law The government is answerable and accountable to the legislative branch and can only continue in office as long as they maintain that confidence with the legislature. (Upto a period of 5 years) The US: doesn’t matter if the legislature (House of Commons) agree or disagree with the President. The President is accountable to the people. Here a government can only stay in power as long as it maintains the confidence of the legislature therefore the legislative branch is supposed to be stronger than the executive branch. 1) Separation of Powers and Responsible Government 2) Legislative Branch: a) Elements and Purposes Three bodies that consist of the legislative branch: House of Commons (308 members who are elected based on the principles of representation based on population.) Only Canadian citizens over 18 can vote. Parliament must sit once in every 12 months. The charter says they can only sit for a 5 year period. Senate: 105 members divided on a regional basis. Senators sit until 75 yrs old and then they have to retire. The Queen as represented by the Governor General: Any piece of legislation has to be signed by the Governor General. Purposes: Fairly straightforward, it is their job to make law, what is acceptable and unacceptable conduct in our society, this is tied to the will of the executive branch of government but it is the legislature that decides whether it will be passed of not. They also legitimize the laws that pass on our behalf. Representation: They are there to represent our views. They hold the executive into account. b) Parliamentary Supremacy To say that the legislature has the authority to make or unmake any law. It can change the law as it sees fit, there are no restrictions on its legislative authority. It means that the other levels of government are subordinate to the legislative as they can always pass laws and limit what the executive and judicial can do. c) Limits to Parliamentary Supremacy? This notion of supremacy doesn’t exist in Canada because of: 1) Federalism: The idea that we divide our laws between two levels of government i.e can the federal government make laws on basis of banking or hospitals? No because our constitution doesn’t allow it. Having said that they are sort of free to make laws within their jurisdiction but are constrained by other factors like the charter or rights and freedoms. 2) Charter: (Above) 3) Amending Formulae: If you actually wanted to amend the constitution you actually had to go to the queen to do so. Limit on power. Since 1982 we have amending formulas that do provide some sense of supremacy that allows us to change something’s within their jurisdiction. 4) Extraterritoriality: Can the government make laws on behalf of citizens outside the country? Yes they can, the statue of Westminster said they could. The reason the government doesn’t act on this is in fear that other governments would do the same and enact it in Canada. R. v. Bakker: Underage minors prostitution case, fled to Cambodia. Bakker video taped himself with underage girls and then put it online. 1. SEPARATION OF POWERS AND “RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT” When talking about executive government we make them accountable to us through the legislative. Limit scope of powers. Need body to make sure that they hold to those powers, that’s where judicial comes in. Prevent tyranny. Prevent that a ruler can incarcerate us. Most democracies have these similar separations. Governemnt is accountable to legislative branch, and can only continue in office so long that it maintains that confidence or approval. Government can only continue so long as the legislature it is allowed to do so for 5 years. Contrast there is no notinon of contrast in USA doesn’t matter if house of reps or congress agrees with presidents decisions. He is accountable to the people. People vote for him directly. Something that existed prior to confederation. 2. LEGISLATIVE BRANCH a. Elements & Purposes three bodies that consist of legislative branch house of commons, 308 members, elected based on the principles of representation by population. About 1 for every 100,000 canadians approx. restricted to Canadian citizens, 18 or older, must sit once every 12 months. Can sit for no longer than 5 years unless war has been declared by execs. And 2/3 majority members agree to continuation of government. Harper passed law with fixed election dates, 2 elections that have passed since, neither have falled on date. Senate also makes up leg. 105 members. Divided on regional basis. 24 for Ontario, west and quebec, 1 for each of territories, 8 nova scotia, 8 for NB, 8 for Newoundland, 6 for PEI ? senators sit until age 75 then they must retire. Harper trying to alter that. Last member is Queen represented by governor general. Any law needs royal assent from GG. Purposes? 4 purposes * its their job to make law, they write legislation, they tell us whats acceptable and not * legitimation. Legitimize actions of government. Confidence in them. Legislature allows exec to do what they are doing, they are legitimating their behavior on our behalf. HOC approves what he does, makes it legit. * theyre there to behave on our behalf, this is what my constituents want from the law * hold executive to account. b. Parliamentary Supremacy legislature has authorit
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