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
The Queen as represented by the Governor General:
Any piece of legislation has to be signed by the
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
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
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
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
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