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Tuesday, October 28th.docx

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University of Calgary
Political Science
POLI 201
Jay Makarenko

Division of Power and Authority - The Canadian Constitution divides power and authority in two important ways: Federalism: Power is divided between different levels of government (federal and provincial exclusive authority). Branches of Government: Power is divided between different branches or institutions of government (within each level). Branches of Government in Canada Legislative: Responsible for enacting legislation - House - Senate Executive: Responsible for initiating legislation and administering law. - Monarch - Governor General - Prime Minister - Public Service - Cabinet Judicial: Responsible for adjudicating law and judicial review. - Supreme Court of Canada - Tribunals - Lower Courts Parliamentary System of Government - Question: how are these different branches organizes in relation to one another? - Answer: they are organized on the principles of Parliamentary Government. Key Principles of Parliamentary Government - Parliamentary Sovereignty: organizing ultimate authority - Cabinet Government: exercising executive authority - Responsible Government: checking executive authority Parliamentary Sovereignty - Concept of Sovereign: the ultimate authority in the exercise of political power. The institution or actor that has the “final say”. Types of Sovereignty: - Personal Sovereignty: ultimate authority rests in a person (King/Queen) and is passed through hereditary lines. - Popular Sovereignty: ultimate authority rests in “the people” as opposed to a particular actor or institution. - Parliamentary Sovereignty: Ultimate authority rests in a set of institutions governed by constitutional rules (the Parliament). Canadian Parliamentary Sovereignty Institutions of Parliament - Monarch - House of Commons - Senate Practice of Parliamentary Sovereignty - Passage of Law: for any legislation to become law, all three institutions of parliament must approve it. - Changing Law: Parliament may change any law at any time. Qualification: constitutional law requires the approval of federal and provincial levels. Parliamentary V Popular Sovereignty British Parliamentary Sovereignty: - British Conservatism: distrust of decision-making ability of “the people”. (Uneducated, ignorant, non-rational) - Political system needs to have elitist checks on he power of the average citizen (Monarch; Senate; principle of responsible government. American Popular Sovereignty: - Rejection of British Conservatism: distrust of political elites and their ability to abuse their power for narrow self-interest. - Maximize influence of average citizen and prevent elitist concentration of power. Principle #2: Cabinet Government - Question: Who controls executive power and the ability to initiate legislation and administer laws? - Constitutional Theory: Monarch is the head of the executive branch of the cabinet, PM and public service subordinate to King/Queen. - Political Practice: The Monarch is ceremonial figurehead, with the PM/Cabinet controlling the executive branch. This is referred to as the practice of Cabinet government. Rise of Cabinet Government - Cabinets have a long history in the British system of government - Royal Courts or Councils: officials who advise the Monarch. - Responsibility for leading the government was transferred from the Monarch to the Cabinet. - Adopted by Canada at the time of Confederation. Cabinet Exercises the Power of the Crown - While these powers still technically belong to the Crown, it is customary for the Monarch or Governor General to exercise them according to the Cabinet’s wishes. - Submit money bills to Parliament - Summon and dissolve Parliament - Grant Pardons - Appoint key state officials - Sign treaties - Royal Assent (exercised automatically) Principle #3: Responsible Government - While the Canadian constitution does not recognize popular sovereignty, it does provide for democratic participation. Concept of Responsible Government: - The Cabinet is held “responsible” or “accountable” to the people through their elected representatives in the House of Commons British Conservatism: - Check on the power of the average citizen. - Role of average citizen is limited to simply selecting representatives who then hold government accountable. - Very different from US popular sovereignty/Presidential system
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