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POLS 2300 (142)

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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 2300
Tamara Small

POLS 2300: Canadian Government and Politics Week 1: The Constitution and Constitutional Change Constitution - The fundamental rules by which a country is governed - Fundamental because they are necessary, they are harder to change - The constitution includes the supreme law, which means it takes precedence over all other laws - The constitution tell us what we value - Three key relationships: 1. Branches of government 2. Levels of government (division of power) 3. State and the people - The charter of rights and freedom tells you the things that the government cannot do, but also what the government has to do Constitutional Principles - Rule of law: the principle that individuals should be subject only to known, predictable, and impartial rules, rather than to the arbitrary orders of those in governing positions - Constitutionalism: the belief that governments will defer to the rules and principles enshrined in a constitution and uphold the rule of law - in the constitution (written and unwritten components) (charter of rights and freedoms) The Canadian Constitution - Entrenched (written that can only be changed through gratification, very hard to change, have to use the amending formulas to change it) - Constitution Act, 1867 (formerly BNA act) - Constitution Act, 1982 - Charter of Rights and Freedoms - Nonentrenched - Organic statutes (acts of a constitutional nature) (can be changed by votes in HofC) - Orders in council (British and federal cabinet, related to how most of the provinces became a part of Canada) - Judicial decisions - Conventions (based on tradition, PM) Conventions - Widely accepted informal constitutional rules - not legally enforceable by the courts - examples (the idea that the leader of the largest party become the PM, the senate never uses its power, responsible government) Judicial Decisions - Judicial Review: the authority of the courts to invalidate laws passed by parliament or provincial legislatures that they deem to be in violation of the Constitution - Judicial committee of the Privy Council - Supreme Court of Canada Constitution Act, 1867 - Formally BNA act - Whereas the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick have expressed their Desire to be federally united into One Dominion under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, with a Constitution similar in Principle to that of the United Kingdom - Federalism, we get from the US not from Britain - 3 colonies went into the act, 4 came out - Only outlines two relationships: relationship between the branches, federalism - Leaves out the relationship between the state and the people and the rights of citizens Missing from the BNA, 1867 - Mention of the role of Quebec - Aboriginals, only talks about them when it says the aboriginals are the responsibility of the federal government - Popular sovereignty - Rights, bill of rights exist we just decided not to put it in - Independence – it didn’t make Canada independent, statue passed by the British parliament Patriation (bring home the constitution) - BNA Act, 1867 – unpatriated - Federal systems require amending formulas - Patriation failures - 1964 – Fulton-Favreau Formula – everyone got together to make a formula to change the constitution, Quebec decided they didn’t like the formula and withdrew their support, the formula dies - 1971 – Victoria Charter – included some language rights, equalization, requirement for federal and provincial conferences, and an amending formula, Quebec withdrew their support again, the charter dies - Unilateral patriation – Federal government by themselves will patriate the constitution, the provinces will not be involved, includes Charter of Right and Freedoms and some previsions for equalization - Patriation Reference 1981 – The most political Supreme Court decisions in Canadian history - Was
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