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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 2300
Tamara Small

POLS 2300: Canadian Government and Politics Week 11 – Elections Key Definitions - Representative Democracy: a form of democracy in which citizens select others to act on their behalf, don’t affect the political process directly - Elections: “mechanism by which the expressed preferences of citizens are aggregated into a decisions regarding who will govern”, a tool by which we do something, expressed preferences by the citizens Functions of Elections - Installation of officials o It gives us people, fills offices o Allows for peaceful political election o They allow for stability - Legitimation o Approval, respect, the idea that you have a broad base of support o Political systems get their legitimacy through elections - Accountability o Elections provide a retrospective government, look back and see if the government did a good or bad job - Selection and choice o Need more than one person o Would I be better off with different parties? - Popular involvement o Few opportunities for people to get involved o Single best way o Socialization Elections & Democracy - You can’t have democracy unless you have elections - Competitive o More than 1 political party, more than 1 candidate that votes can choose from, expressed preferences o Must have same access to the media o Freedom of movement – opposition leaders don’t live in the country of involvement o Should be able to criticize the government openly - Periodic o Do not elect governors for life o Elected officials are accountable to the people for a certain period of time o Need to go back to the people on period basis to revisits issues o Fixed mandates – in the states 2 terms and than you are done o In Canada the PM’s must always go back to the citizens - Inclusive o The definition of who is a citizen and who is a voter must be a large enough percentage of the population - Definitive o We all accept them as the results of the election o When someone wins we have to be able to hold them to their power they aren’t just a figure head o They have to be able to access and exercise power they have been given Calling an Election - The PM recommends to the GG when an election is to be called: o The Canadian Constitution requires an election within 5 years, no party can last for more than 5 years THEREFORE an election must be held, most governments do not stay past 4 years o When the government party losses the confidence of a majority in the H of C, the PM will ask the GG to dissolve Parliament and call and election o The PM can also ask the GG to call an election at a time that PM chooses - The GG – PM (Convention) - Fixed Dates (May 2006) o The second Tuesday in October every 4 years from the last election will be a new election, not in the constitution, just a statute o Ontario has fixed date laws, Alberta does not – depends o Predictability which is good, time to plan o Reduces the power of the governing party to control its members, reduces party discipline o Neg: inconsistent with responsible government – a government that is not working should be able to be brought down by the house, expensive, can put more power in the hands of the government because they can do whatever they want for 4 years and we cant do anything about it - Did Harper break the law in 2008? o Harper was the one that passed the fixed dates legislation, but he called an election early o General answer – NO o 56.1 (1) Nothing in this section affects the powers of the GG, including the power to dissolve Parliament at the GG’s discretion o In the end we don’t have fixed dates, yes they are in the books, but cant change the prerogative power of the GG fixed dates don’t really exist Participants - Candidates o A minimum of 100 eligible electors must sign the nomination papers (50 in remote areas) o An official agent and auditor must be appointed o A deposit of $1000 must be paid o Candidates are supposed to be the most important part when making a decision but political parties are - Registered Political Parties o 250 eligible voters must support the parties application o The party must run at least 1 candidate in each general election o The party must have a leader, three officers, an auditor and chief agent – appropriate financial officials o Only parties registered with Elections Canada can have their name on the ballot Party Financing - Money needed for: o Research o Staff o Election Campaigning - Election Expenses Act, 1974 (prior to this they could spend whatever they wanted) o Spending limits  Both candidates and parties are only allowed to spend certain amounts of money during elections campaigns  Equality  Majority of their spending goes to TV/Radio Ads o Tax credit  We as tax payers pay for political parties  If I give 100 to a political party the state gives me back 75  State pays for political parties basically - C-24 (2004) o Political donations - $1000 limit for corporations, unions and organizations o Public financing - $1.75 per vote if they receive at least 2% of all votes cast nationally or 5% in electoral districts in which it has candidates - Federal Accountability Act, 2006 o Ban on contributions by corporations, unions, and organizations o Lowering contributions limits by individuals Party Financing - Egalitarian model of party financing o Level the playing field between all of our political actors o Equity in contribution o Elections should be relatively accessible and relatively affordable o If you have the money and you can do it go ahead Conservative Government - Economic Statement, 2008 o Political parties now receive taxpayer support in 3 ways:  1) tax credit for contributions to political parties  2) The reimbursement of eligible election expenses  3) a Quarterly subsidy based on cotes cast o In keeping with the focus on spending management, the quarterly subsidy that benefits political parties no longer justifiable. The government will
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