Lecture 1 1/10/2013 7:23:00 PM
State - crown
Country‟s power to rule itself
You have power over the land and those people. The
government of Canada can make you do things (pay
taxes, stop at red lights)
Refers to the authority and the ___ of the state. It can
receive obedience by a population. Refers to a state
Authority is sought that the state has the right to make
the decisions, it is reasonable. Legitimacy, citizens think
that the state has that right as well.
Government: our government is no elected by the people. The legislature is
elected by the people. Only the people from Calgary west voted for Stephen
harper. We have representative democracy not direct democracy.
Governments act in the name of the state
Government – “to steer”
Organization of people for the resolution of dispute/conflict
Analogy: car and driver. Car is the state, Stephen harper is the
driver. The car that is the state is the same. You act on behaf of the
State that was enacted in 1867 is the same as it is today, except
the „driver‟ has changed.
Harold Lasswell: “who gets what, when and how”
David Easton: “politics is the authoritative allocation of values- values
meaning not moral ideas but those things in life that people desire”
Is about trying to get us to decide how we deal with making
State institutions – institutions that are related to the constitution
Parliament – made up of house, senate, crown
Political Institutions – structure democratic expression within
states; closely related to citizen behaviours
The media (sometimes)
Ipsos Reid, 2008
Canadians are split on whether the prime minister is directly or
indirectly elected by the people of Canada. One half (51%) believes
he is directly elected, while the other half (49%) believes he is not.
o He is not actually
Four in ten (42%) believe that the prime minister is Canada‟s head
of state, and no one in three (33%) think this title belongs to the
o Stephen harper isn‟t the head of state
o Neither is the governor general
o Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state
Four in ten (41%) Canadians were unable to correctly identify
Canada as a „constitutional monarchy‟.
o Canada is a constitutional monarchy
The Constitution & Constitutional Change
What is the Constitution?
Fundamental rules by which a country is governed.
Supreme law, binds the scope of the state. o Takes precedence over other laws. It‟s the most important
laws. All other laws have to be consistent with this laws.
Tells us what we value, who we are, what we think is important.
Can be written and unwritten.
o written can be in one document or several documents
o unwritten – statues, norms, values
the uk has an unwritten constitution. Very little is written down.
Canada like the USA has a mostly written constitution.
Three key relationships
o 1. Branches of government
tells us about the parliament, what are the institutions
of the parliament. What are the relationships between
o 2. Levels of government (division of power)
how these levels work.
Tells us about the divisions of powers and the
responsibilities within these governments.
E.g. federal government
3. State and the people
The limits of governmental power between the citizens
and the states. The things the governments must do
towards the citizens and what they cannot do.
Rule of law – the principle that individuals should be subject only to know,
predictable, and impartial rules, rather than to the arbitrary orders of those
in governing positions.
Nobody is above the constitution
Governments cannot be arbitrary.
Constitutionalism – the belief that the governments will defer to the rules
and principles enshrined in a constitution and uphold the rule of law
The idea that according to the supreme court, all government action
should comply with the constitution.
What‟s in the constitution
o Charter of rights and freedom
o BNA o Pieces of legislation that are not written in the constitution
that has constitutional status in Canada
Primacy of the Constitution
The constitution of Canada is the supreme law of Canada, and any
law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution is, to
the extent COPY FROM SLIDES
The Canadian Constitution
Entrenched – it‟s not going anywhere, it‟s really hard to change
because you need to have an amending formula. It has a high
threshold for change.
o Constitution act, 1867 (formerly the BNA)
o Constitution act, 1982
o Charter of rights and freedoms
Ordinary laws all they need is 51% in the house of
common but entrenched constitution is not like that.
They have very strict rules for changing. They have to
have an amending formula and they have priority over
o Organic statues (acts of a constitutional nature)
Pieces of legislation, that are so important because they
define really important things about our political
system. E.g. Canadian elections act, the supreme court
act, the bill of rights, the clarity act, the constitutional
o Orders – in- counsel
Decisions of the cabinets
All of the provinces that came in after confederation
except for newfoundland came in without a vote.
Do not take precedence over other laws, but they
are super important. Anyone can change them.
o Traditions + customs
Conventions Widely accepted informal constitutional rules
o Not legally enforceable by the courts
o Based upon accepted practice and reason
o Rules that we all believe in
All of the authority of the Canadian prime minister does
not come from a Canadian document, it comes from
political practice. Nothing in the constitution that says
that we have a prime minister, we have a convention
that says the leader or the largest party after an
election becomes the prime minister