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POLS 3470 (45)
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pols 3470 week 7.doc

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University of Guelph
Political Science
POLS 3470
Tim Mau

Week 7 notes STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT – KEY ELEMENTS • CONSTITUTIONAL MONARCHY WITH PARLIAMENTARY FORM OF GOVERNMENT o Based on Westminster • FEDERAL SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT – POWERS DIVIDED • 3 BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT o EXECUTIVE – PM, CABINET & BUREAUCRACY o LEGISLATIVE – HOUSE AND SENATE o JUDICIAL – SUPREME AND FEDERAL COURTS • REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT o Elect representatives • RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT o Cabinet sits in and responsible to legislative assembly o Has to maintain confidence of house of commons to maintain government • FIRST-PAST-THE-POST ELECTORAL SYSTEM o Skews of electoral outcomes • EXECUTIVE DOMINANCE – POWER OF THE PM • KEY PLAYERS – PMO (prime ministers office), PCO (privy council office), TBS, FINANCE DEVELOPMENT OF GOVERNMENT POLICY • PUBLIC POLICY – “ANYTHING GOVERNMENT CHOOSES TO DO OR NOT TO DO” (THOMAS DYE) o simplicity • STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES OF DEFINITION o No distinction between government action or inaction o Importance/significance of action not taken into account o Public policy is a government activity o If government chooses to adopt action form interest group then it becomes public policy o Have to be deliberate action to not do something o Policy making is a process o A choice by government o Usually not a single decision, it’s a serious of choices/decisions o States sometimes constrained in what decisions they can make ie. Lack of resources • POLICY CYCLE o AGENDA SETTING o POLICY FORMULATION o DECISION MAKING Week 7 notes o POLICY IMPLEMENTATION o POLICY EVALUATION POLICY CYCLE • AGENDA SETTING  DEFINITION OF PROBLEMS • Identify need and want government to take action • Must capture governments attention to prioritize issue • How problems are defined is key • Definition of problem: ‘What is and what should be’ • Has to be understanding of goal  GOVERNMENT ‘AGENDA’ • Which issues make it • List of issues/problems • Cant deal with all, some receive more attention and resources than others • Some issues are always on the agenda because of the economy ie. Quebec, relationship with US, social issues – healthcare and education  POLICY WINDOWS • Present opportunities for policy entrepreneurs to promote issue and present to government • Ie. Throne speech, cabinet shuffle • Depends on chance and skill  POLICY ENTREPRENEURS • POLICY FORMULATION  DEFINITION OF PROBLEMS WILL SHAPE POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS  DIFFICULTY FINDING CAUSE OF PROBLEMS  POLICY COMMUNITY • SUBGOVERNMENT & ATTENTIVE PUBLIC  POLICY NETWORK POLICY CYCLE • DECISION-MAKING  MORE EXCLUSIVE PROCESS – FEWER PLAYERS Week 7 notes • State ultimately makes the decision – choose to do or not to do something (non-action is also like a public policy)  NO SCIENCE OF DECISION-MAKING – A POLITICAL EXERCISE • Public policy is inherently political • Winners and losers as a result of this process • May still be lobbying at this step but the only power they have is voice (they don’t have a vote – it is up to the state)  NON-ACTION • PROBLEM-RELATED RATIONALES o No problem actually exists, not worthy of consideration o May also be a question of jurisdiction • RESOURCE-RELATED RATIONALES o There is a problem, but existing resource constraints or other demands mean the state won’t take action • PRECEDENT-RELATED RATIONALES o There is a problem, but concern is that if they do take action it will set a dangerous precedent for the state o Ex. Compensation of groups in society that received wrong-doing from previous governments – Japanese people from after the war, tainted blood scandal • SELF-CORRECTIVE SYSTEM RATIONALES o Problem recognized but assumption made that there are other systems (social, religious, economic, etc.) in place that will serve to correct it over time without state action o Ex. Welfare – church and community used to take care of the poor, deregulation of the energy sector to decrease hydro rates (letting the market figure things out, competition to kick in and stabilize rates)  RATIONAL MODEL • IDENTIFY PROBLEM & GOALS • GATHER RELEVANT INFORMATION • EVALUATE COSTS & BENEFITS • CHOOSE SOLUTION WITH MAXIMAL OUTCOME o Assumption that maximal outcome could be achieved through the gathering of information • Some weaknesses… Week 7 notes o “Gathering relevant information” – sometimes you don’t always have the relevant information at your disposal o Trying to weigh costs and benefits – you don’t necessarily know what they will be, you work off assumptions – “forecasting” o Efficient or inefficient depending on outside circumstances  INCREMENTAL MODEL • Sudden or minor small changes • Analysis plays a smaller role in determining outcomes than the process of bargaining and other processes of interaction between key players • Look at the past to determine the future • Decisions made also reflect what is considered to be feasible than what is desirable or possible over maximal • Minimal or incremental in nature as they build upon what already exists • Why would this be a preferential approach? o Current policies do have their supporters – changing them is venturing into the unknown. You face a great uncertainty o Easier to continue on with the distribution of scarce resources rather than to strike some radically different way • Criticisms: o Assumes decision making is done without real goal in mind o Conservatism – doesn’t allow for any radical or revolutionary change to occur – you would expect this more when there is a big shift ideologically in gov’t – ex. From the NDP provincial gov’t to the Conservatives in the 90s – welfare payments slashed by 30% o Public choice views policy making process as a
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