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POLI 101- October 17.docx

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University of British Columbia
Political Science
POLI 101

PARLIAMENT Friday, October 14, 2011 Limits of Prime Minister Power (continued) - Officers of Parliament - EG. Elections Officer, Auditor General, Budget Officer, Ethics Officer - Each has different duties and plays different roles - Third party representation (unbiased, non-partisan) paid by the government - Officers hold the government to account - EG. Sponsorship scandal- involved the Liberal party paying liberal owned media company large amount of money for little to no work in Quebec - Liberals wanted to boost national spirit after separatist movement - Dishonesty uncovered by the Auditor General when going through government accounts Representation - Constituencies abide largely by „rep by pop‟ (representation by population) - Approximately 108 000 voters are represented by one MP - Some constituencies are over-represented (such as PEI with 44 000), others are under- represented (such as the Sunshine Coast, with approximately 144 000 per MP) - Equal representation is important, as voters should have an equal ability to contact, seek help from, and be represented by their MP (member of parliament) - There are two clauses/laws that currently limit the PM (prime minister) from fully achieving equal representation - Senatorial Floor clause (1915) - Promises each province that their number of seats in parliament will never drop below their number of seats in the Senate - EG. While PEI should technically have just over one seat according to their population, they in fact have 4 as they have 4 in the Senate - Grandfather Clause (1985) - Promises each province that their number of seats in the HOC (House of Commons) would never drop below the number had in 1985 - Mulroney established this clause in order to satisfy smaller provinces - Currently Harper wants to increase the number of seats in the HOC by 30 - Desire for more equal representation in regions that are growing rapidly (Such as Vancouver, and regions around Calgary and Ontario) - This upset Quebec because with their stagnant growth, these additional seats would dilute their presence in parliament Passage of Legislation - Foremost business of Parliament is the adoption of bills - Two different types of bills (1) Private member’s bills - Private members‟ bills can be put forward by all MPs that are not a secretary or minister or the speaker of the house (about 250) - There is a draw to determine the order in which member‟s bills are presented - Determines an MP‟s ability to introduce an individual members‟ bill - Private Member‟s bills allow MPs to address small issues not involving the spending of public (or government money) such as tweaking existing laws, or bring a specific area under protection (such as a park) - There is time set aside each day for Private Member‟s bills - EG. A Private member‟s bill was introduced suggesting that individuals cannot be prevented from flying the Canadian flag - Bill arose from the complaints from and MP‟s constituents that they were not allowed to fly Canadian flags from their Condo (In downtown Toronto) (2) Government Bills - Brought to the House by a Minister - Will have been previously discussed by Cabinet Parliamentary Calendar - Throne Speech opens Parliament after an election (and begins the “session”) - Delivered by the GG (Governor General) in the Senate in front of both Senators and MPs - Introduces the government‟s legislative program for the session - The speech is debated by the HOC - Important Term: Prorogation - Like a „pause button‟ for government - HOC stops sitting until the PM calls them back - Typically and commonly used in order to give the government the opportunity to readjust their legislative program - EG. Chrétien prorogued Parliament just prior to stepping down, in order to allow the new Liberal leader, Martin to get up to speed regarding government process - Not the fact that Harper used prorogation, but the WAY he used it, that raised issues - In 2006 Harper introduced a bill that would fix election dates - This would prevent parties in power from timing election to their own advantage - This bill passed in 2007, yet Harper called an election in 2008, why? - Bill preserves the crown‟s executive power to call an election - According to this law, our next election will be in October 2015 Legislative Procedure (1) First Reading - Introduces a piece of legislation to the House - Describes the Minister/MP‟s inspiration for the bill - There is no vote after this stage, the legislation automatically passed to the second reading (2) Second Reading - The bill is reintroduced - The House debate and examines the legislation in more detail - The HOC votes on whether or not to endorse the basic purpose of the bill - If it passed, the bill goes to the report stage - Report Stage: A committee examines the legislation in more detail, suggests amendments, looks for loopholes, etc. (3) Third Reading - The final version and reading of the bill in the HOC - There is a final debate and vote - Often Private members introduce numerous bills in order to show their constituents that they are working on their behalf - Often these don‟t reach a second reading Procedure - A bill can be first introduced in the Senate or the House of Commons, but regardless must pass all three readings in both houses in order to be made in law - After this, the GG gives her „royal assent‟ as the bill is „proc
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