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6POLI 101- October 3.docx

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Political Science
POLI 101
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RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT October 3, 2011 Review: 5 Conventions of Responsible Government - The following are the 5 core elements that alter the formal altercation of power and parliamentary practice, creating Responsible Government (1) Ministers are MPs - They need to be present in parliament to answer questions, and take responsibility for decision (2) Confidence - Votes of confidence are ways of measuring if a government has the confidence of the house (3) Advice - Advice from the Cabinet, is in fact a command for the Crown (4) Cabinet Solidarity - While discussion and differentiation can take place behind closed doors, once a decision is made, the Cabinet stands as one (5) Non-Confidence - Governments fall through votes of non-confidence - These votes are more common in minority situations (not in majority as parties are usually able to secure the votes of its MPs through party discipline (which is very strong in Canada Refined Definition of Responsible Government - A regime in which legislative and executive power are fused together in a cabinet which is accountable to an assembly of the people’s elected representatives - Laws stem from the Executive, which then proposes the legislation to the house - Generally the house, or individual MPs do not act as an independent agent in proposing legislation - Daily government accountability is present in the daily exercise of political theatre - EG. Question period - The potential to lose a vote is present every day, which causes governments to act in an accountable/responsible manner, or risk losing the confidence of the House Pros of Responsible Government (1) More immediate accountability - There exists an ever-present threat that the government could fall - There are often crises whether or not the government will be able to stay in power - Power of the house can be exercised immediately - The way the political institution is set up illustrates the logic behind question period: - This is meant to nurture the confidence of the legislature of Canada - Leader must show his ability to command/control the house and answer to the MPs - If he were to refuse to answer questions, the public and other MPs would begin to lose confidence in his ability to lead (2) Flexible (things can change) - Conventions are always changing and evolving according to the political climate - EG. Reelection Law- Until 1982, the length of time a government could stay in power was only defined by convention, however now there is a 5-year maximum - These kinds of changes are not possible for governments with a more strict set of rules - EG. During WWII, an election was due to be called according to convention, however Churchill decided that the war effort was more important, and therefore postponed it (3) Energetic government: - Election of a majority government allows for efficient, and swift decision making - Also allows the party in power to implement its legislative agenda/platform as planned, and make good the promises made to its supporters - EG. Comparison to the Division of Power system in the US: Despite a large amount of support for the presidential candidate, the division of powers into two parts constantly checks the power of the two legislative bodies: making legislation more difficult to pass Cons of Responsible Government (1) Indirect accountability - Accountability is often indirectly exacted through un institutionalized groups, such as political parties - EG. The Liberal and NDP kept minority Conservative government in power, as an election at that time would not have been in their best interest - Conflicting agendas of those in charge of keeping a government accountable (2) instability - If rules/laws are not spelled out explicitly in legislature, rules can be bent to serve individual/party agendas/interests - EG. Conservative Minority government and the prorogation debate - In minorities, governments fall more often, resulting in more elections, and less stability - EG. When a budget isn’t passed immediately, and there is instead a vote of non-confidence leading to an election, there are often significant economic consequences resulting from the delay in the political process (3) Energetic government - Majority governments, while effective, are often free to do as they wish g - Often majority governments don’t reflect the actual percentage of the vote they received, and therefore their actions can be counter to what the majority of the population wants - Electoral system magnifies election results (make
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