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Lecture 8

Lecture 8 - The Canadian Parliament System I

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University of Ottawa
Political Science
Luc Turgeon

Feb. 5, 2014 The Canadian Parliamentary System I Key terms • Westminster model • Responsible government • The Crown • Ministerial responsibility • Individual ministerial responsibility Reminder: Difference between Parliamentary and Presidential Systems • Parliamentary System: • Asystem of governing in which there is a close interrelationship between the political executive (prime minister and cabinet) and Parliament (the legislative or law-making body). The executive is generally composed of members of the House of Commons (the elected body) and must maintain the support of the House of Common. o The ministers in the Cabinet are also members of Parliament • Presidential System • Asystem of governing in which the president and Congress each separately derive their authority from being elected by the people and have a fixed term in office. The president is both the head of government and the head of state. o People vote directly for the president o Members of Congress are not also members of the Senate Westminster Parliamentary System • Definitions:  The model of government developed in Britain in which the political executive is given extensive power to provide effective leadership (Dyck)  Aparliamentary system in which administrative and legislative responsibility are fused. The political executive (the cabinet) sits in, and typically leads the majority party in the House of Commons (Stein) • Also called “majoritarian system”  Because of the fact that it tends to be dominated by majority governments  Different as such from “consensual democracy” o Minority government – Liberal Party (early 1960s - Pearson) o 2006-2011 Conservative Party didn’t have a majority of seats • Strengths and weaknesses? o Easier to adopt controversial policies (less gridlock) o Much harder for smaller parties to be represented Key Principle of Governance: Responsible Government • Definition:Aform of government in which the political executive must retain the confidence of the elected legislature must resign or call an election when it is defeated on a vote on non-confidence. o Maintain confidence in the House of Commons • Historically an important fight in Canada  Because the Crown did not require the support of the legislature to govern • Two dimensions to responsible government  Enable  Constrain • Responsible for party discipline o Mechanism that political parties use to make sure that their members function as a cohesive group o The time of voting – all members of the party vote as a block o Makes sure they
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