POL111H5 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Mark Warawa, Abortion-Rights Movements, Aisle

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20 Jul 2016
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Pol111: Lecture 8: Democratic Government
Overview
-Our House of Commons is physically set up the same way as the British House of Commons,
with rows of members facing each other across the aisle
-The government MPs sit on the Speaker’s right hand side; the opposition members, on his/her
left
-The largest opposition caucus sits directly across from the PM who is surrounded by his/her
ministers
-The speaker occupies the elevated chair at one end. He/She is the MP elected by all other MPs.
Election
-Election carried out at the beginning of parliament.
-Used to be an open vote, everyone could see how MPS voted.
-Since 1986 the election Is by secret ballot. Party leaders can no longer monitor how their MPS
vote for speaker.
Caucus: All MP’s belonging to one party.
Speaker
-Occupies elevated chair at one end
-Speaker presides over meetings of the House and acts as a referee in debates.
-Speaker is expected to be impartial despite the fact they were elected as a partisan MP.
-Cannot favor one party over the other
-Most of them have actually been impartial.
-Can add words prohibited words and terms to the list
Ritual
-The newly elected speaker is dragged to the speaker’s chair by the leader of the prime minister
and leader of the opposition party.
Comparing Canada and the British
-Our MPS get his/her own seat and desk, in Britain they sit on benches because there isn’t
enough space for everyone.
-It always looks full even when it isn’t, for debates when nearly everyone is there it is crowded.
-Canada’s House often looks empty because of all the space required to make room for desks.
-These factors make the British House seem more relevant than Canada’s.
Civility in the House
-Debate happens under strict rules to keep the house civil
-The speaker is referee of these rules
-Members address other members through the speaker not directly
-They refer to their colleagues in third person
-Long list of of abusive words and terms members are not allowed to use, new words can be
added
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Party Discipline
Party Discipline: Propensity for members belonging to the same party, to always vote as leader
orders regardless of personal opinions.
-Exists in varying degrees in every parliamentary system based on the British model
-Responsible government presumes the existence of disciplined parties to work
-Party leaders rely on their members to vote as they are told
-If MPS did not vote as told governments would not be able to stay in office and responsible
government would be unstable
-Party discipline dominates
-Exists at a stronger level in Canada than other parliamentary democracies
Why is Party Discipline so Strong?
-Financial and Organizational Support: Candidates cannot afford to to finance and run their own
campaigns without professional and financial assistance. Parties provide their candidates with
the money and organizational support they need to get elected. So when they are elected they
are beholden to their party.
-Ideology: People join a party because they support its central ideas. They see issues in the
same way as their colleagues.
Democratic Government Continued: Lecture 8
Party Discipline
-Responsible government presumes he existence of disciplines parties to work
-Governments stay in power as long as they have the confidence of the house
-Party leaders rely on their members to vote as they are told
-If they didn’t they wouldn’t be able to stay in office and responsible government wouldn’t
work
-The result us a political system where party discipline is the dominant factor
-Party discipline: Propensity for members belonging to the same party to always vote as their
leader orders in the house regardless of personal opinions
-Party discipline exists to different degrees in every parliamentary system based on the British
model
-Exists to a stronger degree in Canada than other parliamentary democracies
Why is Party Discipline so Strong?
-Financial and Organizational Support: Individual candidates cannot afford to finance and run
their own campaigns without professional and financial assistance. Parties supply their
candidates with money and organizational support they need to get elected. So when elected
they are beholden to their party for their election.
- People join a particular party because they support the general ideology of that party. Tend to
see issues in the same way as colleagues.
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