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16 Feb 2011
Organizing Canadians, Canadians Organize
Review & Introduction
The context of one affects the politics of the other
Politics is the activity in which conflicting interests struggle for the interest and dominance of
making and executing public policy
Power (state) vs. Influence (group) a central term to political science; for our purposes power
is the ability of one actor or a group of actors to impose its will upon another group. This is done
through the possession of making binding decisions (the power to make said decisions).
oDecision making power is THE central concept in political power
oThis power is given through political institutions; the state. A decision of power, the state
has the ability to impose its will upon others via coercion. In a democratic state, the state
itself is a collection of consensus of the People. The states decisions are our decisions.
oThis political power of the State is influenced in particular directions (some interests are
reflected where others are ignored); this has to do with influence
oInfluence is the act of getting the state to perform certain actions
Legitimacy is a status conferred on those who have political powers to make decisions because the
process is recognized by the people and outcomes are consented too by the people
oTo have such power is to have consent to exercise the power
oWe recognize the legitimacy of the decision of the state
oWe agree to be bound by the decisions they make
Democracy in very simple terms is popular sovereignty; it is a system of governance based on
people governing themselves
oContains political equality and freedom
oAt the very least it contains majority rule or consensus
Public policy (outputs) A course of action or inaction chosen by public authorities to address a
given problem or interrelated set of problems; three key elements:
oDefinition of the problem
oGoals to be achieved
oThe instruments or means choses to address the problem and achieve the goal
Policymaking Process (inputs) is the multi-staged process through which demands on the
government to resolve a problem are addressed and solved through the development of politics
oIn Canada, political institutions have different roles and powers in this process, which is
affected by and determined through the constitution and the practice of federalism
oThe process:
Initiation (PM, Cabinet, Central Agencies) What is the issue at hand?
Priority Setting (PM, Cabinet, Central Agencies) Is the policy important
enough to pursue? Who does it affect? How much resource to allocate?
Formulation (Bureaucracy) Technical details; creating rules
Legitimation (House of Commons, Senate) Would the representatives agree to
this policy; MPs here represent the voice of their people and go for what is best
for them
Implementation (Bureaucracy) Programs are developed and implemented;
target groups
Interpretation (Judiciary) The application and Constitutionality of the policy
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