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The legislative.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Political Science
Jennifer Levine

The legislative (chapter 23- pg618) Functions and Powers of the House of Commons  Historically a basic principle of Canadian government was the sovereignty or supremacy of parliament- that is apart from interfering in provincial jurisdiction and with other minor exceptions, parliament could pass laws of any kinds that were virtually beyond review by any organ of government, including the courts  This principle was considerably transformed in 1982 however, with the introduction of the Canadian Charter of rights and freedoms  The courts have now been given power to review both federal and provincial legislation in terms of the charter and to invalidate such legislation to the extent of any contradiction  The principal function of the house of commons(and senate) is to pass laws  The house of commons also does the following: o Through motions of confidence and nonconfidence, it decides who will form the government o It provides that government on behalf of the people with the authority, funds, and other resources necessary for governing the country o By acting as a constant critic and watchdog, it makes the government behave o It provides an alternative government by enabling the opposition to present its case to the public and become a credible choice for replacing the party in power  The housedoes subject bills to extended debate and publicizes their advantages and disadvantags before converting them into laws or statutes Composition of the house of commons  The basic principle in establishing the house of commons is that eachprovince is represented in proportion to its population  There are 308 seats in the commons  Mps in a way are representative of population in a geographical sense  Most MPs used to have law backgrounds, but now there are more mps with a business background than a law one The parliamentary timetable  The house of commons has an agenda The typical session  A session begins with the speech from the throne, prepared by the prime minister(and advisers) and read by the governor general  Its function is to outline the government’s legislative plans for the session  The second major event of the session is the budget and budget debate  The budget itself is the annual financial statement of the government delivered by the minister of finance, chiefly concerned with tax changes and the broad outlines of expenditures for the forthcoming fiscal year  So that no one can take advantage of the tax changes beforehand, the budget is shrouded in secrecy until its delivery  The budget sets the stage for a four-day freewheeling debate and gives the opposition a chance to defeat the government  The third thing that happens is the presentation of the government’s spending proposals for the next fiscal year. These are stored in the Estimates  A fourth element of the session consists of the 22 days when the when the opposition parties choose the subject of debate and the government in turn responds  These are called opposition days  Other than these four components, the house of commons is essentially taken up with the discussion of bills, and most of that time with bills introduced by the government  When the government wants to take a break within a session, it “adjourns” the house, when it wants to bring a session to an end, it “prorogues” th
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