Canadian Politics Lecture Three:
Canada’s Constitutional Tradition
The Discussion of Power
• Power is real and tangible and happens all the time. This is the definition
given by Max Weber. People will listen to what you say, because you have
power. There are many different types of power:
1. Coercion: power achieved by the threat of negative consequences
(violent threats, bribery, etc.). It is power based on force. An
example of this is the police.
2. Authority: is power achieved by getting people to believe that it is
right to do what you command. It is power based on legitimacy. A
political general showing respect to the political leader is a good
example of this. Authority is much more successful than coercion.
In reality it is a bit of both – Authority backed by coercion.
• The State is a human community that successfully claims a monopoly on
the legitimate use of force within a given territory. A government is the set
of organizations within the state that make the decisions. Politics is the
practice of attempting to influence decisions.
What is a Constitution
• A set of rules – laws or conventions – according to which a government is
structured. Laws are codified rules that are enforceable in a court of law.