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Lecture 02 Notes

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Political Science
Chris Gibbs

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). o Decision making power is THE central concept in political power o This 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. o This political power of the State is influenced in particular directions (some interests are reflected where others are ignored); this has to do with influence o Influence 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 o To have such power is to have consent to exercise the power o We recognize the legitimacy of the decision of the state o We 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 o Contains political equality and freedom o At 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: o Definition of the problem o Goals to be achieved o The 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 o In 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 o The 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 itself
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