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Lec 3: Machinery of Government point form

2 Pages

Political Science
Course Code
Victoria Wohl

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Prospects for constitutional amendment
Formal organization of Canadian government
Governor general
Prime minister
Central agencies
The reason it took till 1982 for Canadians to make up their minds to change the constitution
without having to go to the British government is because they couldn't get a consensus on how
to amend the constitution.
Referenda are now an option for const change. It is moving toward being a convention to
amend the constitution.
The pop of quebec does not believe the const to be all that legitimate because they never
signed it. but they do believe in the charter of rights and they think its a great idea but the
cons still does not have the legitimacy it has in other provinces.
The const is constantly changing sinc e1867 to 1982 etc. Mega const. Change is falling.
He is showing the constitutional amending formulae.
You do not vote for the state -the head of the state is the queen, she is the rep of the state.
The head of gov is the PM.
The opposition is there in theory. If for some reason the gov falls or is defeated then there is
someone there to pick up the pieces.
The executive is the PM and the cabinet. The words that appear in the const as the formal
executive are the privy council, the queen and the Governor General. These are the big "C".
In cosnt the MPs should be the most important actors in politics. but theory is diff from
Only the gov can introduce the bill that talks about taxation or budget.
The PM's powers:
Appoint, dismiss, shuffle cabinet
Set election date
Determine administrative structures and decision -making processes; he can decide whether
certain sectors of government can or should exist -he can abolish the minister of natural
resources or something like that
When parliament meets, prorogues, dissolves
Determines cabinet's agenda
Patronage power
Power of the press; if he wants to go on national tv, the press will not turn him down because
he is the prime minister of the country. He gets the attention of the media. This is very
Control of gov party; he is the leader of the party in charge in the house of commons so he
controls what happens. If he has the majority of seats then he is even more powerful.
In a minority gov situation you can control the PM. Cabinet revolt -theoretical situation not
likely to happen because he nominates them.
The courts can act as checks on the PM.
Independently responsible and collectively responsible for government policy. Conventions gev
how cabinet operates -solidarity and secrecy. They support each other and they do not tlak
about what is said in cabinet. It used to be an ad hoc committee. There were conventions as to
who should be in the cabinet. Like anglo and franco and catholics and protestants, lawyers and
politcal scientists, ppl from diff provinces. Are they conventions or are they customs? Until
1960s the cabinet was whatever the PM wanted it to be.
Formal organization of Canadian government
Lec 3: machinery of government
2:22 PM
POL214 Page 1

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Lec3: machinery of government September-28-10 2:22 PM 1. Prospectsforconstitutionalamendment 2. FormalorganizationofCanadiangovernment 3. Governorgeneral 4. Primeminister 5. Cabinet 6. Centralagencies 1. Heisshowingtheconstitutionalamendingformulae. a. Thereasonittooktill1982 forCanadiansto makeup theirmindstochangetheconstitution withouthavingtogoto theBritishgovernmentisbecausetheycouldntgetaconsensuson how toamendtheconstitution. b. Theconstisconstantlychangingsince1867 to 1982 etc. Megaconst.Changeisfalling. i. Whyarewemost unlikelytochangetheamendingformoftheconst?Althoughthe amendingformissimple,itisveryhardtogetthenecessarysupportaccordingtothe amendingformulae. ii. Referendaarenowanoptionforconstchange.Itismovingtowardbeingaconventionto amendtheconstitution. iii. Thepopofquebecdoesnotbelievetheconsttobeallthatlegitimatebecausetheynever signedit.buttheydobelieveinthecharterofrightsandtheythinkitsagreatideabutthe consstilldoesnothavethelegitimacyithasinotherprovinces. 2. FormalorganizationofCanadiangovernment Youdo notvoteforthestate - theheadof thestateis thequeen,sheistherepofthe state. Theheadofgov isthePM. Theoppositionisthereintheory.Ifforsomereasonthegovfallsorisdefeatedthenthereis someonetheretopickupthepieces. TheexecutiveisthePMandthecabinet.Thewordsthat appearintheconst as theformal executivearetheprivycouncil,thequeenandtheGovernorGeneral.ThesearethebigC. IncosnttheMPs shouldbethemostimportantactors inpo
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