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Lecture 3

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Political Science
Nelson Wiseman

POL214 – Lecture 3, Sept 28 The Governor General - appointed role – on the recommendation of the PM to the Queen - Harper created a 3 person committee to decide on the new GG instead of Harper doing it solo - The PM selected a new chief of staff Today’s Agenda: 1) Prospects for constitutional amendment 2) formal organization of the Canadian gov’t 3) Governor General 4) Prime Minister 5) Cabinet 6) Central Agencies Constitutional Amending Formulae Why did it take until 82 for Canada to be able to change it’s own constitution 1) Secs 38+42 : 7/50 Rule – we’ve only had one amendment which happened through this - land agreement with aboriginals - Quebec didn’t vote on this own because although it agreed it didn’t want to acknowledge the constitution 2) Sec 41 : Unanimity – We have never had one based on unanimity 3) Sec 44 : Parliament Only 4) Sec 45 : Prov Leg Only – Very loose, not clear 5) Sec 43 : ParL + 1 or More Legs – Has had many of amendments, ex banning ferry service to PEI? – NF decided to do away with funding for religious schools b/c they had to fund for 7 different religions – if Ontario ever got rid of catholic school funding – you can add funding but you can’t take it away without constitutional amendment The constitution is always changing in the small C way (vs the Big C with the formulae) Symbolism and constitution Why are we unlikely to change it? Convention? Referendums to change it Until 1982 – and Meech Lake accord in 1987 – all meetings for constitution didn’t require big meetings Meech Lake Accord – had to go through in three years - newly elected reps said they would open it up and make changes - people thought it was 10 white guys behind closed doors - Didn’t make it through - Many interest groups (aboriginal, women interest groups, etc) involved - BC, Alberta and Quebec wanted to have a referendum before they decided whether they would vote on the charlotetown accord - So there was a national referendum (actually 2) - the charlotte town referendum failed with the exception of two provinces - rejected b/c ppl in quebec thought there wasn’t enough there, and English thought there was to much - also failed because trudeau spoke out against it - out of it came 2 new parties – the bloc and - Political culture in English and French different 1) English like the constitution 2) French see it as a collectivist view and the quality between the English and French vs individualism Public opinion is no more opposed to the constitution than anywhere else in Canada really Formal Organization of Government Figure 8.1 on page 231 Three branches of gov’t (20 century view of gov’t) Legislature – House of Commons and Senate Executive – Monarch, GG, OM, Cabinet, Bureaucracy (Depts, ABCs, Crown Corps – Bank of Canada is a crown corp) Judiciary – Supreme Court and Other Fed Courts Distinction between the state and the gov’t The state – you don’t vote for a state, you vote for a gov’t, the head of state is the queen represented by the GG, the head of the Govt is Harpers Cabinet House of Commons and the Court are part of the government with a small G vs the Big G which is the PM and cabinet Canada is a nation state Gov’t with Big G act in the right of the queen, a gov’t is more personal than the state, gov’t come and go but the state does not. The Monarch The Governor General Referencing Eugene Forcey? – The crown has certain reserve powers: - the crown reserve may refuse the advice of the cabinet and etc, last time this happened was in 1926 (Mackenzie King) – could have happened in 2008 - the gov’t has the ability to refuse the PMs request to diffuse parliament and progue parliament (postpone it) - the GG has the power but they must make sure there is someone else who will have the confidence of the house - Reserved power is reserved for special circumstances Governor General a backstop for democracy PM and Cabinet – responsible to the legislature but they get their authority from the crown, GG, ex between elections parliament has been dissolved but the gov’t continues to work Governor General should not take a political stance or side, although they can They can make statements about things outside of Canada, but not within Two different forms of Executive – GG and Monarch vs the PM and Cabinet The word PM or cabinet do not appear in 1867 constitution The formal executive is the crown and GG – the capital C executive The other (political) executive is the PM and cabinet -> where the real power lies The privy council is whoever is in the cabinet now The political cabinet are at the centre of policy making, In constitutional theory the MPs should have ultimate power however in practice the parliaments agenda is set by the executive Only the gov’t can introduce a bill that requires spending or the taxation The parliament is there to hold the gov’t to account How? In question period, in the speech from the throne, in the budget debate, in the estimates – if you lose a vote on a budgetary matter or a speech from the throne that is a question of confidence a
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