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Poli Sci Tutorial 1 questions w/ answers

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Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Nigmendra Narain

Poli Sci Tut 1 questions: 1+2) We cannot work or eat or drink; we cannot buy or sell or own anything; we cannot go to a ball game or a hockey game or watch TV without feeling the effects of government. We cannot marry or educate our children, cannot be sick, born or buried without the hand of government somewhere intervening. Government gives us railways, roads and airlines; sets the conditions that affect farms and industries; manages or mismanages the life and growth of the cities. Government is held responsible for social problems, and for pollution and sick environments. Government is our creature. We make it, we are ultimately responsible for it, and, taking the broad view, in Canada we have considerable reason to be proud of it. Pride, however, like patriotism, can never be a static thing; there are always new problems posing new challenges. The closer we are to government, and the more we know about it, the more we can do to help meet these challenges. 3) responsible government: government by a cabinet answerable to, and removable by, a majority of the assembly 4) The Governor General (and each provincial lieutenant-governor) governs through a cabinet, headed by a prime minister or premier (the two terms mean the same thing: fi rst minister). If a national or provincial general election gives a party opposed to the cabinet in offi ce a clear majority (that is, more than half the seats) in the House of Commons or the legislature, the cabinet resigns and the Governor General or lieutenant-governor calls on the leader of the victorious party to become prime minister and form a new cabinet. The prime minister chooses the other ministers, who are then formally appointed by the Governor General or, in the provinces, by the lieutenant-governor. If no party gets a clear majority, the cabinet that was in offi ce before and during the election has two choices. It can resign, in which case the Governor General or lieutenant-governor will call on the leader of the largest opposition party to form a cabinet. Or the cabinet already in offi ce can choose to stay in offi ce and meet the newly elected House — which, however, it must do promptly. In either case, it is the people’s representatives in the newly elected House who will decide whether the “minority” government (one whose own party has fewer than half the seats) shall stay in offi ce or be thrown out. If a cabinet is defeated in the House of Commons on a motion of censure or want of confi dence, the cabinet must either resign (the Governor General will then ask the leader of the Opposition to form a new cabinet) or ask for a dissolution of Parliament and a fresh election. In very exceptional circumstances, the Governor General could refuse a request for a fresh election. For instance, if an election gave no party a clear majority and the prime minister asked for a fresh election without even allowing the new Parliament to meet, the Governor General would have to say no. This is because, if “parliamentary government” is to mean anything, a newly elected House of Commons must at least be allowed to meet and see whether it can transact public business. Also, if a minority government is defeated on a motion of want of confi dence very early in the fi rst session of a new Parliament, and there is a reasonable possibility that a government of another party can be formed and get the support of the House of Commons, then the Governor General could refuse the request for a fresh election. The same is true for the lieutenant-governors of the provinces. No elected person in Canada above the rank of mayor really has a fi xed term of offi ce. Recent legislation in several provinces and territories, as well as a May 2007 Act of Parliament, provide for general elections to be held on a fi xed date every four years under most circumstances. In practice this means that the expected term of offi ce for a member of Parliament (or of a legislature with a fi xed date law) would normally be four years. However, the Governor General’s power to dissolve Parliament is not aff ected by the fi xed date legislation. The prime minister can still ask for a fresh election at any time, although, as already stated, there may be circumstances in which he or she would not get it. There can be, and have been, Parliaments and legislatures that have lasted for less than a year. With extremely rare exceptions, no Parliament or legislature may last more than fi ve years. The cabinet has no “term.” Every cabinet lasts from the moment the prime minister is sworn in till he or she resigns, dies or is dismissed. For example, Sir John A. Macdonald was Prime Minister from 1878 until he died in 1891, right through the elections of 1882, 1887 and 1891, all of which he won. Sir Wilfrid Laurier was Prime Minister from 1896 to 1911, right through the elections of 1900, 1904 and 1908, all of which he won. He resigned after being defeated in the election of 1911. The same thing has happened in several provinces. An American president or state governor, re-elected, has to be sworn in all over again. A Canadian prime minister or premier does not. If a prime minister dies or resigns, the cabinet comes to an end. If this prime minister’s party still has a majority in the Commons or the legislature, then the Governor General or lieutenant-governor must fi nd a new prime minister at once. A prime minister who resigns has no right to advise the governor as to a successor unless asked; even then, the advice need not be followed. If he or she resigns because of defeat, the governor must call on the leader of the Opposition to form a government. If the prime minister dies, or resigns for personal reasons, then the governor consults leading members of the majority party as to who will most likely be able to form a government that can command a majority in the House. The governor then calls on the person he or she has decided has the best chance. This new prime minister will, of course, hold office only until the majority party has chosen a new leader in a national or provincial convention. This leader will then be called on to form a government. The cabinet consists of a varying number of ministers. The national cabinet has ranged from 13 to more than 40 members, and provincial cabinets from about 10 to over 30. Most of the ministers have “portfolios” (that is, they are in charge of particular departments — Finance, National Defence, Environment, Health, etc.), and are responsible, answerable and accountable to the House of Commons or the legislature for their particular departments. On occasion there can be ministers without portfolio. There may also be “ministers of state,” who may assist cabinet ministers with particular responsibilities or sections of their departments, or may be responsible for policy- oriented bodies known as “ministries of state.” (These assisting ministers, sometimes called “secretaries of state,” should not be confused with historically important departmental ministers once known as the Secretary of State for Canada and the Secretary of State for External Aff airs.) Ministers of state and secretaries of state are not always members of the cabinet. The ministers collectively are answerable to the House of Commons or the legislature for the policy and conduct of the cabinet as a whole. If a minister does not agree with a particular policy or action of the government, he or she must either accept the policy or action and, if necessary, defend it, or resign from the cabinet. This is known as “the collective responsibility of the cabinet,” and is a fundamental principle of our form of government. The cabinet is responsible for most legislation. It has the sole power to prepare and introduce bills providing for the expenditure of public money or imposing taxes. These bills must be introduced fi rst in the House of Commons; however, the House cannot initiate them, or increase either the tax or the expenditure without a royal recommendation in the form of a message from the Governor General. The Senate cannot increase either a tax or an expenditure. However, any member of either house can move a motion to decrease a tax or an expenditure, and the house concerned can pass it, though this hardly ever happens. 5) A federal state is one that brings together a number of different political communities with a common government for common purposes, and separate “state” or “provincial” or “cantonal” governments for the particular purposes of each community. The United States of America, Canada, Australia and Switzerland are all federal states. Federalism combines unity with diversity. It provides, as Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first Prime Minister, said, “A general government and legislature for general purposes with local governments and legislatures for local purposes.” 6) The British North America Act, 1867, was the instrument that brought the federation, the new nation, into existence. It was an Act of the British Parliament. But, except for two small points, it was simply the statutory form of resolutions drawn up by delegates from what is now Canada. Not a single representative of the British government was present at the conferences that drew up those resolutions, or took the remotest part in them. That Act, the British North America Act, 1867 (now renamed the Constitution Act, 1867), contained no provisions for its own.The Constitution Act, 1982, came into force on April 17, 1982. except a limited power for the provinces to amend their own constitutions. All other amendments had to be made by a fresh Act of the British Parliament. The Constitution Act, 1867, remains the basic element of our written Constitution. But the written Constitution, the strict law of the Constitution, even with the latest addition, the Constitution Act, 1982, is only part of our whole working Constitution, the set of arrangements by which we govern ourselves. It is the skeleton; it is not the whole body. Responsible government, the national cabinet, the bureaucracy, political parties: all these are basic features of our system of government. But the written Constitution does not contain one word about any of them (except for that phrase in the preamble to the Act of 1867 about “a Constitution similar in principle to that of the United Kingdom”). The fl esh, the muscles, the sinews, the nerves of our Constitution have been added by legislation (for example, federal and provincial elections acts, the Parliament of Canada Act, the legislative assembly acts, the public service acts); by custom (the prime minister, the cabinet, responsible government, political parties, federal-provincial conferences); by judgements of the courts (interpreting what the Act of 1867 and its amendments mean); and by agreements between the national and provincial governments. If the written Constitution is silent on all these things, which are the living reality of our Constitution, what does it say? If it leaves out so much, what does it put in? Before we answer that question, we must understand that our written Constitution, unlike the American, is not a single document. It is a collection of 25 primary documents outlined in the Constitution Act, 1982. The core of the collection is still the Act of 1867. This, with the amendments added to it down to the end of 1981, did 12 things. • First, it created the federation, the provinces, the territories, the national Parliament, the provincial legislatures and some provincial cabinets. • Second, it gave the national Parliament power to create new provinces out of the territories, and also the power to change provincial boundaries with the consent of the provinces concerned. • Third, it set out the power of Parliament and of the provincial legislatures. • Fourth, it vested the formal executive power in the Queen, and created the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada (the legal basis for the federal cabinet). • Fifth, it gave Parliament power to set up a Supreme Court of Canada (which it did, in 1875). • Sixth, it guaranteed certain limited rights equally to the English and French languages in the federal Parliament and courts and in the legislatures and courts of Quebec and Manitoba. • Seventh, it guaranteed separate schools for the Protestant and Roman Catholic minorities in Quebec and Ontario. It also guaranteed separate schools in any other province where they existed by law in 1867, or were set up by any provincial law after 1867. There were special provisions for Manitoba (created in 1870), which proved ineff ective; more limited guarantees for Alberta and Saskatchewan (created in 1905); and for Newfoundland (which came into Confederation in 1949), a guarantee of separate schools for a variety of Christian denominations. (Constitutional amendments have since changed the school systems in Quebec and in Newfoundland and Labrador, as the Province of Newfoundland is now offi cially known.) • Eighth, it guaranteed Quebec’s distinctive civil law. • Ninth, it gave Parliament power to assume the jurisdiction over property and civil rights, or any part of such jurisdiction, in other provinces, provided the provincial legislatures consented. This power has never been used. • Tenth, it prohibited provincial tariff s. • Eleventh, it gave the provincial legislatures the power to amend the provincial constitutions, except as regards the offi ce of lieutenant- governor. • Twelfth, it gave the national government (the Governor-in-Council: that is, the federal cabinet) certain controls over the provinces: appointment, instruction and dismissal of lieutenant-governors (two have been dismissed); disallowance of provincial acts within one year after their passing (112 have been disallowed — the last in 1943 — from every province except Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador); power of lieutenant-governors to send provincial bills to Ottawa unassented to (in which case they do not go into eff ect unless the central executive assents within one year; of 70 such bills, the last in 1961, from every province but Newfoundland and Labrador, only 14 have gone into eff ect). These are the main things the written Constitution did as it stood at the end of 1981. They provided the legal framework within which we could, and did, adapt, adjust, manoeuvre, innovate, compromise, and arrange, by what Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden called “the exercise of the commonplace quality of common sense.” The fi nal British Act of 1982, the Canada Act, provided for the termination of the British Parliament’s power over Canada and for the “patriation” of our Constitution. Under the terms of the Canada Act, the Constitution Act, 1982, was proclaimed in Canada and “patriation” was achieved. Under the Constitution Act, 1982, the British North America Act, 1867, and its various amendments (1871, 1886, 1907, 1915, 1930, 1940, 1946, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1960, 1964, 1965, 1974, 1975) became the Constitution Acts, 1867 to 1975. 7) The national Parliament has power “to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada,” except for “subjects assigned exclusively to the legislatures of the provinces.” The provincial legislatures have power over direct taxation in the province for provincial purposes, natural resources, prisons (except penitentiaries), charitable institutions, hospitals (except marine hospitals), municipal institutions, licences for provincial and municipal revenue purposes, local works and undertakings (with certain exceptions), incorporation of provincial companies, solemnization of marriage, property and civil rights in the province, the creation of courts and the administration of justice, fi nes and penalties for breaking provincial laws, matters of a merely local or private nature in the province, and education (subject to certain rights of the Protestant and Roman Catholic minorities in some provinces). Subject to the limitations imposed by the Constitution Act, 1982, the provinces can amend their own constitutions by an ordinary Act of the legislature. They cannot touch the offi ce of lieutenant-governor; they cannot restrict the franchise or qualifi cations for members of the legislatures or prolong the lives of their legislatures except as provided for in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Of course the power to amend provincial constitutions is restricted to changes in the internal machinery of the provincial government. Provincial legislatures are limited to the powers explicitly given to them by the written Constitution. So no provincial legislature can take over powers belonging to the Parliament of Canada. Nor could any provincial legislature pass an Act taking the province out of Canada. No such power is to be found in the written Constitution, so no such power exists. Similarly, of course, Parliament cannot take over any power of a provincial legislature. Parliament and the provincial legislatures both have power over agriculture and immigration, and over certain aspects of natural resources; but if their laws confl ict, the national law prevails. Parliament and the provincial legislatures also have power over old age, disability and survivors’ pensions; but if their laws confl ict, the provincial power prevails. By virtue of the Constitution Act, 1867, everything not mentioned as belonging to the provincial legislatures comes under the national Parliament. This looks like an immensely wide power. It is not, in fact, as wide as it looks, because the courts have interpreted the provincial powers, especially “property and civil rights,” as covering a very wide fi eld. As a result, all labour legislation (maximum hours, minimum wages, safety, workers’ compensation, industrial relations) comes under provincial law, except for certain industries such as banking, broadcasting, air navigation, atomic energy, shipping, interprovincial and international railways, telephones, telegraphs, pipelines, grain elevators, enterprises owned by the national government, and works declared by Parliament to be for the general advantage of Canada or of two or more of the provinces. Social security (except for Employment Insurance, which is purely national, and the shared power over pensions) comes under the provinces. However, the national Parliament, in eff ect, established nation- wide systems of hospital insurance and medical care by making grants to the provinces (or, for Quebec, yielding some of its fi eld of taxes) on condition that their plans reach certain standards. The courts’ interpretation of provincial and national powers has put broadcasting and air navigation under Parliament’s general power to make laws for the “peace, order and good government of Canada,” but otherwise has reduced it to not much more than an emergency power for wartime or grave national crises like nation- wide famine, epidemics, or massive inflation (though some recent cases go beyond this). However, the Fathers of Confederation, not content with giving Parliament what they thought an ample general power, added, “for greater certainty,” a long list of examples of exclusive national powers: taxation, direct and indirect; regulation of trade and commerce (the courts have interpreted this to mean interprovincial and international trade and commerce); “the public debt and property” (this enables Parliament to make grants to individuals — such as Family Allowances — or to provinces: hospital insurance and medicare, higher education, public assistance to the needy, and equalization grants to bring the standards of health, education and general welfare in the poorer provinces up to an average national standard); the Post Offi ce; the census and statistics; defence; beacons, buoys, lighthouses and Sable Island;* navigation and shipping; quarantine; marine hospitals; the fi sheries; interprovincial and international ferries, shipping, railways, telegraphs, and other such international or interprovincial “works and undertakings” — which the courts have interpreted to cover pipelines and telephones; money and banking; interest; bills of exchange and promissory notes; bankruptcy; weights and measures; patents; copyrights; Indians and Indian lands (the courts have interpreted this to cover Inuit as well); naturalization and aliens; the criminal law and procedure in criminal cases; the general law of marriage and divorce; and local works declared by Parliament to be “for the general advantage of Canada or of two or more of the provinces” (this has been used many times, notably to bring atomic energy and the grain trade under exclusive national jurisdiction). A 1940 constitutional amendment gave Parliament exclusive power over Unemployment Insurance and a specifi c section of the Act of 1867 gives it power to establish courts “for the better administration of the laws of Canada.” This has enabled Parliament to set up the Supreme Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal, the Federal Court and the Tax Court of Canada. As already noted, the national Parliament can amend the Constitution in relation to the executive government of Canada and the Senate and the House of Commons, except that it cannot touch the offi ce of the Queen or the Governor General, nor those aspects of the Senate and the Supreme Court of Canada entrenched by the amending formulas. Though Parliament cannot transfer any of its powers to a provincial legislature, nor a provincial legislature any of its powers to Parliament, Parliament can delegate the administration of a federal Act to provincial agencies (as it has done with the regulation of interprovincial and international highway traffic); and a provincial legislature can delegate the administration of a provincial Act to a federal agency. This “administrative delegation” is an important aspect of the flexibility of our Constitution. 8) One fundamental diff erence is that the United States is a country of one basic language. Canada is a country of two basic languages. The Fathers of Confederation deliberately chose to make it so. Our offi cial recognition of bilingualism is limited, but expanding. For example, it was at the specifi c request of the New Brunswick government that the adoption of French and English as the offi cial languages of that province was enshrined in the Constitution. Ontario, which has the largest number of French- speaking people outside Quebec, has provided French schools and an increasing range of services in French for Franco-Ontarians. Several other provinces have taken steps in the same direction. But under the Constitution, every province except Quebec, New Brunswick and Manitoba is absolutely free to have as many offi cial languages as it pleases, and they need not include either English or French. For example, Nova Scotia could make Gaelic its sole offi cial language, or one of two, three or a dozen offi cial languages in that province. Alberta could make Ukrainian its sole offi cial language, or Ukrainian, Polish and classical Greek its three official languages. Quebec, New Brunswick and Manitoba also are free to have as many offi cial languages as they please, but they must include English and French. A second basic diff erence between our Constitution and the American is, of course, that we are a constitutional monarchy and they are a republic. That looks like only a formal diff erence. It is very much more, for we have parliamentary-cabinet government, while the Americans have presidential- congressional. What does that mean? What difference does it make? First, in the United States the head of state and the head of the government are one and the same. The president is both at once. Here, the Queen, ordinarily represented by the Governor General, is the head of state, and the prime minister is the head of the government. Does that make any real difference? Yes: in anada, the head of state can, in exceptional circumstances, protect Parliament and the people against a prime minister and ministers who may forget that “minister” means “servant,” and may try to make themselves masters. For example, the head of state could refuse to let a cabinet dissolve a newly elected House of Commons before it could even meet, or could refuse to let ministers bludgeon the people into submission by a continuous series of general elections. The American head of state cannot restrain the American head of government because they are the same person. For another thing, presidential-congressional government is based on a separation of powers. The American president cannot be a member of either house of Congress. Neither can any of the members of his or her cabinet. Neither the president nor any member of the cabinet can appear in Congress to introduce a bill, or defend it, or answer questions, or rebut attacks on policies. No member of either house can be president or a member of the cabinet. Parliamentary-cabinet government is based on a concentration of powers. The prime minister and every other minister must by custom (though not by law) be a member of one house or the other, or get a seat in one house or the other within a short time of appointment. All government bills must be introduced by a minister or someone speaking on his or her behalf, and ministers must appear in Parliament to defend government bills, answer daily questions on government actions or policies, and rebut attacks on such actions or policies. In the United States, the president and every member of both houses is elected for a fixed term: the president for four years, the senators for six (one-third of the Senate seats being contested every two years), the members of the House of Representatives for two. The only way to get rid of a president before the end of the four-year term is for Congress to impeach and try him or her, which is very hard to do. As the president, the senators and the representatives are elected for diff erent periods, it
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