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Political Process Cont'd (3)

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

1 June 18, 2008 The Political Process Cont’d Representative Assemblies • Functions o To legislate  Pass laws, sometimes to initiate them o In parliamentary systems  To help form a governing executive o Keep executive in check  “Responsible government” o To create alternative executive if one is required o To represent constituents o For opposition members  To criticize the government o Debate all issues • Bicameralism o “Lower House”  Based on representation by population • Ex: House of Commons, House of Representatives, Bundestag o “Upper House”  Often based on regional representation • Ex: Canadian and American Senate, Bundesrat  Can be appointed by federal government • Canadian Senate  Can be appointed by regional governments • Bundesrat  Can be appointed by legislatures • American Senate after 1913 2 Canadian Legislative System • Government Bills o Bills usually originate with individual Cabinet Ministers o Including PM • Private-Members’ Bills o Any Member of Parliament may introduce legislation o These type of bills are rarer • Senators may introduce bills o Also rare o Not money bills • Public Bills o Apply to the public as a whole o Most bills are public bills • Private Bills o Involve legal rights for certain individuals and corporations  Mostly dealt with by Senate Bill Process • First Reading o If a bill gets Cabinet Committee approval, and approval of full Cabinet, bill is announced in the House of Commons • Second Reading o Leads to debate and vote on principle of bill  If accepted, bill usually goes to a relevant parliamentary committee which may propose amendments to bill • Third Reading o Full House votes on original, or, if agreed, an amended bill  A majority vote is needed to accept bill • Royal Assent o Once Senate approves bill, Governor-General must give Royal Assent  This is a formality, but Gov-Gen can refuse to sign a bill • Proclamation o Bill is now law and is proclaimed **NOTE** • Majority governments, because of strict party discipline, can easily get a bill through these stages • Bill then goes to Senate for a repeat of process • Senate usually goes along with the House of Commons o Still has the right to defeat a bill  Bill is then dead 3 • Senate can amend a bill o The bill then goes to House in amended form for reconsideration  This is rare Make-Up of Canadian House of Commons • Speaker o MP elected by the whole House o Regulates debate and votes in a tie • Governing Party o Usually the largest party o Includes the PM and Cabinet o Sits to Speaker’s right • Official Opposition o Next largest party o Includes Leader of Opposition Party, other parties, independents, and excess members of “governing party” o Sits to Speaker’s left • Whips o MPs designed to keep party discipline • If MPs vote against their party, they are usually punished in a variety of ways • Senate o 105 members appointed by the PM o Supposed to have regional representation o Our version of the House of Lords **NOTE** • The defeat of the government on an important bill means the legislature has lost the “confidence” of the ruling executive o Executive must resign and the legislature is usually for
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