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Political Science 2230E Jan. 29 Parliament.docx

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Western University
Political Science
Political Science 2230E
Gaile Mc Gregor

Canadian Government 2230: Parliament (Jan. 29 ) th The Executive & The Legislature - link between executive & government - The legislature – means of ensuring democratic control - Two models:  1) Separation of powers (the US)  2) Fusion of powers (Britain & Canada)  Senate & House of representatives (based on population)  Each institution, executive & legislative have different powers  President has veto power, but he can’t propose things  Executive is not part of the legislature  Congress can’t do anything to get rid of the legislature - Canadian system – fusion of powers  Executive is leading members of the legislature  Cabinet remains in office only as long as it has the support in government  Fusion of powers is more efficient Parliament - s. 17: The Crown, House of Commons, & the Senate  laws have to go through all 3 to be passed - Senate  Representation by region  105  members appointed by the governor general (approved by the Prime Minister)  representation of regions  get to hold their position for life originally, now only until they are 75  more seats have been added since more provinces have been added  65 of the 105 seats are conservative  No NDP senators because they want to abolish the senate (could have seats if they wanted, but chose not to) - House of Commons  Representation by population  Bigger the population, more seats you have  Every 10 years, composition of the house is updated  308 seats (soon to be 338)  some provinces are under or over represented - factors include: territory; Quebec – lone French province – guaranteed 75 seats  ones with low populations were concerned so they brought it to the government, so the government made a set amount of seats that each province is at least guaranteed  Ontario was initially going to get fewer seats, but they complained and got more  Other factors besides population determine amount of seats appointed in the house - Bicameralism  Britain? US? Australia?  Britain & Canada – Westminster style of gov’t  Lower house is elected (executive & political accountability)  Upper house is appointed (limited legislative powers)  US – Washminster  Elected senate  Number of people from every state (2 people)  Elected house of representatives (representation by population) - Prime Minister o Public opinion doesn’t constrain their will; however there is a risk they will lose the next election, so the public opinion is at the back of their mind o Most legislation is dominated by them o Power of appointment: senators; cabinet ministers; judiciary o Power of them is increasing over policy development, so the role of political parties influencing policies is on decline, why? o Use role of MP’s - Members of Parliament o Usually talking about members of the house of commons o Don’t represent the population very well (aka. Visible minorities, aboriginals, women) – reflection of population? o Models of Rep.: 1. Trustee – people in your constituency vote for you & trust you to use your best judgment on issues; 2. Constituency Delegate – when elected, act on best interests of their constituency; differs from trustee; 3. Party Delegate – when elected, voted on accordance of the wishes of their party o Types of MP’s 1. Backbenchers – members of parliament, but not members of the Cabinet  PM, cabinet, backbenchers, parliamentary secretaries, house leader, party whip, opposition members  Party caucus – meetings that provide backbenchers with opportunity to give feedback; influence these people have is heavily dependent on what the PM says  Backbenchers don’t have the same access to resources that the executive has (most MP’s & backbenchers don’t have very long careers)  Because of ‘cabinet solidarity’, if you try to challenge a member of the cabinet, you’re challenging the whole cabinet  PM & cabinet have power over backbenchers 2. Parliamentary Secretaries  Assist with cabinet duties  Might answer questions or introduce legislation  Training to be cabinet minsters  Also done to reward backbenchers 3. House Leader  Every party has one  Talk about what is going to be on the agenda & when 4. Party Whips  Responsible for making sure party members vote within the party  Determines where your office is  Determines who is going to speak during sessions & sit in different committees 5. Opposition Members  Main goal is to criticize gov’t  Institutionalized powers  Given different powers to criticize gov’t  Have to force gov’t to explain what they’re doing  Partisan politics – main objective is to undermine public support of the gov’t Party Discipline - public face to agree with party policy in public even if you actually don’t - despite personal views, if you’re an MP you’re expected to vote within the party - Loyalty to the party comes first -
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