POLI 221 Study Guide - Final Guide: Asymmetric Federalism, October Crisis, Long Knives

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Government of Canada Conference
Office hours: Tuesday, 1 – 2, Leacock 432
Reading for next week:
Ocoin reading, democratizing the constitution p.111- 151, house of common section.
- gov. general: has reserve power  have power at all times, but only exercise
when they need too. Gov. general has final say over PM technically. Can
appoint PM.
- Vote of none confidence: minority parliament falls, gov. general decides
what’s next  can call an election, have power to go to the leader of the party
with the second most seats to form a government, becomes a coalition
- Gov. general has to sign bill to become law (royal assent), the idea is that if
it’s already been passed by the house of commons and the senate they
shouldn’t veto that power, but they could if they wanted too.
- Argument: that the governor general is a check on the power of the PM
(constitutional law), the other side of the argument, since when do we check
the power of the PM he decides everything
- Smp, or pr electoral system, google this
- Making the constitution Canadian: the statue of Westminster 1930s, ralflor
declaration, and letters patent.  can make decisions w/o say of UK.
- Unanimity rule: unanimous support (more of a convention than a rule)
- 750 rule, you need this to change entrenched law, 7 out 10 provinces, 50% of
pop. To change entrenched law, ex: constitution act
- un-entrenched: can change w/o using the two above rules.
- norms vs. conventions: convention – unwritten rule. Ex: you should not
break this convention ex: if pm looses confidence vote, pm should go to the
governor general and say they can’t lead anymore. A little bit more formal
and powerful even though unwritten. **
- Norm: a way of behaving that’s not a formal rule, accepted. Ex: in House of
Commons when having debates, no one refers to each other by name.
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 Electoral system:
PR: proportional representation. There are no individual districts. Ex: Israel,
the entire country is one district. You vote for a party with no names, to
better translate votes into seats, this party got 40 % of pop., 40 percent
divided by how many seats,  this system helps to avoid false majority: have
majority of seats but not majority of votes. Problem: don’t have clear person
that you can ask when you have issues.
SMP: whoever gets the most votes. Break country up into different districts
(308 ridings) , whoever gets most votes in sections.
Problem: voting by party and not by representative.
Positive benefit: your constituencies can help you w/ problems with
passports, immigration, schooling ext. (have someone you know you can go
Thursday, October 3rd 2013
Unanimity clause: extra rule tht applies to changing some things in the
constitution ex: changing the amending formula ex: rule tht province must
have the same number of ppl in house of commons as the senate
(Amending formula 750 rule): change entrenched constitutional law
BOTH are entrenched constitutional law.
How would a convo with John A. Macdonald go with Steven Harper?
Democratic deficit?
Checks & Balances
** Sec 9, sec 17
- parliamentary budget officer was put into place by Steven Harper, look at our
budgetary books parliament, see if what they are telling us matches up with the
books. Ex: gov. thinks that they can put in this program for 100 million, actually
can’t. Is budget realistic.
- Auditor general: looks at what government is spent in the passed.
 Aucoin Reading
What is the central question they are trying to answer?
Does the PM have too much power? YES
- have power to ignore parliament especially when they loose confidence
- has a lot of persuasive power, appoints people he wants into his cabinet and
- PMO: partisan office, staffed full of conservatives, people that can write
campaign adds and that have participated extensively in campaigning,
whether or not it’s a good idea to introduce bill ext. What we think is best for
our party
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- PCO: non partisan, members have to sign neutrality agreement that they will
not be doing any partisan service, they would neutrally implement things,
merits based institution, what has happened in recent years that PMs are
trying to politicized the PCO.
In theory, the head of the Privee council (clerk), bound to serve whoever the
PM no matter what, has to over look their own partisan wishes, they are the
work force of government.
- the PM staffs these people, lately he has been taken more action in
appointing people in the PCO, can fire and appoint a new deputy minister of
- One way to remove the punishment towards MPs, is that the leader is chosen
by the caucas.  national convention method.
missed one conference
Thursday, October 24th 2013
Dan Savoie Reading for next conference.
 The Senate
- the sober second thought: supposed to examine legislation carefully
- supposed to provide original representation  regional representation,
wealthy interests (1867 to be a senator had to have 4 thousand dollars worth
of money).
- To be a check on the political executive, accountability, for this reason was
given the same amount of power of house
- Constraints cannot amend constitutional and cannot pass money bills.
- The senate is better at representing visible minorities.
- Present expense scandal, common among senators, get expense budgets, take
advantages, uses tax payer funds for this.  does this suggest that the senate
is illegitimate or is it the people in the senate who are the problem.
- The speaker of the house is elected through secret ballet, to avoid high
partisan votes. (head of gov would control the vote) Should we do this for the
senate in order to make them more legitimate?
- what are the results of electing a senate through popular vote? how would
that affect partisanship, how would that effect them as being a check on the
- If we start electing them they will use their power more often, senatorial
restraint wouldn’t exist, they will be fully active, will check the pm at will and
not defer decisions to the house, could also be redundant. (since house is
already elected body), cabinet also has regional rep.
- Is partisanship a good thing in the senate? Should be bipartisan. The pm has
too much power, senate should use their sober second thought.
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