POLI 101 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Responsible Government, Representative Democracy, Collective Responsibility

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2 Aug 2016
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3.1 Emergence of a Responsible government
Absolute Monarchy- The crown hold both legislative and executive power, king and queen made
laws and administered them
Separation of powers- John Locke made the first argument, Montestquieu claimed that the best
way to avoid corruption and abuse of political power was to ensure that legislative and executive
powers were assigned to separate individuals. “Free political order”
Separation of powers can lead to friction and conflict between the two governing bodies.
Upper Canada- “Family Compact” a small clique of wealthy citizens who controlled political and
economic life. “Reformers” wanted to break the power of the “family compact” Even if the
reformers won, governors were unwilling to cooperate in the implementation of the reform act.
Durham report- colonial constitutions be amended so as to replace the principle of separation of
powers by the principle of responsible government.
Fundamental features of RG=executive responsible for its actions to a democratically elected
legislative assembly. Introduced in 1848 in Nova Scotia.
- The accountability implies firstly that the executive is required to defend its actions in the
House.
-However, it is meaningless if the House before which the exec defends its actions is unable to
do anything about exec actions it finds unacceptable.
Exec power must have the approval of the HOuse for their use of that power
-RG exhibits democratic control of exec power
3.2 Conventions of RG
1.The crown, which has a formal title to exec power, will act only “on the advice of” its ministers.
It is the minister's itself that exercise exec power, their advice is basically a command. Merely a
figurehead.
2. The Crown normally appoints ministers or advisers who are MP’s. The rule is meant to
facilitate exec accountability: putting the Crown’s ministers in the House itself makes them more
accessible to other MP’s who wish to question or criticize them. Appoint one or two senators as
ministers. It is possible to appoint people who are neither senators or MP’s. In such case, the
persons appointed must take the first possible opportunity to run for a seat in the HoC. If they
lose, they need to immediately resign.
3. Exercise “Collective responsibility” -Ministers must act as a team or “ministry” led by the PM,
with each minister sharing in the responsibility for all policy decisions made by any member of
the ministry.
4.Crown will appoint and maintain as minister only people who have the confidence of the HoC.
Without this rule, RG would not necessarily be democratic since the crown could appoint a
ministry consisting of only a small minority of the electorate.
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