POL1101 FINAL EXAM REVIEW:
Constitution: “The Fundamental Rules and principles by which a state is governed”
What a constitutin does:
1. A constitution determines which institutions have the authority to make laws
and decision (explicitly states the role of president, courts, senate etc.)
2. Indicates procedures for a proposed legislation to become a law
3. Delinates the rights and freedoms that are guaranteed
4. A general statement of values and goals of the political community.
Constitutional government: - “A government that acts in accordance with the principles
established in the constitution”
Written and unwritten constitutions:
-Canada constitution act, 1867. Was amended in 1982, constitution act, 1982
-The Uk is mostly governed by constitution conventions
-Constitutional convention: Fundamental principles that are followed by are not
contained in a legal document and are not enforced by the courts.
Constitution sets the power of..
Legislative Branch: Branch that makes general laws, in charge of developing
legislation. (House of commons, representative, senate)
Executive Branch: Responsible for implementing administrative laws and policies.
(In Canada- fusion between House of Commons and executive)
Judicial Branch: Resolve disagreements on how to interpret laws and make sure
the constitution is respected
A system of governing in which there is a close interrelationsip between the political
executive ( Prime minister and cabinet) and Parliament ( the legislative or law
making body). The executive is generally compose of members of the House of
Commons ( the elected body) and must maintain the support of the House of
Four characteristics of a Parliamentary system:
1. Members of the executive are usually drawn from the legislative branch.
(Basically the prime minister is also a member of parliament)
2. Executive must have the confidence of parliament or the legislative branch. ( In a
parliamentary system in Canada a government will remain in place as long as they
do not lose a confidence vote, or by election) Confidence votes are so important
that if the gov looses the vote the gov will resign (confidence vote: annual budget)
3. Executive can dissolve the legislature and call an election at any time. 4. Position of head of state is largely ceremonial, with no real power (In Canada its
the Queen, or governor general).
Parliamentary System and the Head of State
Approval of legislations appointments, ratification of treaties, etc (largely
Ensure that there is a government in place
Europe: some emergency powers, can force new elections
In rebuplican system the president is either directly elected(austia, finland,
ireland) or is elected by the legislature (germany, greece, switzerland, isreal).
Their role is to approve treaties, but they will automatically sign what the PM
Parliamentary System and the Executive: Prime Minister (Head of Government) and
Powers: - Foreign and intergovernmental relations
Set legislative program and priorities
No term limit (PM can be PM foreverrrrrrrrrrrrr)
Prime minister is the head of the party that has won the most seats in the election
Prime minister represents the Canadian federal government in important
negotiations. PM is in charge of foreign affairs and intergovernmental relations
Cabinet is composed of the prime minister and the ministers they have chosen,
finance, health. - Role of Cabinet is to set bills that have priority – they introduce
bills to the house of commons.
There is very little opportunity for member of parliament who are not in the
cabinet to introduce their own bills.
PM is responisble for naming the cabinet.
Another element of parliamenty democracy – expectation that the prime minister
and the cabinet will defend and justify the actions of the government in response
to critisism from the opposition party
Parliamentary systems: Responsible government/Confidence
Definition: “A governing system in which the political executive (the prime minister and
the cabinet) is accountable to Parliament for its action based on the principle that the
political executive must retain the support of the elected members of Parliament to
remain in office” - Key dimensions
Confidence and party discipline
If Harper wants to stay in power he must make sure all members of
the house (conservative at least) vote in the same way.
Person in charge to make sure everyone follows the party line is
called the whip.
Question period and ministerial responsibility
expectation that the prime minister and the cabinet will defend and
justify the actions of the government in response to critisism from
the opposition party
- Types of government in a parliamentary system
When a party wins the majority of the seats, they are able to form a
majority government. Which makes it easy for them to pass their
Has the mosts seats but not the majority
Highly unstable, most negotiate on a case to case basis
When theres more than one party that rules together.
Example: Germany, in late 1990s there was a coalition government
between the social democratic with the green party, and they
would together form a majority government
The Canadian Parliamentary System:
-House of commons ( Lower House) – real center of legislative power
-Senate (Upper house) unelected body of 105 members with very limited power
Characteristics of the Canadian Parliamentry System
-Very Strong party discipline (even for bills that are not viewed as confident, iti s
very that that member of parliament vote different than the leader Non-members of cabinet (private members) play a minor role in governing
process (In Canada there is much less capacity in shaping bills or it's content
because they tend to follow their leaders)
Limited role of the second chamber (the Senate) (Does not play an important role
in the legislative process in comparison to the US senate)
High concentration of power in the hands of the PM (When theres a majority
government in Canada, theres a high concentration of power in the hands of the
PM - “friendly dictator” when PM has a majority. Can basically govern as they
want. Very limited checks on his power)
A system of governing in which the president and Congress each separately derive
their authority from being elected by the people and have a fixed term in office. The
president is both the head of government and the head of state.
-Separation of the different branches of government
1. Activities are organized into at least 3 separate branches
2. Legislative and executive are elected separately
3. Executive does not require the confidence of the legislative branch to remain
4. Executive can not dissolve the legislature
5. President is both the head of state and head of government
Main Powers- Head of Governemnt/Head of State
-Commander in chief
-Appointments (Subject to senate approval)
-Selects executive (cabinet)
-2 term limit
-Can not be elected for more than 2 terms
-must govern with congress ( congrees, HOR, senate in charge of bringing forward
House of representatives
-Elected every 2 years, represented by population
-Can initiate legislation, but legislation can be vetoed by the President
-6 year terms, 2 per state
-Power to veto key Presidential appointments Conference Committees: Venue for thorough debate of legislation
Semi-presidential systems : A government system in which an elected president shares
power with a prime minister and a Cabinet, which usually needs to retain the support of
the elected legislature.
Implemented in France and Russia, Poland, Romania, Portugal
The cabinet must maintain the confidence of the parliament
In France the president appoints the prime minister and normally the PM is from
the majority party in the elected national assembly. With the advise of the PM, he
appoints a cabinet. Like in a presidential system ministers in France do not sit in
the national assembly but contrary to the US the national assembly can force the
PM and the cabinet to resign by a confidence vote.
Prime minister responisble for domestic agenda, pm is commander in chief and
responisble for foreign affairs. Unlike the US, the president can call a new
election. But must wait at least one year to do so.
Contrary to US, the president does not have a veto for the legislations adopted to
the National assembly, but he has the right to send back the law for
reconsideration or can send the legislation to the constitutional court to verify it's
Cohabitation: PM is from one political party, president is from the other political
Parliamentry Soverignty vs Judicial Review
Judicial Review: The authority of the court to strike down legislation or government
actions that courts deem t be in violation of the constitution
A basic principle of the British system of governing recognizing Parliament as the
supreme law-making body such that the courts cannot invalidate an act of
Rights and Freedoms: Westminster vs US Model
Westminster model: Prior to the advent of the Charter, Parliament was the supreme
guarantor of individual rights and freedoms
Courts could mainly adjudicate on federal-provincial jurisdictional disputes
American model: rights of individuals enshrined in written constitutional model that is
beyond the reach of legislators.
Courts empowered to rule on constitutionality of government legislation In Canada historically followed the Westminster model, but then adopted bill of rights
which is highly symbolic.
Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
-part of the constitution act, 1982
Fundamental freedoms (e.g. freedom on conscience and religion, opinion and
Democratic rights (e.g. universal franchise, hold elected office)
Mobility rights (right to move, pursue livelihood in each province)
Legal rights (life, liberty and security of the person, right to trial within reasonable
period, presumed innocent until proven guilty)
Equality (race, religion, sex, religion, origin, age, mental or physical disability, etc).
Collective rights: Language rights (English and French are official languages, right to
be schooled in English or French mother tongue)
Basic provisions subject to limitation through a reasonable limits clause, provided
that the limits can be “demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society
Notwithstanding clase: Section 33 of the charter allows parliament of a pronicial
legislature to override some rights:
Fundamental freedoms, legal rights, equality rights but not democratic, mobility,
language and male-female equality rights
Legislative ody would have to explicity state that a law operates
“nonwithstanding” the provisions in the Charter
o Subject to a 5-year limit, but can be re-enacted
Charter of Rights and Freedoms vs US Bill of Rights
The right to private property?
US Bill of Rights – yes
Canadian Charter – no
Canada: collective rights (language and denominational schools) Sovereignty: “The principle that states have the right to govern their population and
territory without outside [or inside] interference.”
3 models of terriorial organization, unitary, confideration and
2 dimensions: extra: lack of intervention for foreign invertvention
Internal: extent of which the final state has the power
What differenciats is whether such internal sovereignty is absolute and whether
sovereignty is shared between different levels of government. All in hands of
central state, or divided between different levels of government
Unitary states: “A system of governing in which sovereign authority rests with the
central government; regional and local governments are subordinate”
Ultimately all sovereignty rests with the central state
National legislature is the supreme law-making body in the country
Can allow other bodies to exist, but can overrule them and those bodies are
There is no entrentch or constitution protect of power between the national
legislature and other bodies
This means that the national legislature can revoke any powers that the region
legislature put in place
Devolution: “A system of governing in which the central government grants some
legislative as well as administrative responsibilities to one or more regional bodies”
For example in Italy they desided to create region government, but the power of
those region bodies are granted by the national government
A system of governing in which sovereign states have agreed to delegate some of
their authority to a joint government with limited authority while retaining their
identity as a sovereign state.
-Absolute sovereignty: can delegate some powers they have to a higher level (EU)
-Delegation (vs devolution)
-Ex: European Union
A system of governing in which sovereign authority is divided or shared between
the central government and regional governments, with each deriving its authority
from the constitution.
-Non absolute sovereignty
-Central legislature has limited powers, it might not revoke or interfere with the
decisions of the regional government -Federation can only exist when a constitution, rather than national party is actually
sovereign. So national government can’t do w/e they want.
-Two orders of the government.
A Legal/Constitutional conception
Supreme written constitution that can not be unilateraly ammended
Consent on both levels of government are required because sovereignty is
Distribution of legislative & executive authority. - Education, provinces...
National security, federal.
'Coordinacy': two levels of government are mutually independent and that each –
can not violate jurisdiction of another level of gov
Federalism: A Political Construct
Operational reality vs constitutional form
Processes and institutions facilitating inter-governmental relations
Predisposition to democratic values
o Citizen-consent, genuine non-centralization (respect for jurisdictional
boundaries), checks and balances (nonconcentration of power), respect for
Models of Federalism
Quasi-Federalism: used to desribe the federal system in which the central
government is in possesion of overriding powers that undermine the sovereignty
of the provinces.
Classical federalism: When each level of gov concerns themselves with own area
of constitutional authority, without infringing upon the areas of authority of other
levels of government.
Cooperative federalism: when the two levels of government are jointly involved
in administering and developing many government services
Competitive federalism: different orders of government will often fight for the
loyalty and support of citizens in order to obtain greater powers and resources
Comparing Federations: Key Indicators
Distribution of powers
o Exclusive: exclusively signed to one level of government, foreign affairs:
federal only o Concurrent: When they are assigned to both levels of government: in
canada: agricultue, pensions, immigration. Each level of government can
act in according to how important it is for them. It allows for flexibility.
o Residual power: A constituional assignment of jursidiction over those
matters not otherwise listed in the constituion. In most federation, residual
power tends to be assigned to the lower units of government. In Canada it
is assigned to the federal government. Has not played a huge role, because
we have a fairly long list of responisblities for provinces.
Centralized vs decentralized federations
o Legislative powers
o Revenues: provinces now in canada raise the majority of revenue, pay
more taxes on average to provinces than federal government.
Asymmetrical vs symmetrical federalism:
Symmetrical: when each province have exactly the same legislative powers and
Asymmetrical: In certain federations, that certain provinces have different powers
than other provinces.
o Political: Certain level of asymmetry in Canada. 1. Quebec has it's own
pension plan. 2. Quebec is the only province that select a huge amount of
National vs multi-national federations
National: only one clearly identifiable national group, such as Germany
Multinational: Belgium, Canada, South Africa, Nigeria. More than one group that
considers itself to be a nation. Viewed to be highly unstable.
Federalism: Benefits vs Drawbacks
Diversity management: federalism is a perfect system for managing multinations.
Democracy: more access points, more space for democratic conversation and
dialogue, draw back: it undermines accountability, don't know which level is in
charge, always pass the blame, negotiate in secret.
Policy effectiveness: Pro federalism: allows for laboratories of innovation. Con:
multiplies politicans, complica