POL-2101 C - introduction to Canadian politics
• Different fields to political science
• International relations, political theory, comparative politics
• There are connections between Canadian politics and all of these fields of political
• In the late 19 century, the federal model of government wasn’t very popular
• In the 1860s, John macdonald did not like the US model of government.
• French Canadians did not like the central model of government
• The result was a compromise. Canada was a federation.. it became a central federation.
One of the first in the modern world.
• The way Canada was designed at first was to be centralized.
• The American model was much decentralised. They did not want to delegate they’re
country to a central government
• The conventional understanding of the british north American act of 1867 was to create a
centralized federation. A federation where the federal government would be more
powerful then the provincial
• The nature of the division of powers..article 91 and 92 list the powers of the federal and
• Things that were important then that made a state, a state was given to the federal
• The more local, smaller things were for the provincial government
• Looking at the division of powers it is noticeable that the intention was to have a strong
center of federal government
• POGG – Peace order and good government
• The federal government protects the POGG..
• In the BNA act there are two clauses that give the federal government a power of
disallowance.. • Enables the federal government to disallow, or a power of over sight of provincial
• There are lieutenant governors in each province that are agents of the federal
• a federation is a state where there is a division of power...
• the division of power is stipulated/written down in a constitution. Therefore it is
constitutional, but why?
• Anything not written in the constitution could be changed unilaterally
• Constitution vs a law...
• Changing a constitution requires the support of the federal government and also a
significant number of units of the federal government. They are hard to change and thats
why writing in the division of powers in a constitution makes sure that the federal
government or provinces cannot unilaterally change the division of power
• A federation is a state where there is a constitution division of powers
• A federation is a state where there is a division of sovereignty
• In a federation sovereignty is divided by levels of government... because constitution
• What is the distinction between federation and federalism...
• Argument: federalism is an approach to governing.. political approach, ideology.. in
balancing solidarity and autonomy, interdependence and independence
• You can have federation and you can have unitary state but the nature of federalism can
be different from one federation from another.
• Centralization and decentralization in federalism....
• What does this mean?
• It is about the relative power between the country and the provinces
• How do we know if Canada is centralized or decentralized? • You can look at the division of tax dollars an economist perspective. “lets look at all the
taxes paid by Canadian citizens. What percentage goes to the federal government and
the provincial governments?”
• French Canadian scholars say Canada is decentralized... other scholars say Canada is
• What are the forces for change when it comes to federalism?
• Parties and ideologies, international crises, internal shock?, social change or belief at a
citizen level (societal appetite for federal or provincial presence), attempt at
constitutional change, societal change, courts render decisions in terms of favouring
provincial or federal governments
• Alot of points in this lecture state that Canada has a centralized government
• 4 entities agreeing to have a state... provincial rights movement?
• Canada did not have a supreme court that could arbitrate b/w prov and fed
governments... so the cases were sent to the judicial committee in London
• WW1, the great depression and world war 2... crises of an international nature tends to
serve to centralized because in times of crises you need government act decisively and
that it is easier to act decisively then unilaterally. Usually in times of crises federal
governments can make the argument both political and legal that these are extraordinary
times. In the 1930s the federal gov had money and the prov were broke. The fed gov
was in no position to develop programs to help those in needs even tho they had power
to do that. They basically said they have ideas like welfare but eventually courts were
directed to the fed gov to sometimes find agreement to provinicial governments but in
the end both the legal and political led to the federal government. Basically the war at
the end of depression served to build up federal power. Family allowance begun in this
era, so did welfare and so did tension after.
• The 1950s are considered they heyday of federal power right after ww2. Building the
welfare state protecting Canadians coast to coast. In this period there was an appetite
for a need of social programs that were absent. The federal government stepped up to
serve and fill these new functions aided by revenue. In the 1960s we have the
“pushback” – quiet revolution in quebec
• The quebec government has a special responsibility because it needs to care for the
minority in the country and thus requires power that was then assumed by the federal
government. A clear push of decentralization... domino effect. Alberta was inspired by
quebec • The provinces made the argument that there constitutional responsibilities included such
things as education and health. As governments because more and more involved in
post secondary education and health, those responisibilies fell into the provincial
• In the trudeau years in 1968.. the literature tells us that the push was for centralization.
There was a sense that justice that required all Canadians be treated equally. This
required a strong role for the federal government. The charter of rights and freedoms....
• Both quebec and Alberta had problems with the trudeau approach
• In the Mulroney years, there is a different view of federalism. For trudeau you need a
strong federal government. For Mulroney, he push for provincial autonomy...more
• The chretien and martin years.. chretien conception of federalism was a strong federal
government was the right thing for the country. He was interested new programs without
being sensitive to provincial jurisdiction. This approach is more centralized. His
approach was more like trudeaus. Martin approach federalism more like Mulroney but he
believed in accommodating provincial claims and scaling back a bit the presence of
federal government. A lot of modern day politicians have advocated more
centralization... where as those that have been more decentralist like Mulroney and
• Stephen harper there is a very specific label of open federalism. He wanted to come
back to the original division of power in 1867 . his argument was “the federal government
will stop intervening in fields and creating programs where it is inhibited to act”
• Intergovernmental relations
• There needs to be intergovernmental relations in order for the levels of government to
• There are 2 basic ways to think about organizing governmental relations : Interstate vs
• Interstate – organizing governmental relation that relies on the second house (whether
you call it a senate or something). It is an American model, used in Germany too. In the
US, all the American states are represented by a senate; the American senate himself
makes federal legislation. The different units can