POL214Y1 Fall 2010 Term Review

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1 Apr 2011
POL214Y Midterm Exam
Midterm Exam Format
Duration: 2 hours (2:10-4 PM, December 7, 2010)
Location: Examination Facility, 255 McCaul St. (Rooms 100 and 300)
Format: Choose 3 out of a selection of 9 questions and write short essays on them
For each question there are likely to be 3 sub-topics to be discussed
Study according to the lecture overviews that Wiseman provides at the beginning of
the lecture
This exam is to show that you remember what we have talked about
oYou are supposed to describe and explain the significance of the concepts
mentioned in the questions
What are the implications of the topic?
You should primarily be focused on Brooks- but refer to the texts in Russell if you
want above 90%
2 Hours, 3 Essays Use your time wisely by sketching out an outline
TA Paul prefers double-spacing
Make sure to lay your main arguments out in the introduction paragraph
Weeks 1&2: The Constitution and Constitutional Change
September 14 & 21, 2010
Stephen Brooks,Canadian Democracy Chapter 5: The Constitution
oAppendix A:The Constitution Act, 1867
oAppendix B:Constitution Act, 1982
Peter Russell,Essential Readings in Canadian Government and Politics
oReading 9 : Peter Russell,Canada- A Pioneer in the Management of Constitutional
Politics in a Multinational Society
oReading 48: Night of the Long Knives
oReading 49: Supreme Court of Canada, “Quebec Succession Reference
oReading 54: Russell,Constitutional Politics in a New Era Canada Returns to Old
oReading 55 : Sujit Choudhry, “Constitutional Change in the 21st Century
*Constitution Act, 1867
*Constitution Act, 1982
*Parliamentary Supremacy
*The Amending Formula
*Living Tree Constitution
*Supreme Court of
Canada *From
supremacy to
*Persons Case
*Meech Lake Accord
Accord (1992)
*Big C vs. Small C
*Canadas Three
Visions (4)
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POL214Y Midterm Exam
*Quebec succession
reference (1995)
Lecture Structure
What is a constitution?
3 Constitutional Pillars (Responsible Government, federalism and charter rights)
The difference between BigC and SmallC constitutions (EG What is written vs. what are
considered conventions)
4 Competing Constitutional Visions :
oFederal-Provincial Ensemble
The Amending Formula
The Constitution
Lecture 1: September 14, 2010
What is a constitution?
The governing principles of a country
An outline of the division of power (executive, legislative, judicial)
oDivisions between levels of government (federal & provincial)
The supreme law of the land within a given territory, one which guides the formation of all other laws
A constitution establishes and defines the community
A constitution is a badge of nationhood- often revised after wars and revolutions
Changing Meanings
The constitution referred to the rights of parliament during the 19th century
Over time, it has come to encompass the rights of individual groups
Constitutions deal with the question of who is in charge and who should rule, but in themselves are not a
guarantee of either protection or even democracy- a country with a well-defined constitution can still have a
dictator or suffer from internal problems
The Role of a Constitution
It establishes the machine of government
It embodies the values that form a political culture
It is shared by the people and shaped by them
It should link the past, present and future
-The essence of a constitution is how we imagine and perceive its significance as a document
-What is more important: whats actually written in the constitution or what we think the constitution
should convey? (E.G in terms of conventions not actually written down)
The Canadian Constitution:
There are three pillars which this course will focus upon:
1)Responsible government
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POL214Y Midterm Exam
2)Constitutional Conventions
Two key documents exist within the larger definition of a Canadian constitution:
1)The Constitution Act, 1867 (Also known as the British North America or BNA Act)
2)The Constitution Act, 1982 (part of the Canada Act that includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms)
– this does not eliminate or supercede the BNA, but adds to it
-Any laws that are inconsistent with the constitution have no force
-The Charter of Rights & Freedoms actually granted rights to people; before it, the only actual rights were the right
to have a trial in English or French, and the right to have a specific education in either Catholic or Protestant schools
Constitutional Changes
Lecture 2: September 21, 2010
What`s in the News
-A vote regarding the Long-Gun registry (a private members bill to abolish it)
-Which if it passes, only means it proceeds to third reading; however, since the vote failed to pass
(By a 153-151 margin) it will be killed
-The government is looking to expand the number of seats from 308-388, which will come at the expense of
Quebec`s proportion of the seats
The Evolution of the Constitution Continued:
In the 19th century, the concept ofParliamentary Supremacy was prevalent among the separate elements
of British Canada- the legislatures of Canada West, East etc. Dominated affairs within their regions
(Responsible government- 1848)
When Canada confederated in 1867, the government became federated, leading to two separate levels of
government- a provincial legislature and a federal parliament
The system became known as a Bifurcated Parliamentary Supremacy after 1867- Canada was not just
united, but also had to re-divide responsibilities that were previously wholly maintained by the provinces
(e.g education became a provincial responsibility but defence became a federal one)
Canadas constitution was modelled on the British one but differed because it now had to create and define
responsibilities for two levels of government
By 1982, the idea of Constitutional Supremacy had taken hold- Canadas constitution was patriated from
Britain, and the country now had full rights to make laws under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms
The Charter qualifies and limits parliamentary supremacy- at the same time, the charter also does not
supercede parliament
oThe Charter is used as a standard on which laws are tested, but parliament can still make its own
Whats the Difference between Big “C and Smallc Constitutions
The Big “Cs” are the formal documents – E.G the 1867 BNA Act and the 1982 Charter
oHowever, these formal documents do not contain all the amendments made over time
Changing Big “C constitution is a lot harder
Smallc” constitutions refer to all the constitutional rules- including amendments and judicial rulings that
have changed the character of the constitution
Included are constitutional conventions (non-codified, but understood and obligatory concepts)
oConstitutional conventions are not enforced by courts, but are important in that they take into
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