POL214: SUMMARY FOR CD- CHAP 5 AND ER READINGS 9, 48, 49, 54, 55.
CANADIAN DEMOCRACY CHAPTER 5
• is the fundamental law of a political system. All other laws must conform to the
constitution in terms of how they are made and in terms of their substance. It is a
necessary element in politics as it lays out civilized ways to resolve conflict and/or
ensures the rights of citizens.
• Expected to establish order, allowing for the peaceful settlement of differences.
• Early thinkers such as Hobbes believed that the “state of nature” was the driving force
for setting up a constitutional government. When in chaos and not having the security
in regard to the possession of ones life of property, people demand a constitution and
accept the necessity of a constitution even if they find it difficult to agree on its precise
In modern society alternatives to a constitutional government are: anarchy,
• Anarchy: No set way of resolving conflict within a population, state doesn’t exist.
• Totalitarianism: State exists, however power is unlimited and all realms of social and
economic life are subordinate to it it makes no sense to talk of a constitution.
• If a constitutions terms are purely arbitrary it ceases to be anything other than name.
• Rules that make up a constitution deal with 2 sets of relations. One of these involves
the relationship between the state and its citizens. Another involves the distribution of
functions and powers between different parts of the state.
• Constitutional government has 3 headings: Legislature(making the law),
Executive(implementing the law) and the judiciary( interpreting the law).
• A constitution is then a set of rules that govern political life. These rules take 3 forms:
written documents, the decisions ofcourts(common law) or unwritten conventions.
Constitutional conventions are thosepractices that emerge over time and are genreally
accepted as binding rules of the political system.
• In Canada written documents and the common law- together comprise constitutional
• All modern democracies are representative democracies where politicians make
decision son behalf of those who elect them.
• A constitution describes both the basis of political representation and the method by
which they are chosen.
• Representation may be by population( one person one vote), territory or group.
Under such a system all elected members should represent a percentage of the
population. This ensures that the preferences of the simple majority are translated into
law. • Federalism is a form of government that embodies the principle of territorial
representation. It does so by giving regional governments the exclusive right to pass
laws on particular subjects