POL 214- Sum 1.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Nelson Wiseman

POL214: SUMMARY FOR CD- CHAP 5 AND ER READINGS 9, 48, 49, 54, 55. CANADIAN DEMOCRACY CHAPTER 5 1. Constitution • 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 components In modern society alternatives to a constitutional government are: anarchy, • totalitarianism. • 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 law. CONSTITUTIONAL FUNCTIONS 1) Representation • 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
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